It began on Friday afternoon, August 4. Motorcycles in all shapes and sizes casually turned in the driveway of the Pritchard farm on the Gore Road in Hinchinbrooke for the Moto Expo vintage motorcycle rally, put on by the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group of Montreal. Some riders arrived in cars, trailers with vintage bikes in tow. Some rode in on motorcycles weighed down with gear. The Pritchard farm has hosted this event since its beginning in 1991; this was the rally’s 31st year, as the annual event returned last year after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
10 acres of the farm were sectioned off to display motorcycles of all types. Though the event is predominantly a vintage motorcycle rally, the August sun reflected off the shiny chrome of many new bikes as well. Former CVMG president, Peter McEwen, said, “All of us are getting on. The kick starters [on the older bikes] are hard on your knees and hips.” New motorcycles start with a key or have an electric start button.
The rally itself has gone through many growing pains over the years. McEwen explained, “We have been doing this rally for 30 years, and it’s taken us a long time to get the kinks out.” In the beginning, children’s games were a part of the event as many riders had young families. “As the kids grew, those got phased out,” he said. A wife of one of the bikers remarked that the kids all grew up and learned how to ride motorcycles.
The motorcycling passion
There is a distinct camaraderie and a shared passion for motorcycling that is evident in this club, and it was clearly embodied in Boyd Settlement residents Roger Lefebvre and his wife Jocelyne Vaillancourt who have been riding motorcycles for 40 years. Vaillancourt was in wheelchair, having lost her lower left leg in a motorcycling accident April 16. She was in hospital until May 12 and was released from a readaptation center on June 24. She smiled as she said, “I’ll be ready to go [in the rally] next year.” She is awaiting a prothesis before she can ride her new motorcycle, a 2012 Harley Davidson FLHTCU. When asked why she would even think of motorcycling again, she responded, “If I had had a car accident, I would still drive a car. I still want to do [it].”
The 2023 Rally
The CVMG has 130 members, but 30 worked diligently to make the rally happen. Motorcyclists started arriving on the Friday, but the activities really geared up on Saturday, August 5. There was an all-day swap meet where riders traded motorcycle parts, and a flea market that contained various motorcycle-related items. At 10 a.m. the “Concours d’elegance” showcased motorcycles from the ‘40s,’50s,’60s and more, and an awards ceremony took place afterwards. Many riders packed up after the awards, and as the steady stream of motorcycles passed through the gate, “Safe trip!” was heard over the P.A. system. The remaining group and their families stayed on for the corn roast and campfire that started at 4:30 p.m.
Sunday was “Members and Friends Day,” with a trail ride through the woods and then the Road Run where 30 to 40 members lined up to ride together for about an hour through the countryside. After, as McEwen remarked, “Everyone buggies off home.”
This year’s rally saw over 1000 visitors. 90 per cent of the proceeds go the Barrie Memorial Hospital and the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The rest is distributed among charities such as the “Ride for Dad” [for prostate cancer research], research funds for colorectal cancer, and this year Ste. Justine’s Hospital has been added.
McEwen watches the retreating motorcycles as they pass by in a cloud of dust. “Last year was good, but we beat it this year,” he says with pride.