Peterborough’s Bicycle History

Did you know, Peterborough held the first ever provincial meet of the Canadian Wheelman's Association? The main event was held on July 1, 1898.

4-2000-012-000212-3 - Cricket Grounds c 1890

Story by Steve Brearton

In 1898, Peterborough is a city of possibilities. Growing, prosperous and attracting new industry, the community is called ‘The Electric City’ as Canada’s first municipality to use electric streetlights. In the 1890s, the bicycle represents technology, modernity and progress and Peterborough’s civic leader’s see those traits in their own community. It’s only natural they want to host the Canadian Wheelmen’s Association’s Ontario meet.

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New film aims to animate the story of cycling pioneer Nora Young

Above centre, Nora Young readies herself for competition at the 6-Day Race event at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1936. Credit: Nora Young Collection/Julia Morgan

Nora Young blazed a trail on two wheels

Now a film about her aims to combine local history, cycling, feminism, and art in a new animated film about this unknown cycling pioneer

Nora Young (1917 – 2016) was a Toronto-based female cycling pioneer from the 1930s. Never heard of her? Enter Julia Morgan, a filmmaker working on an animated short documentary called Undeniably Young: Nora Young and the Six-Day Race. The project is about Nora and an unusual, gritty, fun, and historically significant cycling race she was involved in at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1936. Julia’s interviews, coupled with other research, has already been used as the basis for a successful application to have Nora inducted into Canada’s Cycling Hall of Fame. Julia says meeting Nora changed her life.

Julia is currently crowdfunding (www.igg.me/at/NoraYoungFilm) for her film, which she plans to release sometime in 2019 so dandyhorse caught up with her to offer support and find out more.

When did you first meet Nora and find out about her cycling history?

It was in 2005. I had recently moved to the Danforth. Nora was holding a garage sale, and offering her neighbours gin and tonics! It was about 11 in the morning, and it felt more like a party than a garage sale. Later, I happened upon a young adult book called Great Girls about some of Canada’s most important female athletes by feminist sports journalist Laura Robinson, and it had a chapter about Nora. That’s when I started to understand the tremendous scope of her cycling accomplishments.

What made you want to tell Nora’s story?

Becoming friends with Nora herself. Her spirit was incredible. She was so lively and fearless, curious about everything, and someone who clearly made the most of every moment. The second reason was because in learning about her cycling legacy, particularly in the 1920s – 40s, I found out about what is called the “Golden Age of Women’s Sports.” And once I dug further into this Golden Age, I was fascinated, and I couldn’t believe that hardly anyone knew about it, and I wanted them to.

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