The Rivers Train Station
Restoration Committee is undertaking a research project on the Sekine
Bicycle Plant and its role in our history.
For nearly a
decade, beginning in 1973, thousands of high-quality Sekine bicycle
were manufactured near Rivers, Manitoba at the Oo-za-we-Kwun Centre in
facilities that were once part of one of the most important Air Force
Bases in Canada.
story of the
Sekine Bicycle Company in Canada is a story that brings together many
threads of the larger history of our community, our nation, and our
trade relationships with the outside world.
It was a time of
expansion in the bicycle industry. Biking was no longer just for kids.
Fitness was becoming fashionable, and recreational bike use was taking
off. Amongst the dedicated cyclists a quality bike was a necessity, and
a status symbol. The Sekine became the BMW of the youthful, fitness
conscious, urban professional.
That change in
lifestyle along with the general growth of international trade spelled
success for Sekine. What had started as a small but successful
business, supplying the local market in Japan since 1912, was now
becoming an international player in an expanding field.
decided to open a plant it just so happened that the recently abandoned
Canadian Forces Base near Rivers, now home to the Oo-Za-We-Kwun Centre,
had both the infrastructure, and the workforce such a factory would
Their bikes soon
became known for their excellent quality, and for several years
business was good. Up to one hundred people were employed, and the
bikes were marketed across North America.
the “Bike Boom” that sponsored the interest in building Sekines in
Canada tapered off. In addition to that a new lower the tariff on
imports encouraged a rush of competition.
The plant closed
in 1981 and Sekine focused on its operations in Japan. So ended a
short, but important and interesting, chapter in the history of Rivers.
project covers the full history the Sekine Canada and will be adapted
for display on our Heritage Website
(http://www.riversdalyheritage.ca). Watch for updates on the Rivers
Train Station Restoration Committee Facebook page.
We plan to
present this historical work on May 30th as part of our Celebrate 150
If you have any
information, memories, or photos relating to the Sekine Factory we’d
like to hear from you. If there is anyone out there who worked in
the plant I’m sure your memories would be valuable to us.