A few weeks ago when the latest copy of Rouleur (issue 20) arrived in the mail. The cover  got me thinking about workshops. The cover shot was clearly staged but it sparked thoughts of real workshops, and specifically my father’s frameshop. There is something great about a work space where bikes are built from scratch. Creativity and the construction of something unique give a space an attractive element whether it is the back of a professional team’s truck or a dusty garage.

I’ve always been intrigued and enchanted by the builders as they brazed, filed and cut in my father’s frameshop in Toronto. Now, my lifelong friend, Noah Rosen, brazes and paints frames in the old workshop with the precision of a craftsman and the eye of an artist. He is passionate about his work and it is stirring to see his devotion to the job and his meticulous attention to detail.

Whenever I am back in Toronto, I relish my days in the shop and wish I had more time to learn from the artisans and artists who work there, as chat they over tea and discuss the things we love.

For the same reason, I also like watching the team mechanics at work on our bikes. They methodically check tires for cuts, true wheels, tape handlebars and pay attention to all the details that make the difference between good and great. Committed to doing their jobs properly, they rarely join us for dinner as they opt to stay out in the truck, late into the night, working on our bikes or preparing equipment for the coming days of racing.

Although he’s now retired my father was asked to build another couple of Mariposa frames for artist Paul Butler. The job was one that was worth firing up the torches for as he was asked to build a replica of Greg Curnoe’s Mariposa. Curnoe’s painting of the bike is now in the National Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario. And, Curnoe who died on his bike when he was hit by a car was a close friend of my father’s.

Below are a few recent photos taken by Dan Bereskin of the workshop, and my Dad building the Curnoe replica. The others photos are of different workshops my father has had over the years and a few of the mechanics, painters and builders at work.

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9 thoughts on “Workshops

  1. Thanks for sharing this Michael – this is the finest photo essay of the lot. I am in awe of your father’s old workshop. It must have been a great place to spend a childhood!

    I don’t know how long he has been retired for or when he lat fired up the torch, but somehow the spirit he transmits as the subject in those photos feels like he never left the building.

    Brilliant stuff! Enjoy what is left of your downtime before firing it up to get ready for spring.

  2. Hi Michael,
    Just a quick note to say that I enjoy reading your posts.
    I visited your dad’s shop about a year before he retired. He very kindly made time to show me around a bit, but as aptly summarized above, I was a little in awe, so I didn’t really retain much. These photos give me a second chance to experience that visit!
    Thanks for for giving us a glimpse into the Mariposa workshop.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Nice to see the old shop photos…brings back memories and also to see your dad still plugging away at what he clearly loves to do. All the best for the upcoming season and I hope to see you in Toronto sometime.


  4. Hi Michael, my bike shop in my basement is affectionately referred to as the “velocave”. A fun place to while away the Canadian winter hours.

    Oh, and just last night I received my copy of the most recent “Canadian Cycling” mag…it also featured a cool cover 😉

  5. Thanks Michael for the glimpse into your father’s workshop and for sharing your memories of this grand time of Canadian bicycle history. A number of Mariposas were riden by friends in northern Ontario and I still remember the bike’s distictive paint jobs and well-appointed componentry. Not only were they the envy of many, the Mariposa brand established a uniquely Canadian cachet in bicycles.

    Cheers, John Sims, Thunder Bay, Ontario

  6. Mike,
    Is your book Le Metier still available? Please let me know asap..Many thanks.


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