My cycling history project

Six-day star Torchy Peden of Vancouver. Photographer unknown

Six-day star Torchy Peden of Vancouver. Photographer unknown

Canada has a big place in the history of cycling but it can be hard to find any information about it.

A few books have been published over the years — Freewheeling: The Story of Bicycling in Canada by William Humber; Old Roads and New by J.B. Wadley; Six Days of Madness by Ted Harper. But the most recent of these was published in 1993, and they’re all out of print.

There are other resources out there, but little of it is available online, and that’s what I’m trying to change with this project.

I have all of the books I’ve listed above, as well as some research of my own, what’s available online and a historical record of Canadian results compiled by G.A. Peters in 1972 with the help of Russ Coupland, Keith Jones, Ian Jobling and Ken Smith. This binder was sent to Peter McCaffrey in 1992 and somehow ended up at the Canadian Cycling Association offices, where I rescued it from obscurity.

I have started to compile this information on my website, and I could use some help.

There are three types of information I’m looking for: Race results, personal stories and contemporary accounts.

So far, I’ve put together a section for race results, and I’ve gathered some newspaper articles on Ottawa’s only 6-day race in 1936. But there’s no way I can gather everything by myself.

If you have race results for any major Canadian events — including provincial championships — please send them to me at ottawaspokesman@gmail.com, ideally as a spreadsheet, though I’ll take any format.

I’d also like stories about significant people in Canadian cycling history, interviews, photos, video, and newspaper and magazine clippings. Links to stuff that’s already online are fine — I don’t have time to track everything down myself.

If you want to delve directly into research, your city archives or library will have microfilm of old newspapers, or you can dig through Google’s excellent — if incomplete — newspaper archive. Here’s the Ottawa Citizen edition with the first race report from the 1936 6-day. But most of the good information out there isn’t online — it’s in people’s basements, in shoe boxes and tucked away on dusty shelves.

Once I get enough info I’ll build a website dedicated to it — perhaps even a wiki. But for now, I’d like to keep it simple.

Thanks for your help.

– Kris Westwood

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About kwestwood

Ottawa cyclist and journalist who cares about the future of both.
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8 Responses to My cycling history project

  1. Don Westwood says:

    ‘Allo mon fils; You have to contact Walter Wiltshire at walter@wiltshirearch.com. He will know how you may get access to the amazing collection of scrapbooks of the late Lorne Atkinson, whose involvement with the racing scene in Canada goes back at least to the 30s. I think his son still runs the bike shop in Vancouver, but Walter will tell you more. I saw those books, and it’s even worth a special visit, I assure you. So if something else out there comes up….. Pop xn

  2. I just completed the ‘Blizzard Bike Club’ history on Facebook (1982 to present) and have a few older newspaper articles about Steve B, Fraser, Tom Morris, Max Grace etc. I started racing in the mid sixties so there are a few newspaper results from those days too. Are you interested if I scan them and E mail them to you? A few old Cycle Edmonton,’72 Nat’s etc. Best Regards, Pat Ferris

  3. I am preparing a bibliography of books that have been published (in English) on cycle racing.

    Do you know if other books about Canadian cycle racing and/or racers (i.e. to those listed above) have been published?
    Does the book “The Ride to Modernity – The Bicycle in Canada 1869-1900″, Toronto Press, 2001, include pages on cycle racing?
    I was not aware that Wadley’s book also dealt with Canadian cycle racing. To a substantial extent?

    Many thanks in advance for your valuablehelp.

    Best regards,

    • kwestwood says:

      Hi Wilfried,
      The first half of Wadley’s book is on Paris-Brest-Paris, but the second half deals with Canadian racing: The 1971 Tour de la Nouvelle France (won by Guido Reybroeck), and the indoor track racing scene in the little Ontario town of Delhi.
      If you’re interested in Canadian races, you can also watch this 16-minute National Film Board documentary on the 1965 Tour du St. Laurent: http://www.nfb.ca/film/60_cycles_en

      I haven’t read The Ride to Modernity so I don’t know if there’s much about racing.

      The only other Canadian cycling book I’ve come across is Riding with the Wind: The History of Cycling in Saskatchewan, which deals with a very specific geographic area.

      Kris W.

  4. Kay Kingsmill says:

    Hello: I am doing geneological research on my husband’s ffamily who were very involved in the Canadian Wheelmen’s Association from the 1930s on.
    They had a good friendship with two of the Canadian Champions Torchy & Doug Peden of Calgary, Alberta.
    Because of this I have some old photographs of Torchy Peden and several other racers, newspaper clippings about races and other news items pertaining to the Association from the Toronto Star (unfortunately undated), as well as the Canadian Wheelmen’s Association licence belonging to Jim, one of my husband’s uncles.
    His uncle George used to race in the Bicycle Carriers Division where they did their race with a measured weight in a basket (carrier) on the front of the bike.
    I can scan and fax any of this to you if you have an interest in it. Kay K.

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