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Bill Olinik, Diamond Limousinse

The Regina airport is a flurry of people on a Sunday evening. A new flight lands and people file in; a man in a cowboy hat, a woman grasping the hand of her toddler and young men with their toques roll their luggage across the floor. It’s busy, loud and hurried – Bill Olinik stands out among the crowd.   


He calmly stands and smiles beside a sign that proclaims “Limousine from $17” in blue and red lettering. Olinik is dressed in a crisp tuxedo, one of the 13 he owns, complete with a black bowtie, shiny shoes, black gloves and a large black overcoat – the image of a classic gentleman. He has a shock of white hair and soft blue eyes framed by simple glasses.


Dakota Smith stepped off the plane at 7:45 p.m. that evening. It was -14 C outside and the snow was an unwelcome greeting after her three hour flight from Arizona. The airport was bustling with activity. However, amidst the rush of people she saw the friendly face of Olinik, who kindly offered her a ride in the white stretch limousine.


Smith, a newly graduated nurse, decided to take the ride; after all it was nearly the same price as a cab. Olinik opened the door for her and they were on their way to the east end of Regina – chatting the entire time.


This isn’t a new scenario for Olinik, at 82 years old he’s always found his home behind the steering wheel.


“It’s something to keep busy, I tried sitting around, doing nothing, and it was boring,” he laughs.


When asked what a typical day is like Olinik laughs again and says, “I never leave the house before noon. I sleep in the morning and come out to the airport in the afternoons and evenings until about 10 o’clock.” He works every day.


Olinik was born in his family’s farmhouse by Austin, Manitoba in 1932. He was the oldest in a family of six with four younger sisters and a brother 18 years his junior.


“When I was still on the farm we were by a highway; I used to see the trucks going up and down the road.” That got him hooked; he knew he wanted to drive for a living. His first vehicle was a ’48 Dodge.


Around 1956, at 24 years old, Olinik moved to a farm by Kelliher, Sask. and pursued his driving career. He began with Imperial Oil as a fuel delivery man, manoeuvring semi-trucks and trailers throughout the city and province. He retired from that job 27 years ago.


However, retirement didn’t sit well with Olinik and soon he was back behind the wheel. Doing odd jobs with Imperial and eventually settling into a job as the airport limousine driver for Diamond Limousines.


“I think [my wife] is glad to get me out of the house every once in a while,” he smiles.


Olinik, who loves to dance, met his wife of 25 years, Helen, at a singles dance at his house. He also has two sons, one of whom used to drag race. It was on the drag strip that he met Debra and Glen Sali, owners of Capital Cabs and Diamond Limousine.


Diamond Limousine started up 15 years ago, just one year before Olinik joined the team.


“He’s just a good man,” Debra Sali said. “He never says no to work and we get calls all the time from people saying they had such a nice ride.”


“He’s such a professional; he’s always so neat he never has a spill or a thread out of place.”

 Bill Olinik Regina Limousine

Olinik owns his own limousine which he leases to Diamond. He’s worked the airport shift for the last 14 years, driving everyone from Brent Butt and Crystal Shawanda to Ralph Goodale.


“I’ve had a couple couples making out in the back – I have a divider that I close.” Olinik’s eyes crinkle as he smiles. He looks much younger than 82 – Sali says people often guess him at 65.


“He does it because he loves it. Some of his friends are passing away and he just wants to keep going,” Sali said. “He’s just wonderful.”


Smith agrees. “He reminded me of my grandpa a little bit; I thought he seemed like a standup gent. He made me comfortable and asked me questions about myself while also sharing some interesting stories about himself.”


Olinik is humble; he maintains that he just loves to drive.


“I’ll keep doing this as long as my health holds up,” he smiles.