Sekine of Canada

Manufactured at the Oo-za-we-Kwun Centre, Rivers. 1973 - 1981

The Canadian Sekine company was, apparently, a joint effort between the Canadian
government, the Japanese business machine and a First Nation business group.

The Sekine Story - Excerpt from the Winnipeg Free Press

Excerpts from "Cycle of Life" by David Sanderson, Winnipeg Free Press


Derek Eidse, University of Winnipeg Collegiate instructor and independent filmmaker, is working on a documentary about Sekine bicycles, which were made in Manitoba during the ’70s and ’80s.

The Manitoba Sekine Cycles plant, a job initiative program funded by the provincial and federal governments in conjunction with the Japanese parent company and a First Nation business group, closed in 1981. During Sekine Canada’s heyday, the factory wheeled out as many as 50,000 bikes a year.

Workers from reserves in northern Manitoba and were put up in the old base housing.

In 1973 when they opened they employed 100 people, 805 were first nations people. They produced 50,000 bikes the first year.
At any one point, there were about 25 managers living in Rivers, all of whom had been transferred there from Japan. For his film, Eidse interviewed a former Sekine manager who moved to Winnipeg after the plant closed, and now lives in St. James with his Rivers-born wife.

“We talked about the culture shock of coming to Canada from Japan, and a lot about the history of the Sekine company itself,” Eidse says. “I also spoke with some bike-shop owners about the Sekine boom in Winnipeg during the 1970s, and with a couple of guys who used to work in the factory. One of them told me he still gets a sense of pride when he spots a Sekine on the road today.”


Tim Woodcock, owner of Woodcock Cycle, in his shop with a Sekine bike from the ’80s. The competitive bike racer recalls taking part in a 160-km race sponsored by the company.

Tim Woodcock, owner of Woodcock Cycle Works at 433 St. Mary’s Rd., was 13 years old when he got a job selling and assembling Sekine bicycles at MGM Sporting Goods on Pembina Highway — and 14 when his parents took him to Rivers to compete in a 160-kilometre road race sponsored by Sekine Canada.

“The plant really wanted to promote its top-end racing bike — the PR-10 — so they staged a series of races to raise that particular bike’s profile,” says Woodcock, who still races bikes competitively. “It was one of the first bikes to feature Shimano components, before Shimano became one of the most dominant parts suppliers in the industry.”
Woodcock says Sekine bikes didn’t only perform well — they looked sharp, too.
“They had really neat head-badges (on the frames), some had super nice chrome on the front fork and back chainstay, there were some really wild colours. It was just a cool, iconic brand.”
Woodcock’s shop includes a large service department. During the last several years, he has noticed more and more people bringing in old Sekine bikes to have them refurbished — a trend sparked, he says, by “bike-courier culture.”


In May 1976, Richard DeBernardis purchased a Manitoba-made Sekine bike from a dealer in Anchorage,
Alaska and spent the next 40 days pedalling it from Anchorage to the Mexican border in California. Two years later,
DeBernardis set off on a trip billed “around the U.S.A. in 180 days.”  a feat that earned him a spot in the
Guinness World Records.

He was invited to the manufacturing plant in 1981 and given a new Sekine which he used on a tour of the perimeter
of Japan’s four main islands.

His first Sekine bicycle now hangs above my desk in his office at Perimeter Bicycling Association
of America, a non-profit corporation that, since 1986, has raised more than $50 million for a∂ variety
of charities in the United States.

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