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.

The 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.

When Sekine 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 need.

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.

Unfortunately, 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.
 
The illustrated 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 Celebrations weekend.

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.


Presented by The Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee

The Committee would like to acknowledge
the support of Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism
in the development of this initiative,
through a grant from the Heritage Grants Program
and through ongoing guidance and support of the
Historic Resources Branch.