"Major" Taylor 1878 - 1932
Posted: September 23, 2011


The most dominant bicycle racer in the world at the dawn of the 20th century was the incomparable Marshall Walter Taylor. Born to a black couple in rural Indiana, Taylor was raised and educated in the home of a wealthy white Indianapolis family who employed his father as a coachman and gave the youngster his first bicycle. He became so good on it that by the age of fourteen he was hired to perform cycling stunts outside an Indianapolis bicycle shop. Dressed as he was in a soldier's uniform Taylor earned the nickname Major.

By the time he was eighteen Major Taylor had broken two world records, but his feats offended white sensibilities with the result that he was often banned from racing at many events. Despite this and the illegal tactics employed against him by many of his competitors by 1898 Taylor held claim to seven world records.

On August 10, 1899, Taylor used his Massey-Harris Silver Ribbon to capture the world 1-mile championship in Montreal to become only the second black athlete to hold a world title.


When Taylor toured Australia in 1903 he won over the crowds and the Australian cyclists with his geniality and generosity. "What particularly surprised the local riders was the Major's willingness to train with them, side by side. They had expected him to do much of his work in secret. Contrary to all expectations he unhesitatingly displayed his Massey-Harris bicycle and allowed them to size it up for themselves, the gearing, the cranks, the frame, and the pedal reach. These were commonly considered secrets in the trade. Of considerable interest were his adjustable handlebars. They were new to the country; and for decades afterward Australian cyclists commonly referred to adjustable ones as 'Major Taylors'" (James Fitzpatrick - Major Taylor in Australia)

Despite the shadow of racism that dogged his career, Major Taylor went on to beat the best that Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the States had to offer. Taylor retired from competitive racing in 1910, but after two decades of illness and unsuccessfull business ventures died in the Charity Ward of the Cook County Hospital in Chicago in 1932 and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1948 a group of former pro bicycle racers had Taylor's remains exhumed and reburied in a more prominent part of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Illinois.

"Dedicated to the memory of Marshall W. 'Major' Taylor, 1878-1932. World's champion bicycle racer who came up the hard way without hatred in his heart, an honest, courageous and god-fearing, clean-living, gentlemanly athlete. A credit to the race who always gave out his best. Gone but not forgotten."
Inscription on the gravestone of Major Taylor

Comments: 0
Looking back and looking ahead...
Posted: September 12, 2011

Photo courtesy of Larry Healey

Comments: 0
Posted: August 31, 2011




1000 Highway 5 West
Dundas, ON

Saturday, September 10

A buddy of mine will have copies of Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story available at the Christie Antique Show. Look for the Otter Creek Antiques booth.


Woodstock Fairgrounds
875 Nellis Street
Woodstock, ON

Sunday, September 11

I will have a table with some copies of the book as well as a few old bicycle catalogs for sale in Woodstock. If you're in the neighbourhood, drop by and say hello.

Comments: 0
CCM plant pre-1917
Posted: August 17, 2011

When CCM was formed in 1899, one of the companies involved in the original merger was the Canadian division of the H.A Lozier Co., based in Cleveland, Ohio and makers of the well-known Cleveland bicycle.

From the beginning the CCM directors had decided that production of the three Toronto companies involved in the merger (Gendron + Massey-Harris + Lozier) would be concentrated in one plant and that plant would be the Lozier plant on Weston Road in what was then known as West Toronto Junction.

Below are two illustrations of that particular plant sent along by Larry Healey of Campbellford. The top one is a sketch from a 1910 company catalogue and the one below is a photograph used courtesy of Jack Gordon, Newcastle, ON.

Very few visuals of this particular plant still exist. Thanks to Larry for sharing these ones.

Comments: 0
For those in Toronto.....
Posted: August 08, 2011

 For those in the Toronto area who don't trust the mail or would like to have a book in hand before laying down their hard-earned cash, you can pick up your copy of Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story at Squibb's Stationers, 1974 Weston Road, right across from where the old CCM plant once stood. Drop in and see Suri and she'll make sure you have a book before you leave.

In last Sunday's Toronto Sun noted Toronto historian Mike Filey declared Canada Cycle & Motor: The CCM Story to be "a must read for Canadian history buffs."

Well known Canadian antiques dealer and longtime collector of CCM memorabilia Larry Foster wrote: "Great book John and a tribute to a Canadian company that flourished despite all the challenges. Your research is astounding."

Comments: 0
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Posted: August 01, 2011

Comments: 0
See book section for details.
Posted: May 17, 2011

Comments: 2
Thomas A. Russell
Posted: April 19, 2011

Thomas Alexander Russell

Born in 1877, Tommy Russell grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario. After graduating from the University of Toronto, where he excelled as both an athlete and a student, Russell went to work for the Canadian Manufacturers' Association. He would deliver the Association's condolences upon the death of Walter Massey in 1901. 

When Canada Cycle & Motor (CCM) continued to struggle following the death of Massey, the company directors approached Russell about the possibility of managing the faltering enterprise. In 1902 Russell was named general manager of CCM, a role he held until being named company president in 1916. Russell would remain president until his death in 1940.

By the end of 1903 Russell had CCM showing a profit and by the end of 1905 had introduced two new products to the company line - the Russell motor car and skates made of automobile steel (aptly called Automobile Skates). In 1916, under Russell's guidance, CCM built a new state-of-the-art factory on Lawrence Ave. in Weston, ON. 

Russell never strayed far from his rural roots and in 1910 bought a forty-acre farm in Downsview where he began to breed shorthorns just as his father had before him. Russell would eventually expand "Brae Lodge", as he called it, to 650 acres and begin to show his steers at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and the Provincial Winter Fair in Guelph.

While the early directors of CCM were, for the most part, a mysterious lot of milionaires who knew far more about making money than they did about making bicycles or motor cars, Tommy Russell, the farm-boy from Exeter, was the company's human face. Held in high regard by employees and dealers alike, Russell was often seen walking through the plant, talking to the workers and taking a genuine interest in what they were doing. 

CCM would never fully recover from the loss of Russell in 1940. The ensuing gulf between employees and management would forvever cloud contract negotiations and the things that Russell had valued so highly - the long-term assets of the company - its workers, its plant, its equipment, would be lost in a maze of backroom bickering and deadly greed. 

More than anyone Tommy Russell had maintained a clear vision of what CCM was all about. For Russell it was about co-operation or what he called "shared responsibility."  It was, above all else, a commitment "to give the public a good article at a fair price and to give to the working man the fullest share possible of the returns which they helped produce." It was this pledge that made the Russell years the golden years at CCM. 

   Russell Motor Car   

Comments: 2
The Happy Couple
Posted: April 16, 2011

Congrats Rob!

Comments: 0
Upcoming Vintage Bicycle Swap Meet
Posted: April 14, 2011

Vancouver Wheelmen - Iron Ranch

Comments: 0