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COMING SOON!
Posted: April 17, 2017

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To CCMers everywhere!
Posted: April 04, 2017

 

HAPPY EASTER!

 

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CVBS4 - WINTER INDOOR EVENT
Posted: February 20, 2017

The CVBS4 Winter Indoor event was a Great Success.Thank you to all who attended. As the weather was so fine we managed to fill the large space quickly & completely, all the tables provided were sure an asset! As things turned out the overflow migrated to the parking lot which worked out quite well for February. This all tells me that our Sport is Strong. It was good to meet many new people that made the effort, as well as our core group.The Stedman Community Hospice ,Brantford, will see a donation of 800$ for CVBS4 Indoor 2017, our 2016 Summer event raised 3800$.Here are some pics for you, Enjoy, Best Regards Jamie

 2 people, bicycle

 3 people, people sitting and bicycle

 2 people, people sitting, table, bicycle and indoor

 2 people, people sitting

 2 people, people smiling

 2 people, people smiling, people sitting

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WHY NOT MAKE IT A CCM WEEKEND - FEB. 18 + 19
Posted: December 31, 2016

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Best of the season to CCM'ers Everywhere!
Posted: December 11, 2016

  

   

 

 

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The Royal Canadian Bicycle Club
Posted: November 12, 2016

 

The Royal Canadian Bicycle Club

Early Sport in Riverdale

by Gerald Whyte

The Royal Canadian Bicycle Club, established in 1891, had its origins in the Royal Canadian Athletic Club, an association of some 100 young men last located at 740 Queen Street East in Toronto. When the new club was formed only five of its members had bicycles and these were the hard tire variety. The first officers of the small club were: David Smith, President, S.H. Gibbons, Captain, E. McTeer, First Lieutenant and Fred Creed, Second Lieutenant. The first home of the club was in the Smith Block at 651 Queen Street East.

 
Opening of cycling season May 23, 1891, A.E. Walton with the bugle

In the spring of 1892 the club moved to the (Alan Hoover) Dingman Block at 736 Queen Street East where new officers were selected: D. Smith, President, S.H. Gibbons, Vice-President and James Murray, Secretary-Treasurer. in the fall the Club moved to larger quarters in (Archibald) Dingman Hall at 112 Broadview Avenue. Money was a problem for the new club until A.E. Walton, a local entrepreneur and organizer, provided the needed financial management from 1893 - 1896 when he was President. He was to play a major role in Club activities fro 50 years. In the fall of 1903 the Club won its first victory in a team competition at the Cahadian National Exhibition eventually winning a world championship race in 1896.

Cycling in Riverdale received a boost from two dvelopments. The first was external with the invention of the pneumatic tire by John Dunlop in 1888. This allowed a much smoother ride. The second occurred in 1884 when the area of Riverdale north of Queen Street was annexed by the city, allowing for great improvement in local roads. This also allowed a much smoother ride.

   
The start of the 20 mile Dunlop Trophy Race in 1898

 

The Dunlop Tire company, as a major supplier of bicycle tires, promoted bicycle racing, an exciting sport, which led to increased bicycle sales. They sponsored their first race at the Woodbine Racetrack in 1894 when the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club competed against four other top club teams. The 20 mile race ended in a dispute which resulted in the Atheneum Club taking the trophy. However the next year the Royal Canadians returned, this time to win. When they won a second straight in 1896 they were allowed to keep the coveted Dunlop Trophy. It is one of the largest trophies in existence, made of ebony and silver and standing seven feet tall! It was valued at $1,000 at the time. The Dunlop Trophy remains to this day at the Royal Canadian Curling Club, the successor club of the bicycle club.

The "east end heroes of the wheel" who won the Dunlop Trophy were: L. Bounsall, C. Leamen, P. Humphreys, H. Parkins, H. Thompson, A. Oake, G. Nicholson, G. Capps, W. Simpson and J. Anderson.

   
The winning team for the 1899 Dunlop Trophy Race

By 1897 the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club was well established. Their premises in Dingman's Hall are described in the Toronto Evening Star: "The club parlours are upholstered and furnished in the best of style and the pictures of the winning teams decorate the walls. A padded boxing room, a pool room, a card room, a smoking room, a reading room and a first class gymnasium are amoing the attractions."

In 1907 the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club moved into their new clubhouse at 131 Broadview Avenue, J. Francis Brown, architect. in 1929 the name was changed to the Royal Canadian Bicycle and Curling Club when the ice arena was built behind the clubhouse, H.S. Salisbury, architect.  

The above is reprinted with the kind permission of Gerald Whyte and the Riverdale Historical Society.  

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Remembrance Day, Friday, November 11, 2016
Posted: November 02, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2015


Juno Beach - June 6, 1944 (Photo courtesy of Ian McLean)

 

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When the Fastest Man on Two Wheels Was on a CCM Flyer
Posted: October 09, 2016

 
From top left: Willie Spencer as a 15 year-old amateur, as the 1922
American sprint champion and as a promoter at Maple Leaf Gardens

Born November 11, 1895, in Manchester, England, William Gerald Spencer moved to Canada with his parents at the age of three. In 1910 he took up bicycle racing as a 15-year-old amateur. Blessed with a competitive edge and a keen sense of drama, by the time he was nineteen, it was said Willie Spencer had three things in life: a fiancé, $800 and a younger brother (Arthur) who had just won the Canadian Amateur Cycle Championship.

Arthur’s title and Willie’s confidence convinced the boys they could win big money by turning pro in the States. So, much to the chagrin of Willie’s girlfriend, in 1915 the Spencer boys took Willie’s money and headed to Newark, New Jersey, the North American centre for six-day bicycle racing.

 The move paid off in 1917 when Willie won his first six-day race in San Francisco, CA., and Arthur won the American Sprint Championship, defeating perrennial champion Frank Kramer. Unfortunately, Arthur’s success did little to endear him to the American racing fans, who, seeing their beloved champion dethroned, hollered insults and catcalls at the Canadian rider, even going so far as to shower him with bags of peanuts, folded programs and empty water bottles.

It was a display that prompted Canada Cycle & Motor to send a letter to the newspaper admonishing the perpetrators: “Fans be fair, and watch Arthur’s attempts. Can’t you see he is fair, always on the square and trying? He proves his gameness by having a try in spite of all the booing and hissing.” [1]

Nor did Arthur’s victory stand him in good stead with racing promoter John Chapman. When Spencer asked for the same purse as Kramer would have gotten, Chapman balked at the demand, informing Spencer that nobody knew who he was.

As Australian racer Alf Goullet recalled it:Arthur beat Kramer often that season. He accumulated the greatest number of points to take the crown. Everyone knew that one day someone would beat Kramer. Arthur Spencer finally did it. He was the new national professional sprint champion. But Chapman wouldn’t even give Arthur a contract for a single race. [2]

Spurred on by the hard time shown his brother, the 6 foot, 215 lbs. Willie Spencer stepped up and challenged Kramer to a grudge match. With most opponents considering Kramer to be unbeatable and avoiding his heat if at all possible, Willie created a sensation in May 1918 when he actually asked to ride against the American champion.

“I think he is the easiest man in the outfit to beat,” said Spencer. “He may have all the rest buffaloed, but he hasn’t got me.” [3]

Hearing of Spencer’s remark, an irate Kramer immediately demanded a $300 winner-take-all match race against the Canadian upstart. Willie Spencer seized the opportunity and beat Kramer in two straight heats.

   In August of that year the US Army drafted Willie for six months of military service. After his release from the army in January, Spencer continued racing, clocking victories around the world. During the 1919 racing season Willie Spencer won 18 of 23 match races in Philadelphia.

Despite his success, or because of it, Willie continued to encounter opposition south of the border. In June 1919, accused of using rough tactics against Kramer, he was suspended from racing at the Newark Velodrome, an action that again prompted CCM to come to their defense.

“It looks as if the Spencers, like other Canadian riders before them, have been up against a pretty hard proposition at Newark. It has been rumoured that a certain clique of riders constantly work together to block and pocket any rash outsider who comes up against them. As a rule they get away with this, but if the outsider makes the slightest endeavour to retaliate, he is immediately punished.” [4] 

Ever the opportunist Willie Spencer used his ban in Newark to head to Europe, where his self-assurance and determination once again served him well. When promoters in Paris failed to come up with the kind of money Willie wanted, he turned to the local press.

“That afternoon,” recalled Willie, “I went down to a newspaper and found a sports writer who could speak a little English. I showed him my clipping book and told him I was here to ride in the Velodrome. I also told him that the opposition paper was going to use my picture (which it really was, although nobody knew it yet). And they photographed me from all angles.” [5]

With the next edition of both newspapers carrying front page photos of Willie, the promoters who had initially brushed him off now rushed to offer him a contract. Willie Spencer left Europe that year as the world indoor champion, and in 1920 headed to Australia where he set the world sprint record of twenty-five seconds for the quarter mile.

 
 Willie Spencer lines up against New Zealand champion Phil O'Shea in 1925 at
Athletic Park in Wellington, N.Z.

Back in the States, however, Willie was still unable to come to terms with Chapman. Known as the "Czar of Cycling," John Chapman served as vice-president and general manager of Madison Square Garden, as well as the Newark Velodrome. While Chapman offered Willie $300 a race, Willie wanted $500. When Chapman failed to come up with the additional money, Willie headed back to Europe. In 1921 he returned to Paris where he won 15 of 22 races.

When Willie eventually returned to the States to compete, he captured the American Sprint Championship title in 1922, 1923 and 1926. At the time CCM was quick to point out that Willie's “championship bicycle was not made to order for him, but is a regular store model which other riders may obtain at a very moderate price, considering its championship quality.” [6]          

Commuting between Paris, Berlin and New York, from 1923 until 1927 Willie Spencer and his CCM Flyer broke five world’s records and captured three American championships, but was never able to overcome the bad blood that existed between himself and Chapman. As a result, Spencer eventually took matters into his own hands.

  In September 1927 Willie drew $10,000 (in $50 bills) from his bank account and began to visit the homes of noted bicycle racers offering them contracts and cash bonuses to ride for him rather than for Chapman. By Sunday morning he had signed up twenty of America’s best cyclists, who, like himself, were fed up with the treatment accorded them by Chapman. That morning, with little to no sleep, Willie went to the Velodrome where he won the five mile race. When he went to collect his prize money at the box office, however, he discovered management was on to his endeavours.

“They paid us riders and then closed the Velodrome. It never opened again,” said Willie. [7]

In all, Willie lured a third of the riders away from Chapman’s National Cycling Association, incl. top American riders Jimmy and Bobby Walthour. “Willie’s outlaws,” as they as they were dubbed by the American press, were led by a brash Canadian redhead by the name of Torchy Peden.

In the end, however, Chapman retaliated by banning Willie’s racers from riding at his venues including Madison Square Garden. With Chapman in control of most of the American racing facilities, in 1928 Willie headed back to Canada where he began to sponsor races at Toronto's Mutual Street Arena and then at Maple Leaf Gardens.  

The same competitive spirit that drove Willie as a racer continued to motivate him as a promoter.

“Competition has given me something I wouldn’t sell for a million dollars: the will to win in everything I take on. I have found that second place is no good to me, in business as in racing,” said Willie. [8]

Over time there were those who worried about Spencer’s almost complete control over six-day bicycle racing in Canada. Dubbed the “boss monopolist,” Willie paid the riders, chose their teammates and, according to the hushed voices of some, told them who was to win.

Willie Spencer died October 2, 1963, at the age of 67. By that time he had returned to the States, where, in 1947, he became an American citizen. In Canadian Cyclist's ranking of the "Top 25 Canadian Cyclists of the Century" Willie Spencer was ranked number 5. In 2005 he was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame. A champion the world over, Willie Spencer had been among the first to bring the CCM name to prominence.

  
   1925 CCM Flyer, similar to Willie Spencer's, featuring a Major Taylor
  stem, star racing pedals, banjo-type chain adjusters and striped
wooden rims.

 

[1] “Art Spencer Again Beats Frank Kramer,” VIM, Vol. 4, No. 2, October 15, 1917.

[2] Peter Joffre Nye, The Six-Day Bicycle Race: America’s Jazz-Age Sport (San Francisco: Cycle Publishing, 2006)

[3] “Willie Spencer Defeated Kramer,” Toronto Star, May 27, 1918 

[4] “Art Spencer Again Beats Frank Kramer,” VIM, Vol.4, No.2, October 15, 1917.

[5] “The Formula For Fame,” VIM, Vol.37, No.1, 1950.

[6] “Willie Spencer Wins Cycling Championship on CCM Flyer,” Toronto Star, August 18, 1922. 

[7] “The Formula For Fame,” VIM, Vol.37, No.1, 1950.

[8] “The Formula For Fame,” VIM, Vol.37, No.1, 1950.


 

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Posted: October 07, 2016

Thanks to everyone who keeps the

history and heritage of CCM alive!! 

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An interesting look at the CCM story
Posted: September 14, 2016

 

Book Review: Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story

By David Wencer

 

Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story
By John A. McKenty
Epic Press, 2011

For many generations of Canadians, the letters “CCM” conjure up strong memories, either through the bicycles and sporting equipment made by the company, or through the employment of friends and family.

John McKenty’s book tells the history of CCM, from its complicated origins during the late nineteenth century bicycle craze, through its forays into automobile manufacturing and hockey equipment, until its ultimate demise in the 1983. At times, CCM was an innovator and an industry leader; in other years, it was a struggling competitor, plagued with labour disputes and a poor reputation. As someone with little personal knowledge of CCM, I found this book to be an engaging profile of the company’s fortunes (and misfortunes), as well as an intriguing look at some of the changes in Canada through the twentieth century. CCM also has a strong Toronto connection, with its manufacturing operations based for many years in the northern end of the Junction, and later on in Weston.

This book features many images, the most interesting of which tend to be the old CCM advertisements. Like McKenty, I have found advertisements to be an excellent means of illustrating a narrative, as one does not have to navigate the copyright issues that can prevent the republication of photographs or newspaper articles. The advertisements are not, however, mere illustrations; in themselves they are valuable parts of Canadiana, and present a side of the company’s story which can be easier for everyday readers to relate to than, say, corporate structure or sales statistics.

That said, this book is not an advertisement for the company. While there is certainly a whiff of nostalgia about parts of it, McKenty is intent on presenting CCM with a sense of balance. I have read histories of other companies which read like protracted, indulgent advertisements, dwelling on the glory years and refusing to say a bad thing about the company or its associated personalities. Sometimes, a company history is written by a nostalgic ex-employee who fills a jumble of casual and irrelevant anecdotes with company jargon and slang, with the end result making little sense to anyone who didn’t work there and know the people being written about. McKenty’s narrative, however,  is well-balanced and presents a complicated subject in an engaging and accessible way. Rather than focus on one specific aspect of the company, he gets into the owners, the employees, the products, and the customers, indicating how each influenced the other. The result is an interesting book which looks at several different facets of Canadian history including labour relations, marketing, and popular culture, demonstrating how varied aspects of Canada’s past came together in CCM.

What I found particularly interesting is McKenty’s willingness to point out some of CCM’s villainy. I do not know enough of the facts to know if he is pulling any punches, but there are times in Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story when CCM seems to be severely mismanaged, or when it seems to treat its employees quite shabbily. When the company is managed well, CCM seems to be symbolic of local and national pride; when the quality of products is poor, the company seems like an embarrassment.  And when the company is neglected and the employees made to feel the burden, CCM comes across as an enemy.

The book is self-published through Epic Press, which may account for a few of the typographical errors and a handful of awkwardly written passages, although none of these are so major that they really detract from the narrative. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to call these elements “charming,” but they do remind the reader that this book is, like so many books on the history of Toronto, effectively the product of a single, dedicated researcher.  And, unlike so many other self-published Toronto history books, there is a sizeable section of endnotes where one can find McKenty’s source material.

While the title and subject matter may suggest an attempt to appeal to those with an interest in business or industrial history, the accessible language and varied subject matter make Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story an interesting look at Canadian popular culture, and indeed a look at a side of Toronto life that doesn’t always get written about. My favourite features are the plentiful advertisements, along with some of the descriptions of cycling culture. This includes not only the late nineteenth century cycling boom, but also a look at some of the racing heroes of the 1930s. If you’re curious about this aspect of the book, I would very much suggest starting with McKenty’s CCM website  , in particular the archives section, which includes a look at type of stories which appear in the book.  He hasn’t given everything away on the website, and of course the book’s real strength is tying all these anecdotes into a complex narrative.

The above is printed with the kind permission of David Wencer and taken from his website – This Strange Eventful History (http://davidwencer.wordpress.com/)

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