Red Arrow Blog

R.B. Colborne: The Father of Red Arrow

Posted by Red Arrow on Jun 13, 2019 12:15:31 PM

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Red Arrow was built off one man’s vision to completely change the transportation industry for passengers. R.B. Colborne saw an opportunity to elevate bus service by providing a luxury experience people had never seen before. After decades in the transportation industry, Colborne officially launched Red Arrow Motorcoach on July 9, 1979.

Early Life

Born in Calgary on January 11, 1927, Colborne had been a dedicated Albertan his entire life. At the age of 17 he graduated high school and motivated by a sense of duty to his country, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Colborne wasn’t called into active service, but his training only strengthened his passion and commitment to safety.
In 1946 he attended the University of Alberta and played for the Golden Bears Hockey Team. He started working for General Motors Acceptance Corporation in 1949. By the young age of 29 he had purchased Wetaskiwin Motors Ltd.


Colborne was quickly establishing himself as a leader in the transportation industry. In 1957 he purchased Sorenson Bus Lines which we now know today as Prairie Bus Lines. This became the founding company of the Pacific Western Group of Companies which was also established the same year. Still to this day, the Pacific Western Group of Companies is one of North Americas largest privately held transportation businesses.

Thinking outside of the box, Colborne started Diversified Transportation in 1964 that was introduced as employee transportation specifically for construction workers getting to and from sites. In 2019, Diversified continues to transport workers to jobs across Canada, and Safely Home.

His Vision Lives on Today

Colborne passed away in 2012 at the age of 85. Red Arrow remains a family owned and operated business - his son Michael now the Chairman and CEO. His other children Rick, Lynne, and Catherine are also involved with Red Arrow and carry forward their Father’s dream.

All our employees continue to proudly live by Colborne’s vision. His photo is honourably displayed in all our offices alongside our Core Values of Safety, Customer Service, Resourcefulness, Integrity, Positive Attitude, Team Work, Loyalty, Accountability, Respect, and Dedication.

Since initially joining the transportation industry, Colborne has always had a connection to the people. Those who knew Colborne described him as a kind, generous, and compassionate individual. These traits helped Red Arrow become a successful, Alberta-based business. Our employees strive to embody these traits and our Core Values daily.

Colborne also saw the importance of giving back to the community, so we wanted to honour him by giving back to the many passengers and communities that have supported us over the past 40 years. Be sure to continue watching our social media channels for contests, giveaways, and celebrations this summer, commemorating our 40-year milestone.

Additional Accomplishments by R.B. Colborne

• President of the Wetaskiwin Kinsmen Club
• Member of the Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce
• Mayor of Wetaskiwin
• Founding member of the Van Horne Institute for International Transportation and Regulatory Affairs
• Member of the Auditor General’s Audit Committee in Alberta
• Board member for the Strathcona Tweedsmuir School in Okotoks
• Life-time achievement award honoured by the Ontario Motor Coach Association
• President of the Western Canada Motor Coach Association two times


“R.B. Colborne’s vision was to build and operate Alberta’s first intercity business class passenger service and making it accessible for everyone. He truly was a visionary and a pioneer in the passenger transportation industry, his focus and passion was centered on safety and meeting the needs of passengers.”

-John Stepovy, Director of Sales and Business Development

"The most important asset any company can have is its front-line staff. We invest money, resources, people and hours of effort to create a work force dedicated to serving our customers. Pacific Western Transportation employees are encouraged to be the front-line representatives of the Company."

-R.B. Colborne, Founder of Red Arrow Motorcoach




Topics: Insider, General Information, Corporate Travel, Sustainable travel, Alberta, Summer, Business Travel, Safely Home, 40th Anniversary

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