Collecting antique bicycles a compulsion

Dave
Dave Mathieson
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PARRSBORO –Bicycles in the 1800s had a huge wheel on the front and a tiny wheel on the back, but those bikes were relegated to the scrapheap of history in the late 1800s.

“I try to concentrate on pre-1920 safety-style bicycles, not the high-wheel bikes. That’s a different collection all together,” said bicycle collector, Wayne Gillies. “I focus on the ‘Safety Bicycle’ which is the diamond frame still used today.”

Gillies’ has a collection of 80 antique bicycles, many that were built in the late 1800s.

“The second oldest bike I have is an 1894 Crescent. It was in a barn in Athol of all places,” said Gillies. “I got that about four years ago and I’ve been searching for parts every since.

“I had one of my machinists run it through a machine and I almost have it finished,” he added. “There’s a special kind of spoke that goes on it. It’s a double-butted spoke that is 12-gauge on the ends and 14-gauge in the centre, and they have to be custom made.”

The collection features an Eaton’s bike with wooden handlebars, bikes with wooden rims and a bike from 1899 that is one of the first bikes built by CCM.

Gillies points to a 1898 Columbia bicycle with a drive shaft instead of a chain and says, “some of the things they were doing in the 1890s, motorbikes started doing 30 or 40 years ago.”

Gillies has been collecting bicycles for about four years.

“I’m not too new to the hobby but I’ve really immersed myself in it during the last three and four years,” he said. “It’s like any collection. First off it’s a passion, then it’s something to acquire and then it becomes a compulsion. It’s an all-encompassing thing.”

Gillies has a home in Truro and one on the Harrison Settlement Road near Parrsboro, and he had his bicycle collection on display at the Fundy Shore Auto Club 15th annual Show n’ Shine Sunday at the Lions Arena in Parrsboro.

“It’s about networking. People know who I am, and that’s why I come to the shows,” said Gillies. “I usually have a sign out there saying I buy old bicycles. A lot of people know me and I get referrals.”

Gillies has bought almost all his bikes in Canada but says the antique bicycle collection community is bigger in the U.S.

“There may be half a dozen of us in the province and a hundred or so across Canada but it’s a big hobby in the states.”

Asked if it’s an expensive hobby, Gillies said, “It’s not cheap.”

Gillies admits his passion for collecting bikes has got a little out of hand.

“I have too many projects, so anything from the 40s, 50s, and 60s is going to find its way out of the collection.”

 

 

Organizations: Fundy Shore Auto Club, Lions Arena

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Canada, Truro Harrison Settlement Road U.S.

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