This month’s story is a tragic one. It is about a young man whose life was cut short while racing his motorcycle in Headingley.
Did you know that there was a horse race track in Headingley? Yup. Our Holy Trinity Anglican Church,
along with the land of the Headingley Community Centre, would be generally where the south turn of the track was. It was on land that had been donated by John Taylor for community recreational purposes. It was initially used for fairs and exhibitions. The race track came later. It was a quarter mile track, built with an over 6 foot high fence all the way around it. No sneaking peeks at what was going on, on the other side. There were traditional bleachers and a grandstand. It was THE destination for Winnipeggers who
could come all the way out here thanks to the streetcar. The race track operated right up until the time that
a new (and closer) race track was built at Polo Park in 1925.(As an aside, Polo Park operated until the
mid 1950s. By that time, Winnipeg was really growing and land prices in that area were too high to justify
using it only for summer racing. The track moved out to Assiniboia Downs in 1958.The mall, as we know it
today, opened on the Polo Park site in 1959.)
After the horses moved out, the motorcycle guys moved in. It became the racing home of the Canada’s oldest motorcycle club -the Manitoba Motorcycle Club (MMC) (which was founded in 1911 and still exists
today as an amalgamation with the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba).
Joseph Frederick Noakes, born in 1914, was a keen motorcycling enthusiast. He undoubtedly looked up
to his older brother Chuck who was a dispatch rider in WW2 and became Manitoba’s top motorcycle racer for many years.
As you know, I love old motorcycles. I have been interested in all things motorcycle for many many years.
I knew Chuck from hanging out at Tiny Robbins Motorcycle Shop back in the 1970s. So I felt a connection
with Eddie when he joined the Antique Motorcycle Club. As eventually did his son Gord.
Eddie’s daughter Lynn helps with his business -Eddies Sharpening on Wallasey Street in St. James-which
he has been operating since 1983.
Eddie Noakes who was the yougest brother standing in the rec center parking lot pointing to
the turn where his brother was killed in 1936 right behind the church.
I always knew there was a race track in Headingley but no one could really tell me specifics, until Eddie.
Eddie Noakes. Of Noakes motorcycling fame. So I asked him to tell me about his brothers and their love of bike racing.
Freddy ran the racing circuit of the MMC and competed in everything that the club offered. He raced his 1929 Harley JD at the Killarney and the Miami Hill Climbs.
down. Indian Motorcycle used hill climbing as a way to test, and showcase, its new models. You have to be just a little bit crazy to want to try that!
Upswept pipes, purchased from Northwest Cycle on Logan Avenue. He was out in front when he hit a rut
on a turn of the old horse track at speeds of 70 miles per hour. The bike crashed. Freddy was thrown from
the bike. He broke his neck. He was rushed away by ambulance and passed away later that day at the old
Victoria Hospital in Osborne Village.
The MMC suspended all activities for a month. Black ribbons and arm bands were distributed to each member. Eddie reports that there were over a hundred motorcycles in the procession for Freddie’s funeral at Bardal Funeral Home on Sherbrook Street. They had his motorcycle -the crashed one -on a trailer, draped with a black cloth. Freddy is buried at Brookside cemetery.
To this day, when you say the name Noakes in a motorcycle crowd, motorcyclists in the know refer to them as racing royalty of the pre-War/ post-War era. The next time you are enjoying a ball game on the Headingley baseball diamonds, try and imagine a world class race track on the premises. Think back over a 100 years ago when fairs and exhibitions flourished and then when at-the-time Manitoba’s top race track was built.
No one knows exactly when the race track was torn down but young Eddie says it wasn’t around in the
late 1940s when he began racing. The MMC were then holding their races at two tracks in the St. James
area. One was where the Grace Hospital is today and the other one was down behind the St Charles Catholic Church.
I would like to thank Jean Ammeter for some of the original obituary literature on the Noakes. I am sure the Headingley Historical Society would love a copy of an original picture of the Headingley race track if anyone has one.
Pictures from Terry Bacon:
The pictures below along with the following text was sent from Terry Bacon to the MMC June 2021 and are from a box of of his Dad’s items. His Dad was Reid Bacon. Reid, his brother Don and a friend named Kilmore were all from Sprague. All were avid motorcyclists.
Reid’s father Henry “Hank” Bacon had travelled with his wife Edith and both boys in a motorcycle side car extensively, before enforced rules of number allowed.
I do not know if they (any of them) were ever members of the MMC but were at a lot of gatherings and may have even competed at some.
Reid Bacon was a dispatch rider in Italy during WWII. He did not talk about it other trhan to say what a challenge it was to get to and from locations without using he roads or lights. Always in dirt and in thick mud.
The dates on the photos were when my Dad was overseas so I do not know who took them.
Safe biking to you all. Terry Bacon
The MMC on television:
Brown & Winter Motorcycles
Headquarters for the MMC in the 1920’s
Riders West Magazine published an article on the
Manitoba Motorcycle Club.
Archie Cox on what looks to be a 1913 Harley
Newspaper articles about MMC competitions from the 1930s
Sept 27 2014 the Manitoba Motorcycle Club was inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Edmonton Alta.
For over a century the Manitoba Motorcycle Club has been promoting the sport of Motorcycling in Winnipeg. Founded on February 21, 1911, The Manitoba Motorcycle Club is the oldest MC Club in Canada and reported to be the 4th oldest in the world.
Early in the 20th Century, the sport of motorcycling was a thrilling pastime and the 40 founding members of the MMC were soon hosting social rides and endurance events. The first official run was held April 21st, 1911 followed by weekends of family rides, parades and races. Their first 50 mile reliability run was held Sept 1911 and attracted sponsorship from several manufacturers looking to prove their machines.
A World Record for 100 miles on a flat track was set on Oct, 1911 by “Wild” Joe Baribeau one of the MMC founding members and Canadian Hall of Fame Historic Inductee. That achievement brought attention to Winnipeg and a position for Joe with the Hendee (Indian) Manufacturing Co. in Springfield, Illinois, transferring to their Toronto plant in December, 1912. Indian Motocycles sponsored Joe’s return to Winnipeg in 1914 to defend his world record when the MMC hosted the Canadian National TT Championship. Excelsior Motorcycles of Chicago sent two professional riders and sponsored a local boy, “Wild Bill” Pelham while Indian also sponsored Canadian Hall of Fame Historic Inductee, Harold Cole of Ontario and American, Ernie McIntosh. The City of Winnipeg declared a public holiday during that meet.
With the onset of World War II the use of motorcycles became important for the movement of dispatches. The Canadian Army needed skilled riders so the members of Manitoba Motorcycle Club stepped up and offered their services as instructors. Considered “experts in rough field riding” the club members were pivotal in aiding the army to develop its motorcycle corps.
For many years, the MMC managed every aspect of the sport of motorcycling in Manitoba including social events, touring and competitions of all descriptions. There were also precision Drill Teams and thrill shows with motorcycle jumping and flaming wall crashes to entertain the crowds at exhibitions and other sporting events. Dates of the clubs activities were regularly reported in the Winnipeg Tribune and Manitoba Free Press as well as acknowledgment of the winning contestants.
Throughout its history the club has maintained a tradition of public service and participation in community and charitable events. During the 1970’s and 80’s toy runs became a popular way for the MMC to help children in need and promote a positive image of motorcyclists. During the 1990’s a safety awareness run was added to the calendar of events to kick off National Motorcycle Safety Awareness month in Manitoba.
It is clear that the MMC’s early legacy in the community was through its decades of promoting race events. For over 70 years the club has hosted dirt track, ice races, hillclimbs and motocross and show cased the skills of riders throughout Manitoba. There have been several world class and national caliber MMC members. World Flat track record holder Joe Baribeau; Paul Germain, a Canadian Flat track Champion with over a dozen AHRMA National Championships, 2 AMA National Championships and 3 World Championships in Vintage Road Racing and counting; also Kim Houde, a Provincial Champion with a 125cc Canadian Championship and the 2006 over 50 World Vet Championship in Motocross. These riders and others have proudly represented Canadian and Manitoba’s motorcycle racing throughout North America.
In 2010 the MMC amalgamated with the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba. While retaining its heritage the MMC now boasts a new crest, over 100 members and a new vision for the next 100 years of motorcycle riding in Manitoba.
Video by Scott Thomson of the induction introduction of the MMC at the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame ceremony 2014.
Manitoba Motorcycle Club, MMC est. Feb 21/1911
The oldest continuously active motorcycle club in Canada,
3th oldest in N America and
4th oldest in the world.
The MMC has been inducted into the Canadian motorcycle hall of fame Sept 27th 2014
In 2010 a near all consuming fire at the MMC clubhouse prompted the remaining members to approach the AMCM with a proposal to merge the two clubs under one executive and operating body. The membership of both clubs welcomed the merger and one the first orders of business was the the design of a new crest celebrating the 100 years of the Manitoba Motorcycle Club. (top of page)
Much more is being done to preserve and promote MMC history, activities and events past and future, and news will be posted here as it develops.
From the AMCM/MMC meeting Mar 25 2014:
MMC/AMCM Amalgamation. After much discussion the following statement was agreed upon, proposed and seconded, voted on, and carried unanimously;
The status quo concerning the amalgamation of the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba and the Manitoba Motorcycle Club, having taken place some years ago, would remain unchanged. The name “Manitoba Motorcycle Club” must be perpetuated and not let lapse or die, through annual MMC Rides, combined patch, etc.
The Manitoba Motorcycle Club invites anyone with pictures, films or other MMC memorabilia to share it with us as well as join us at a meeting as a guest (last Tuesday of the month @HD of Wpg 1377 Niakwa Rd East) or fill out a membership application available here on the site and mail it in or bring it to a meeting. Former MMC members and any motorcycle enthusiast welcome to help us preserve and promote the Oldest Motorcycle Club in Canada.
An email was received March of 2013;
My father FRED MOULSON was a member of the MMC in the late 30’s, 40’s and up to 1955. He was the hill climb champion, dirt track and had won, along with Chuck Noakes (sp), many of the TT races in as a member of the MMC. I, his son, was the mascot for many years. I have several photos of him and even submitted some to the AMA for the museum. In 1955, my dad, mom, brother and myself, along with our dog sparky, left Winnipeg and headed first to Flagstaff AZ., then on up to Victoria, B.C. in a BSA Golden Flash and a home-built sidecar. The trip took a long time – I think a month- but we had the time of our lives. At least that’s how I remember it. He lived there until his death in 1983. He was good friends with Tiny Robbins. I was the youngest of his three children and the only one that took an interest in motorcycling. Today I have a restored (beautiful) 1965 BSA 650 Lightning which I ride on occasion (and a 2007 Honda 600 which I ride almost every day). BTW, my mother back in the late 40’s or early 50’s was one of the women that started the Travelongs – the female branch of the MMC. I still have one of her patches on my leather jacket. Kindest regards,
Timothy E. R. Moulson
Slideshow of photos from Timothy Moulson below press the > to play
I received a correspondence from Bill I. a former Manitoban now located in Cambodia. He shared with me that he obtained the bronze MMC plaque that hung above his great uncle’s workbench in the garage after his passing, it now hangs atop his front door. His great uncle Bob S. was a MMC member back in the 40’s and rode an Indian in hill climbing events. More information on the plaque , Bill and his great uncle to follow. Thanks Bill
1. FOUNDATION AND TITLE
This body founded in Feb 21/1911; named changed in 1911; and incorporated in 1969, shall be called the Manitoba Motorcycle Club Incorporated, hereinafter termed the M.M.C.
A. To promote the sport of motorcycling by:
- i. Encouraging riders to be gentlemanly and orderly, thus creating public goodwill.
- ii. Building a desire in outsiders to become members of the M.M.C.
B. To provide year-round activities for the motorcycle rider by:
- i. Arranging picnics and runs to other cities,
- ii. Sponsoring inside parties, socials, dances, etc.
- iii. Attending other clubs doings and sports.
C. To help in the building of character by:
- i. Building a sense of responsibility on the part of the club officials and general membership as a whole.
- ii. Teaching good fellowship, tolerance, and good sportsmanship to all members,
iii. Encouraging safe riding habits.
From the Indian News Nov-Dec 1936
AJS, Ariel, BSA, BMW, Brough, Cam-Am, Ducati, Harley, Honda, Indian, Francis-Barnett, James, Kawasaki, New Hudson, Norton, Matchless, Moto-Guzzi, Royal Enfield, Suzuki, Triumph, Velocette, Villiars, Vincent, Yamaha, Manitoba Motorcycle Club, MMC, amcm, motorcycle, antique, ducati, bmw, moto guzzi, brough, scooter, motorbike, Villiers, harley davidson, vintage, hodaka, benelli, bridgestone, bultaco, honda cb, montessa, sears, zundapp, whizzer, simplex, cycle, mustang, cushman, allstate, twingle, puch, aermacchi, dkw, nsu, jawa, cz, vespa, lambretta, motobi, ossa, silver pigeon, miyata, yamaguchi, pionter, fuji rabbit, tohatsu, marusho, ace 100, super rat, combat wombat, dirt squrit, road toad, vintage, classic, henderson, crocker, curtiss, excelsior henderson, iver johnson, hrd, sunbeam, husqvarna, mitsubishi, laverda, mz, maico, nimbus, rokon, yard marvel mountaineer, Cleveland, scott, mv agusta, aprilla, sachs, hill climb, motocross, scramble, tt, tourist trophy, lemans, flat track, dirt track, enduro, drag, nitro, nitrous,