Manufactured at the
Oo-za-we-Kwun Centre, Rivers. 1973 - 1981
The Canadian Sekine company was, apparently, a joint effort between the
government, the Japanese business machine and a First Nation business
The Sekine Story - Excerpt from the Winnipeg
Excerpts from "Cycle
of Life" by David Sanderson, Winnipeg Free Press
Derek Eidse, University of
Collegiate instructor and
independent filmmaker, is working on a documentary about Sekine
bicycles, which were made in Manitoba during the ’70s and ’80s.
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
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.”
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
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
“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
“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
SEKINE WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING
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
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
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
charities in the United States.