What was and is to be.....
Posted: July 17, 2013

Photos from the 2013 Canadian Vintage Bicycle Show held on Sunday, June 23









The above photos are courtesy of Greg Chown.
Be sure to visit Greg at his blog Three Speed Mania.

Greg is also a key organizer for an upcoming event - that being the 2013 edition of the Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show to be held on Sunday July 28. More details here.

Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show 2013 poster


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Doc Morton - "Boss of the Bicycle Repair Bench"
Posted: June 27, 2013

From the time of its arrival until the present day the motor car has never been a friendly companion for Canada's cyclists. This was especially true for those inclined to race their bicycle in the streets which in the early days of the 20th Century was just about every young man who had one.

Back in the days when bicycles ruled Canada's roadways, most races, including the well known Dunlop Trophy Race, took place outdoors. The first Dunlop Trophy Race, in fact, was held at Toronto's Woodbine race track in 1894 when the competitors rode a total of 20 miles - five miles around the track and seven and a half miles out the Kingston Road and back again, with the turning point on the Kingston Road being marked by a wooden barrel around which the racers had to circle. 

Racers lining up at the beginning of a Dunlop Trophy Race in 1898

Although the race followed the same pattern for the next number of years, by the 1920s it had become increasingly dangerous to do so. In 1922 when Canadian bicycle racer and mechanic Doc Morton revived the Queen City Bicycle Club, two of the club’s best riders, Dave Patterson and Frank Brown, used the familiar route of the Dunlop Trophy Race to train each night.

One evening, however, the two riders were forced to swerve in order to avoid a stalled car. When they did, they met a car coming in the opposite direction. The twenty-year-old Patterson was thrown onto the road and died without regaining consciousness. Brown, who had recently defeated Patterson at the Canadian Championships, suffered a broken left wrist.

It was a tragic reminder of how dangerous bicycle racing had become and a fact that led race promoters, such as Ottawa rider Lea Gault, to face the fact that the end of such events was drawing near.

“I tangled with a tough sergeant of the OPP for staging racing events on the public highways without consent," noted Gault. "In a way his interference may have come at a good time, as I was becoming concerned about the safety of riders sprinting for the finish.” (1)

The final Dunlop Trophy Race to be staged in Toronto was held in 1925. The following year the contest moved to Ottawa in the hope that it would prove to be a safer location. While the Ottawa race was won by Lea Gault aboard a CCM Flyer, the new location was unfortunately found to be no less hazardous than in previous years with the result that the Ottawa race was the last of the longstanding event.

Your intrepid author standing beside the Dunlop trophy.

Shortly after the cancellation of the Dunlop Trophy Race, Canada Cycle & Motor, which for years had been a co-sponsor of the event, came to the rescue of Canada's racing enthusiasts. With the need for an off-road racing venue now increasingly apparent, in 1927, CCM, under the direction of general manager J.W. Gibson, sponsored the construction of a wooden track on Dundas Street in Toronto. Using donated lumber, carpenters were paid by CCM to build the frame, while the riders, themselves, volunteered to lay the boards.

Modelled on the Newark track with six laps to the mile, when finished the Toronto track was known as the "Cycledrome" and became the favoured racing venue of Canada’s leading cyclists of the day, including Torchy Peden, all of whom competed at the track each year for the J.W. Gibson Trophy awarded to the rider who accumulated the most points over the course of the season in both handicap and open events. 

During the ensuing years no one saw more excitement at the Cycledrome than the incomparable William “Doc” Morton (1880 – 1952). Born in England, for years Morton had a close association with CCM and was a stalwart on the Toronto racing scene. It was, in fact, Doc Morton's Massey-Harris bike that enabled Major Taylor to win his first world championship in Montreal back in 1899.

A world class racer in his own right, Morton won the amateur cycling championship at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. Then in 1908 he combined with Walt Andrews, William Anderson and Fred McCarthy for a bronze medal in the Men’s Team Pursuit at the London Summer Olympics .

In his book, The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone: The Story of Tom Longboat, author Jack Battens describes how at those same Olympic games in 1908, Morton and his bike ran look-out for Canadian marathoner Tom Longboat.

"From time to time during the next dozen miles, Morton sped ahead to look over the runners among the leading pack," writes Batten.

"They're running as if the devil himself were behind them!" Morton was reported to have said after one such reconnaissance trip. (2)

At one time or another the colourful Morton held just about every bicycle racing championship in Canada, despite the fact, it was said, “he absolutely refuses to train – except on cigarettes – and it takes a man with a club to drive him to bed.” (3)

When his his racing days were over, Doc Morton coached the Canadian cycling teams at the 1926 Olympics in Berlin and the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. It was at the 1928 games that he first met Torchy Peden for whom he'd become a lifelong mentor and friend.

During the thirties when the six-day bicycle races were at the height of their popularity at Maple Leaf Gardens, Doc Morton was a familiar figure down at track level. As the "boss of the bicyle repair bench," it was estimated that during the course of a six-day race Morton fixed on average 2,000 flat tires!

“He can dismantle and reassemble a bicycle faster than any other man in the business, and he has to speed along when these daring riders go tumbling to the track, much to the detriment of wheels, tires and spokes,” wrote well-known Toronto sportswriter Mike Rodden at the time. (4)

Rodden wasn't the only one to take notice of the gray-haired guy with the grizzled countenance. In the mid-thirties another newspaper reporter declared of Morton:

"This busy little chap does everything but build bicycles right in front of you. He repairs all manner of breaks to the wheels and to him can go a large slice of the credit for the success of the game. He's none other than "Doc" Morton of Toronto - bicycledom's surgeon - a doctor of wheels - a chap who in his prime could, and did, outsprint anything on two wheels in Canada." (5)

Torchy Peden awaits words of wisdom from the Doc

Working closely with CCM Morton made the transition from repairing damaged bikes to crafting custom-built frames of his own. Considered to be a work of art, a Morton frame with its hand-filled joints and rider's initials often set in the upper section of the forks, were highly sought after by the top riders of the day. (In an ironic twist years later one of the most famous works of art by noted Canadian painter Greg Curnoe would be one entitled "The Doc Morton Wheel"). 

For many years Morton operated a bicycle shop in the west end of Toronto. At the time, a Doc Morton frame sold for around $150, this at a time when a complete CCM Flyer sold for around $100. Well known Almonte, Ontario, cyclist Les Humphrey has a CCM Flyer with the initial "M" on the frame which he surmises to be the work of  Morton.   

Some years ago noted Canadian bicycle builder Mike Barry was given a couple of Doc Morton bikes by an ex-racer who had competed in the thirties.

One bike was purchased in the late twenties and later fitted with a Simplex derailleur. The other was a tandem that Morton had built for the 1932 Olympics, but was never used.

Barry notes that Morton made large flange hubs machined from aluminum, quite a development for its day according to Barry who points out that at the time most hubs were made of steel. (6)

Doc Morton passed away on March 21st 1952 at the age of  72. Despite the prominent role he had played in the history of cycling in Canada, little mention is made today of the man who was hailed as the "boss of the bicycle repair bench."

1. Quoted in William Humber, Freewheeling: The Story of Bicycling in Canada, Boston Mills Press, p.112
2. Jack Batten, The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone: The Story of Tom Longboat, Tundra Books, 2002  

3. "Doc Morton," Toronto Star, July 15, 1911
4. Mike Rodden, "On the Highway of Sports," The Globe, May 8, 1935
5. Quoted in Ted Harper, Six Days of Madness, Pacesetter Press, 1992, p.34
6. From Mike Barry's blog Bicycle Specialties, January 12, 1911. Go to Mike's blog to see other photos of the Doc Morton bike



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2013 Canadian Vintage Bicycle Show
Posted: June 24, 2013

'Bumper crop' of vintage bikes

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Jamie McGregor, organizer of the annual Vintage Bicycle Show on Sunday at Heritage View Farm on Tutela Heights Road, shows a 1904 Brantford Red Bird 57 Special shaft-drive bicycle. The shaft-drive design had women in mind, so their long dresses would not get caught or soiled in a chain. They were made for only a few years, mainly because the bicycle had no brakes. (Brian Thompson, The Expositor)

Jamie McGregor, organizer of the annual Vintage Bicycle Show on Sunday at Heritage View Farm on Tutela Heights Road, shows a 1904 Brantford Red Bird 57 Special shaft-drive bicycle. The shaft-drive design had women in mind, so their long dresses would not get caught or soiled in a chain. They were made for only a few years, mainly because the bicycle had no brakes. (Brian Thompson, The Expositor)

It seemed almost everyone who walked the field of the 12th Canadian Vintage Bicycle Show either had known its organizer, Jamie McGregor, for years, or wanted to talk to him about a good lead on a bike from some time in their youth.

Or maybe even their parents' youth.

"You'll find what you're looking for right over there," McGregor quickly said Sunday under the bright hot sunshine over Heritage View Farm on Tutela Heights Road across from the Bell Homestead.

He was talking to a man who was looking for CCM model children's bikes.

McGregor simultaneously held in handshake the extended hand of a man who had greeted him warmly, directed him to a group of bikes, where he was sure to find what he was looking for, then patted him on the shoulder.

It was probably the 20th questioning visitor to grip his hand in the last 10 minutes.

"This is a bumper year and we have a bumper crop," McGregor said as the man headed on his way.

"It's nice seeing the diversity we have today," he said of the mix of Canadian and American bicycles, and the enduring popularity of the CCM ( Canadian Cycle and Motor Ltd.) brands.

What was his best vintage model to show?

We walked over to a Brantford Red Bird 57 Special from 1904. It was parked on a bike display ramp bearing all the merchandising display emblems from the time.

The bicycle had a shaft rather than a chain for pedalling.

"That makes it rare," said McGregor.

Among the multitude of wheels were Victorian Penny Farthings, as well as "muscle" bikes and banana bikes from the 1960s, and racing models from most decades.

McGregor pointed to a group of BMX bikes.

The event also had displays that showed the impact of its own age over time.

The BMX brand name was introduced in the early 1970s when kids began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in southern California. It was their way of aping motocross stars.

"You wouldn't notice it, but they're starting to get old," McGregor mused.

"I guess it means we're getting older, too."

Veteran attendees have identified the show as a place where they're likely to find the parts they need for their handyman projects.

Admittance to the show was a $5 donation to the Stedman Community Hospice and donations for food and drink.

For years, McGregor has used the show as a hospice fundraiser after the facility provided end-of-life care to his father, John, who died there six years ago.


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World Champions
Posted: June 15, 2013

 As the current NHL season winds its way to a slow and some would say painful close (I mean c'mon hockey in June), it's perhaps a good time to reflect upon the first world champions of hockey - the CCM Canadas.

By 1930 there were sufficient countries playing hockey for the International Ice Hockey federation to stage its first world championship tournament independent of the Olympics. The games were to take place in Chamonix, France and for the first time ever in a major competition, a team from outside North America or Europe would take part with Japan entering a team in the competition.

Canada's entry at the tournament was to be an industrial league team belonging to the Canada Cycle & Motor Co. of Weston, Ontario. In 1929 the CCM team had not only won the Toronto Mercantile title, but had also defeated the winner of the city's Mining and Brokers League.

That fall when company official George Braden travelled to Europe, he decided that overseas hockey players would benefit from increased exposure to Canadian hockey, not to mention Canadian hockey equipment. As export manager for CCM, Braden, no doubt, saw before him a lucrative new market for the company's merchandise. 

When Braden obtained permission from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to send the CCM team on a European tour, it was decided that the company team would also represent the country at the newly-formed world championships in Chamonix.

So it was that on Dec. 5, 1929, the CCM team, along with Braden and coach Les Grant, gathered at Toronto’s Union Station to catch the train to Saint John, New Brunswick. From here they set sail the following day eventually arriving in London on Dec.14th. Wearing red sweaters with a large white maple leaf and the name "Canadas" prominently displayed across them, the team averaged a game every second night, scoring victory after victory en route to the world championships scheduled to begin on Jan. 27, 1930.


 Unfortunately when warm weather at the outdoor venue in Chamonix pushed the start of the final games back four days, the round-robin system was abandoned for a knock-out format and the Canadian team was given a bye directly into the finals.

To stay in shape while awaiting the final game the Canadas scheduled games in Vienna, Austria. During a stretch of three games in three nights, the team dropped a 1-0 decision to the Austrian national team. It was the first Canadian loss in twenty-five games, with the game being played in a heavy downpour of rain. The Canadas bounced back the next night with a 6-0 win over the Vienna Skating Club.

By now the weather had forced the final games of the tournament to be moved to Berlin where the Canadas were scheduled to play the European champion team from Germany in the final game. Spurred on by the hometown crowd, the German team took an early lead, but the Canadas stormed back for a decisive 6-1 victory with Gordie Grant and Alec Park each scoring a pair of goals.


Having won the world championship, the CCM team arrived back in Toronto on the evening of Feb. 25, 1930. Since leaving town the CCM squad had travelled 22,500 kilometres, won thirty-one games and outscored their opponents 304 – 26.


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A Visit With Ron Miller
Posted: June 01, 2013
Recently I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Ron Miller who had left his Nova Scotia home to journey across Canada and the Northern United States on both personal and bike-related business. Ron is one of the long-standing figures in the antique bicycle community in Canada. His knowledge and extensive experience with old bikes has made him one of this country's "go-to-guys" for advice and information. In fact, seldom, if ever, has a book been written about cycling in Canada that didn't acknowledge some form of assistance from Ron. Below is an article that appeared in the Chronicle Herald on March 29th of this year.   

Queens County cyclist and bicycle historian Ron Miller owns many rare bikes including a tricycle made by the British car company Rover in 1884. Miller says it is the earliest and sole surviving Rover in the world. (BEVERLEY WARE/ South Shore Bureau)
Queens County cyclist and bicycle historian Ron Miller owns many rare bikes including a tricycle made by the British car company Rover in 1884. Miller says it is the earliest and sole surviving Rover in the world. (BEVERLEY WARE/ South Shore Bureau)


Miller on a roll with antique bicycles
Beverley Ware

MERSEY POINT — It’s not that Ron Miller has an obsession. It’s more like an extremely enthusiastic passion.

Admittedly, it’s hard to miss the penny farthing in his living room. Or the full-sized antique wooden bike on a shelf high up on his living room wall. Or the bike frame hanging from the ceiling.

Miller loves bicycles. He has large bikes, small bikes, bike lamps, bike chains, bike pedals, bike horns and even bike bugles.

Where most people would have a dining room cabinet display of crystal or china, Miller has dust-free bike lights and horns and cyclometers, which would measure how far the cyclist had gone.

There’s no media room in the finished basement of his waterfront home in Mersey Point, just minutes outside Liverpool. That, too, is filled with bikes.

Besides being all-things bicycle, there’s one other thing Miller’s treasures have in common: they’re very old.

The penny farthing in his living room, for instance, was made in 1888, and Miller’s thrilled the weather is warming up so he can get outside and ride it. The wooden bike perched high on the wall in the living room was made around 1890.

But Miller’s most treasured piece is an adult tricycle made in 1884 by the British motor company Rover.

“It’s the only one like it in the world, as far as I know,” he said.

Miller biked a lot as a kid. He got his first bike, a green three-speed Raleigh, in 1952 when he was 10 years old, and he rode it everywhere. That is, until he turned 16, when he sold it and bought a Volkswagen car.

While he owned several cars over the years, the spirit of that bike never left Miller. When he was 30, he tracked it down and bought it back.

“It was just sentimental,” he recalled with a smile.

Some of the bikes Miller finds in flea markets and at auctions.

“Frequently they find me.”

Such as the Rover. Miller said someone spotted him driving to Halifax one day with the penny farthing on the back of his car. That person phoned a friend in Halifax who happened to know Miller, so the man asked his friend if he thought Miller would be interested in an old tricycle he had at home in Chester. He had no idea how rare the adult bike was.

It seems Miller’s head is filled with as much information about bikes as his house is filled with bike paraphernalia.

The first bikes were made in 1818, he said, and were basically two wooden wheels with a wooden frame — no chain, no pedals — and the cyclist sat on the seat and ran.

Pedals were added to the front wheel in 1865, leading to the development of the penny farthing because a cyclist had to pedal like crazy to make the small wheel get up to any speed.

The penny farthing went out of fashion when the bike chain was introduced because it meant the front wheel didn’t need to be huge anymore.

Miller can also tell you about valves on bike tires — the European one is the best because it doesn’t let out air — and that CCM made its first bike in 1899. It almost went out of business that first year but managed to hang on until 1983, when it sold its name to a Montreal company.

Rubber tires replaced wood around 1888 and led to the first real bike boom, but the tires weren’t perfected for years.

“It’s complex to get a simple, reliable, workable tire,” Miller said.

It would be 90 years before the next bike boom hit during the oil crisis of the 1970s.

At 70, Miller doesn’t just admire bikes, he makes tremendous use of them, joining cyclists from around the world each year for trips in England and Europe.

Last year, he cycled from London to Kent, in England. This spring, he’ll ride his 1924 Sunbeam from Prague to some other town in the Czech Republic.

“I think I’ve done the Rhine River three times, its entire length.”

He cycles from 50 to 100 kilometres a day on these trips, averaging about 500 kilometres a week.

A retired mechanical designer with the Ontario Science Centre, Miller has created a little business on the side to meet the unique needs of antique bike lovers around the world, though he concedes he doesn’t make any money at it.

He developed a system to make vacuum-formed rubber pedals to replace damaged antique rubber in old metal pedals.

He puts the original rubber part into a tube, pours liquid silicone rubber inside, then adds polyurethane rubber and seals it. He puts it in a vacuum system that he developed to remove any bubbles, then puts it into his homemade pressurized chamber. After sitting under four tonnes of pressure for eight hours, the new pedals are ready to be mailed to customers around the world.

Miller said the only real change to the bicycle in the past 120 years has been its technology and materials.

That aside, cycling still comes down to one thing.

“You still have to have good strong legs.”

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Welland Vale and the Co-operative Cycle & Motor Co.
Posted: May 11, 2013

When the Welland Vale Manufacturing Co. of St. Catharines opened a Toronto retail outlet in February 1898, it laid claim to being the largest sporting goods store in the city, handling everything from ice skates to tennis racquets. At the time it was reported that the company had “left no stone unturned to make their premises at 149 Yonge Street a place worthy of the bicycles they sell.” (Toronto Star 02/04/1899)

Established in 1874 by William J. Chaplin the Welland Vale Manufacturing Co. produced a variety of steel goods, including axes, saws and harvesting tools. By 1896, however, the bulk of their factory had been given over to the production of a successful line of bicycles, that included the Perfect, Garden City and Dominion lines, as well as a popular chainless model. In 1899 when the Welland Vale bicycle works became part of the CCM merger, the St. Catharine's operation proved to be CCM's busiest factory.


Then on May 16, 1900, a serious fire ravaged the St. Catharines factory bringing an abrupt end to its manufacture of bicycles. Described as “the most disastrous conflagration” that had occurred in the history of the city, the fire destroyed the large building occupied by CCM, as well as the remaining shops of the Welland Vale Manufacturing Co., causing half a million dollars damage and putting five hundred employees out of work.


Following the fire CCM announced that it would not rebuild in St. Catharines, but had instead agreed to a deal with the city of Brantford to move the Welland Vale bicycle works to that city. In return CCM was to receive from the city of Brantford a seven year extension on the company's tax exempt status in that city.

“Mr. Joseph Shenstone, General Manager of the Canada Cycle & Motor Company, Toronto, has been here [Brantford] and the deal has been completed. The full details of the scheme are not yet allowed to transpire, but all the wheels and tools hitherto made at the Welland Vale factory will be made at the Brantford factory. Mr. Shenstone had a conference with the Manufacturers’’ Committee of the City Council, and an arrangement was agreed upon to have the manufacture of the chainless wheel take place in the Brantford factory.” (Globe May 30, 1900).

 It was a move that didn’t sit well with folks in St. Catharines who found themselves without their bicycle works. In an effort to appease the disgruntled, when the St. Catharines Board of Trade announced that the Welland Vale Manufacturing Co. and Chaplin Saw Works intended to rebuild and to take on more employees than before the fire, it also announced that the Co-Operative Cycle & Motor Co. from Brantford and Ingersoll had commenced business in St. Catharines and "compensates the city for the loss of the Welland Vale bicycle works.” (Annual Report of the St. Catharines Board of Trade for 1900).

Photo courtesy: Gerald Hobbis

 Incorporated in November 1900, the Co-Operative Cycle & Motor Co. had been formed for the purpose of acquiring the plant, machinery, stock-in-trade, business and good-will of the McBurney-Beattie Co. of Toronto and the W. G. Nott Bicycle Co. of Brantford. Among the directors of the newly-formed company were Jas. Coulter of Ingersoll and Chas. F. Verity of Brantford. W.G. Nott was the president and manager of the operation, while J. McBurney of Toronto was its vice president. 


The company purchased land in St. Catharines and erected a large three storey factory where they turned out "wheels" as rapidly as machinery, skill and labour allowed.They continued to make the E. Z. bicycles, formerly made by the W. G. Nott Bicycle Co., as well as the McBurney-Beattie bicycle and opened up branch retails outlets in Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton and London. 


There’s little question that the Co-operative Cycle & Motor Co. had hoped to cash in on the similarity of its company name to that of the Canada Cycle & Motor Co., not to mention the CCM acronym, but, in the end, it wasn't enough. Although expectations ran high in St. Catharines regarding the company, unfortunately within a few years Co-operative Cycle & Motor Co. found itself in financial difficulties and had to shut down.

Meanwhile to the east in Toronto the newly-formed CCM continued to produce bicycles under the old Welland Vale model designation of Perfect and did so well into the 1920s. 




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The Canadian Head Badges of Ron Miller
Posted: April 09, 2013






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The Evans & Dodge Bicycle 1896 - 1900
Posted: March 02, 2013

 With recent interest on here in the E. & D. bicycle and Dave Brown's photos of his great-looking bike, I thought I'd post the following. Although the Dodge brothers were to become the best-known members of the Evans & Dodge partnership, in the beginning it was actually Frederick Samuel Evans (1857 - 1922) who was the key figure in the company.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, at the age of 18 Frederick Evans went to work as a telegrapher for the Grand Trunk Railway. By the late 1800s he had arrived in Windsor where he established the Dominion Typograph Company (later known as the Canadian Typograph Company). When he and his company were eventually left out of CCM's purchase of the National Cycle & Automobile Co. in 1900, Evans immediately took CCM and its directors to court. By this time, however, the Dodge boys, who had come to Canada in 1892 to work at Evans' typograph plant, were long gone.

Walter G. Griffiths, who was an apprentice at the Typograph plant in 1890 – 1895, recalled the arrival of John and Horace Dodge at the plant. The company had placed an advertisement in the Detroit News for “an assembly man, a floor man.” The Dodge brothers came to the plant to see the superintendent, Mr. Piper, looking for work for both. Piper said he wanted only one man, to which John Dodge replied, “We’re brothers and we always work together; if you haven’t got room for two of us, neither of us will start. That’s that!” Piper agreed to hire the pair and told them to report the next Monday. Griffith recalled that John was the more aggressive and hardworking of the two brothers. Horace still went by the name of “Ed.” Both drank heavily on weekends at various taverns in Detroit, but seldom got into fights because they usually drank with each other, apart from others.  (The Dodge Brothers: The Men, The Motor Cars, And The Legacy by Charles K. Hyde)

John Dodge's E. & D. Bicycle which now resides in the Detroit Historical Museum.

 It was while working as a machinist at the typograph plant that Horace Dodge invented a bicycle bearing that incorporated an enclosed mechanism by which the bicycle rode on four sets of ball bearings. The adjustable four point ball bearing was not only dirt-resistant, but was said to offer a smoother ride with less effort. Horace and his brother John were granted a patent for the bearing in September of 1896.

Shortly thereafter the brothers entered into a partnership with Evans and the trio used a space in the Canadian Typograph plant  to manufacture a bicycle using the patented bearing. Known as the “E. & D.” or “Maple Leaf” bicycle, it quickly became a popular model.

In February 1897 Evans displayed the bicycle at the New York Cycle Show and reportedly sold 50 “wheels” to dealers in Philadelphia and New York. In January of 1898, the Canadian Typograph Co. announced plans to open branch offices and retail outlets in London, Ontario and Montreal.

The company also offered bicycle-riding lessons at the Windsor Curling Club. Instruction was free for E. & D. owners and cost $2.00 for five sessions for all others. Separate sessions were offered for the ladies in the morning and mixed sessions for the rest of the day. 

In September 1899 when it was announced that five Canadian bicycle companies were to be merged to form CCM, Frederick Evans was irate that his E. & D. bicycle company had not been included. Shortly thereafter (October 1899), he announced the establishment of a Canadian branch plant of the American Bicycle Co., a huge conglomerate of 42 American bicycle makers put together by Colonel A. Pope, maker of the Columbia bicycle, and sporting goods magnate A. G. Spalding. 


The Canadian subsidiary of the American Bicycle Co. was to be under Evans' direction and was to be known as the National Cycle & Automobile Co. ("National"). The new company was to include not only the various brands of the American Bicycle Co., but also the E. & D. bicycle and Locomobile motor car. 

Evans informed the Canadian public that the bicycle trade previously done in Canada by the companies that were part of the American Bicycle Co. would now be carried on “by a syndicate of Canadian capitalists, who have purchased for Canada from the American Bicycle Co. all their patents, rights, and good-will and business, and will immediately establish in Canada a complete manufacturing plant, capable of turning out not less than 30,000 bicycles per year.” ("Another Great Bicycle Company", Daily Mail & Empire, October 30, 1899)

          This shows the various brands carried by National.
You know the chances are slim a company will survive when they mis-spell "bicycle." 

Among National's directors were A.G. Spalding (New York), Colonel Pope (Hartford), Edward Stearns (Syracuse) and A.R. Creelman (Toronto). At the time the New York Times reported: “The new company is a branch of the American Bicycle trust, but the Toronto business is largely financed in Canada and will be run chiefly by Canadians.” (New York Times, November 20, 1899)


While the company was initially to be located in Toronto, it landed in Hamilton when the Toronto Parks and Garden Committee was slow in finding them a suitable location. The Hamilton deal was set out in an agreement between the bicycle company and the city that called for the city to provide an estimated $20,000 for the construction of a new factory, while the company, in turn, agreed to provide full-time employment for at least 300 men for 10 years. 

Dave Brown's E. & D.

When National took over the manufacture of the E. & D. bicycle, they agreed to continue to pay the Dodge brothers royalties for the use of their bearing and offered them both jobs. While Horace decided to remain at the Canadian Typograph plant in Windsor, John headed to Hamilton where he was to be National’s general manager. With anticipation in Hamilton running high, temporary facilities were found for the new firm on Barton Street and John Dodge arrived shortly thereafter to oversee the installation of equipment.

  From the outset, National made a conscious effort to bridge its homeland with its new home. The company crest featured a prominent British lion and an American eagle hovering under a Red ensign with the Stars and Stripes in the background and a banner that read, “The greatest tandem team on earth.”

Meanwhile Frederick Evans tried to soothe away any suspicions Canadians had at the time that National was a backdoor entry for the American takeover of Canada’s bicycle industry. He pointed out that National was not taking business away from any Canadian concern, particularly CCM, since CCM had never controlled the trade of the firms acquired by National.

In fact, pointed out Evans, CCM would be strengthened “by the effectual shutting out of the possibility of competition by unreliable firms, which might make Canada their dumping ground.” The arrival of National in Canada would, according to Evans, “create a healthy competition which will regulate prices in the interests of the purchasers.” ("Another Great Bicycle Company", Daily Mail & Empire, October 30, 1899

As it turned out, National's stay in Canada was a short one. In November 1900 it was announced that “after prolonged and well considered negotiations,” Canada Cycle & Motor had acquired control of the National Cycle & Motor Co. and all of its Canadian assets.

As part of the takeover, John and Horace Dodge sold their interest in National to CCM for $7,500 and returned to Detroit where they used the money to open a machine shop, eventually becoming famous for the development of the car that would bear their name.

The only brand-name retained by CCM following its take-over of National was Columbia. As a result when Frederick Evans discovered that neither he nor his E. & D. bicycle was to be included in CCM's purchase of National, he immediately launched what was to be a messy and long-running lawsuit against George Cox and the other CCM directors. With the lawsuit taking several months of arguing and legal wrangling, Evans followed the Dodge brothers to Detroit where he helped establish the Commercial Motor Vehicle Co ., a maker of electric runabouts. 


IIn the end, Evans' lawsuit against CCM proved to be unsuccessful thus bringing to an end production of the E.& D. bicycle.

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CCM and the Golden Jet Take Flight 1968 - 1972
Posted: February 25, 2013


Growing up my favourite hockey player was Bobby Hull. Despite living in a household full of Bruins fans, the sight of him winding up behind his own net for an end-to-end rush inevitably started my heart pounding and brought me to my feet.

My first girlfriend once told me I had shhh'd her mother when Hull was in full flight on the family TV. Her annoyance with me for doing so undoubtedly led to the demise of our relationship. C'mon, I said, it was Bobby Hull for god sakes.  

A well-known photo of Hull pitching hay
on his farm just outside of Belleville, ON. 

Throughout the sixties no player in the NHL was more recognizable or more feared than Bobby Hull. Hailing from Point Anne, ON, just down the road from my hometown of Kingston, the muscular Hull became known as the “Golden Jet,” hockey's marquee player. With most Canadian homes now having a television set, nothing filled the screen on a Saturday night with more excitement than Hull with his blinding speed, blond hair and blistering shot.

In the latter part of the sixties when CCM looked to launch its new line of medium-priced skates and hockey equipment, company president Tom Nease knew he needed to connect the product to a name and face instantly recognizable by Canadian youngsters. He knew exactly whose face it should be. 

No one drew a crowd on or off the ice like the Chicago star. While Blackhawk owner Bill Wirtz called Hull “the greatest public relations man the NHL ever had,” Time magazine maintained "the sight of Robert Marvin Hull...leaning into a hockey puck to be one of the true spectacles of sport- like watching Mickey Mantle clear the roof, or Wilt Chamberlain flick in a basket or Bart Starr throw that beautiful bomb.”(1)


Hull's popularity was seen by Nease as the answer to a longstanding question at CCM - how to expand the company's share of the youth market. Despite the stellar reputation of the CCM Tacks, the Tack was an expensive skate and for that reason alone many parents were reluctant to buy them knowing their youngsters would quickly outgrow them. Nease was right. The launch of the Bobby Hull line, marked with Hull's familiar signature, brought CCM instant market appeal at a level where the company had previously struggled.  




Such success, however, came with a price. When Tom Nease and Hull's agent met in 1968 to hammer out an agreement between the player and the company, the ensuing contract paid the hockey star $25,000 a year for five years. At a time when endorsement deals were relatively rare, one for $125,000 was simply unheard of.


Advertised as “the greatest name in hockey joins the greatest name in hockey equipment,” the deal was defended by Nease based on its scope. Not only could CCM use Hull’s name and photograph to promote its bicycles and hockey equipment, Hull was committed to making six personal appearances annually on behalf of the company at conventions and trade shows.


Hull, who endorsed everything from Ford cars to Jantzen swimwear, paid little heed to the naysayers who claimed he devoted too much time to his off-ice concerns. When he arrived to sign the CCM contract, Hull used his well-known charm to tell reporters: “I’m going to read this little script. I haven’t had time to memorize it.” (2)


It wasn’t just the money that brought Hull to CCM. He'd been using their skates for some time. In fact, he'd been using them ever since CCM's George Parsons discovered Hull had been cutting the back seam out of his previous skates for added comfort. On catching wind of this Parsons approached the design department at CCM and asked if they could develop a custom-fitting skate with the seam moved to the side. Hull tried it and liked it. Buoyed by this success, the company gambled on him feeling the same way about their hockey sticks.




Although he agreed to give up his Northland Pro for a CCM Custom Pro, Hull maintained an escape clause which allowed him to return to his previous brand of stick, if he could demonstrate that it was "vital to the performance of his work.” (3)


Meanwhile Hull's coach, Billy Reay, was concerned about the cost of the stick. “I hope Bobby put a clause in the contract that says the company (CCM) has to supply him with sticks. You have no idea the number of requests we get for one of Hull’s sticks. It must run into a pile of money,” said Reay at the time. (4)


Even Hull’s team mates benefited from the CCM deal. Whenever the company used Hull’s picture in their promotional material with the club insignia or the Blackhawk name showing, a percentage of the fee was paid to the hockey club for distribution among the other players.




In the end CCM's contract with Hull was not renewed, for while it had landed the Golden Jet on the cover of Time, it had landed Tom Nease in a lot of hot water with the company's owners, the Levy brothers, who felt the deal was simply too rich for their taste.


1. "Hawk on the Wing," Time, Vol. 91 No. 9, March 1, 1968, p. 54

2. Milt Dunnell, "The Trouble With Bobby Hull," Toronto Star, February 29, 1968. 

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.


Bobby Hull Makes Hockey History

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Everybody Will Ride the Massey-Harris Wheel
Posted: January 27, 2013












      The above bicycles (with the exception of Jack Gordon's) are from the collection of Peggy Eisenbraun and Roger Goodrich. All images are reprinted with the kind permission of the Massey Harris Ferguson Legacy Quarterly



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