The Art of Distraction draws attention to distracted driving

Story and photos by Jun Nogami

The Art of Distraction is a multi media campaign launched by the City of Toronto to remind drivers of the potentially fatal consequences of not paying attention while behind the wheel. Among the more visible parts of the campaign are five striking advertisements on bus shelters, with four downtown and one in East York. Each of these shows smashed items along with a back story. What makes some of them particularly powerful is that they use some of the actual items involved in a fatality. This campaign is co-sponsored by Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS), an organization that was founded by the relatives and friends of several road victims.

Here are some of the stories behind each of these five.

King and Spadina: Edouard Le Blanc.

 

Edouard Le Blanc was killed at the age of 63 in October 2014. He was biking on the Gatineau corridor multi-use trail and was crossing Warden Ave at the signalized intersection when a car ran the red light and hit him.

The driver was convicted of careless driving and fined $700. The display shows Edouard's helmet.

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Peterborough’s Bicycle History on Display

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

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

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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dandyhorse fab fall newsletter is here

Our fab fall dandyhorse newsletter has arrived!

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The History of CCM in Weston Ontario

A Cyclical Business

For over 65 years, Weston – known simply as the “home of the bicycle” for its CCM connection – housed the cycle giant’s 232,000-square-foot head office and factory.

By Steve Brearton, from dandyhorse issue 2 

Last year was a winning one for Toronto cycling manufacturer Cervélo. In 2008, Carlos Sastre won the Tour de France on a Cervélo and their bikes were ridden to three Gold, five Silver and two Bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics. And although the company, founded in 1995, may not be a household name to all, they have become the largest manufacturer of time trial and triathlon bikes in the world.

Pretty impressive, but Toronto’s cycling industry stretches back more than a hundred years to a period when the bicycle was this nation’s most alluring high tech product. During the 1890s, the bicycle was the world’s first mass market consumer luxury item and constant innovation drove consumer demand in the same manner that some people today crave the latest iPod or Blackberry.

 

It was the golden age of bike manufacturing in the city and among the brands produced locally were Challenge, Pilot, Skylark, Cleveland, Antelope, Silver Ribbon, Gendron, Planet, Comet, Wanderer and Sun bicycles. In 1895 in a city with just over 180,000 residents, at least 13 different Toronto firms built cycles and 90 bike stores sold an estimated 18,000 bicycles.

No firm, however, better reflects the opportunities – and pitfalls – generated by the early boom than Comet cycles. As early as 1882, Thomas Fane partnered with Charles Lavender to start T. Fane & Company, makers of Comet bikes. (Fane was a championship racer for the Toronto Bicycle Club in the 1880s, who married Florence ‘Gypsy’ Creed – reportedly Toronto’s first women cyclist. Their child, Ethel, rode a child-sized Comet.)

By 1890, Comet produced nine different men’s and women’s bikes, boasted a factory at 33 Adelaide St. West and a satellite operation in Buffalo. In 1895, Comet moved to a handsome five-story building on Temperance St., the top story of which was used for a bicycle school.

These were heady days for builders like Tom Fane, who imagined ever- expanding markets for his product. In fact, Comet and others were coasting toward a series of hits as quick and catastrophic as a “door prize.” In 1899 the firm went bankrupt.

Comet was the victim of too much competition, particularly from large US companies situated in Canada. The economic circumstances that sank Comet were also affecting other bicycle makers – including Canada’s largest – and realignment of the industry would lead to the emergence of a single dominant manufacturer.

In 1899, the Canada Cycle & Motor Company Limited (ccm) was formed by Canada’s largest bike makers, including Massey-Harris, Welland Vale and Toronto’s Gendron. Together, they made an estimated 85 per cent of Canadian cycles.

Canadian Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd. would dominate the Canadian bicycle industry for over 80 years, but the story of ccm is also a west Toronto story because they were located in the Junction and then later in Weston. For over 65 years, Weston – known simply as the “home of the bicycle” for its ccm connection – housed the cycle giant’s 232,000-square-foot head office and factory.

The new venture may have addressed competitive issues, but another, greater challenge loomed; with the arrival of the new century the public’s intense fascination with the bicycle ended and the car would soon replace the bike in evoking progress.

CCM responded to new business conditions with layoffs and by shifting production in 1906 to the former Lozier plant on Weston Rd., just north

of St. Clair Ave. Tubing for frames was brazed, cranks and pedals forged, among other parts produced on-site, and up to 200 bikes were assembled daily at the 137,000-square-foot plant. (The previous year, they also intro- duced their iconic hockey line.)

CCM was one of Canada’s first major manufacturers that distributed coast-to-coast and into global markets. By the ’30s Toronto-made bicycles were ridden in 40 nations. Fewer cyclists were racing or touring for plea- sure, but many more commuted by bicycle. Cyclists were buying “strong, serviceable machines,” many of those built by ccm in Toronto. From 1920 until the mid-’30s ccm enjoyed record sales, in part due to a new target demographic – women. Ads proclaimed this “dignified and effective means of ‘reducing’ is fast becoming the vogue.”

By 1930, Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd. was one of only three large bicycle manufacturers in the nation – down from about 25 in 1898 – and produced the majority of Canadian cycles, among them the Rambler, the Light Delivery bicycle and the Flyer, ccm’s top-end racer. The city also continued to have a handful of small bicycle makers, among them Planet, a survivor of the l890s, as well as Alan Kay Cycles and specialty frame builders, such as the iconic Doc Morton, who built racing frames on Dundas St. for some of Canada’s fastest wheelmen in the ’20s and ’30s.

Entering their second half century, ccm claimed there were more than a million of their bikes on Canada’s roads, but the bicycle had fallen out of favour with Torontonians and the company was in terminal decline. In 1983 ccm went bankrupt, putting almost 600 employees out of work.

CCM’s closure severed ties to Toronto’s historic industry, but other niche producers prospered. One example being in 1969 when John Palmer and Michael Barry Sr. began assembling their trademark Mariposa cycles after purchasing a shipment of lightweight tubing ccm no longer wanted. By the mid-’80s, Mariposa was building and painting about 100 touring and racing bikes annually for enthusiasts like Canadian artist Greg Curnoe whose reproductions of them are featured in galleries and collections across the country, as well as on the cover of this magazine.

Forty years later, it’s Cervélo – the new kid on the block – doing its part to rekindle the glory of Toronto’s great bike brands. This year, Cervélo became the first bike manufacturer in decades to have a team competing in cycling’s greatest races. Once again, Toronto is a city that resonates in cycling circles around the world.

Steve Brearton is a Toronto writer and researcher. He will be leading a walking tour of the history of the bicycle in Toronto as part of Jane’s Walk, on May 3. janeswalk.net

Photo reproduced courtesy of Massey-Ferguson Limited.

This story originally appeared in issue 2 of dandyhorse from spring 2009. 

Crossposted the The Bicycle Museum - COMING SOON! 

 

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