Bike City: A Must See
Whether you are a city resident or just passing through on 2 or 4 or more wheels, there is a fascinating new exhibit recently opened in Toronto that any avid cyclist or budding historian is not going to want to miss.
Bike City – On now till November 17 at the Market Gallery located on the second floor of the south St. Lawrence Market.
Not to share too many spoilers, as you must go and learn more yourself, here are some of the fascinating bits of historic Toronto bike culture we learned from this well curated and documented exhibit:
- Bikes have been built in Toronto since 1882.
- Early manufacturers that included Massey-Harris, merged to create Canada Cycle & Motor Company (CCM brand) to combat American competition.
- CCM opened a state of the art manufacturing facility in the city in 1917 at Lawrence Ave West and Weston Road, operating on the premises that became known as the centre of Canadian cycle manufacturing for more than 60 years.
- Replacing the high wheeler (more commonly known as the penny-farthing) a ‘safety bicycle’ with the same basic configuration of bikes we ride today, was invented in 1885.
CCM Flyte (1937) – The company’s only patented frame design with special features and Art Deco appeal.
- Bicycle races (Dunlop Trophy) and bike clubs (the first one being the Toronto Bicycle Club in 1881) fuel the bicycle ‘craze’ at the end of the 19th century.
- In 1929, bicycle licenses become mandatory in Toronto, costing 50 cents a year. The bylaw is not repealed until 1957.
- Fast forward, and John Sewell a newly elected alderman in 1969 (equivalent to city councillor today) is called ‘undignified’ and ‘disrespectful’ for riding his bike to City Hall. He later went on to be Mayor (1978 to 1980) and an early cycling advocate.
- More city specific: In 1979, the city’s first bike lane opened on Popular Plains Road. The first portion of the Martin Goodman Trail (now also a part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail) opened from Humber River to Parliament Street in 1984.
The exhibit is not all fact and figures. There are a number of vintage bicycles, interesting artifacts, displays and old photographs. Well worth the visit, small admission fee, and perfect activity to round out a shopping trip or snack fest at the St. Lawrence Market.
For more information on Bike City, admission, hours and directions, click HERE.