Michael John Barry, father, grandfather, husband and a pillar of Canada’s cycling community, died on Dec. 29 at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 80.

Born in Wimbledon, England in 1938 to Percival and Eva Fanny (Vardill) Barry, Mike was a builder of communities, an inexhaustible source of knowledge of all aspects of cycling and a mentor to countless people. Although, quiet and modest, he was loath to take credit for his many achievements or his profound influence.

Mike’s association with cycling began with London’s derelict bombsites which he scavenged for bicycle parts following the Second World War. Resold, some of the better parts funded his cycling, which started when he was 10, or they became the foundation of what ultimately was an extensive collection.

After serving in the Royal Air Force, and racing on its cycling team, Mike moved to Canada in 1965. While he was traveling throughout the world as a spectrometer technician, Mike and his friend John Palmer purchased a collection of bicycle tubing that had once belonged to C.C.M. In 1969, Mariposa Number One emerged from a rented basement workshop. Nearly 50 years later, and somewhat to Mike’s amazement, Mariposas continue to be hand built in Toronto.

Along with Mariposa, Mike co-founded, with Mike Brown, Bicyclesport which set a new standard for bike stores in Canada. While Mike was in the bicycle business, he never regarded himself as a businessman. Mariposa, Bicyclesport and his subsequent shops became the birthplace of several bicycle clubs and teams for both adults and children. Mike, along with his wife Clare (Lapp) Barry, who he married in 1972, volunteered as race organizers and officials.

But above all, Mike was a source of inspiration, knowledge and guidance and witty conversation for generations of cyclists ranging from commuters and bike couriers to elite road racers. He changed many of their lives. The only cycling discipline that never attracted his attention was mountain biking.

Mike was also a keen runner completing the Boston Marathon.

Mike and Clare’s son Michael inherited his love of cycling. Along with his wife Dede (Demet) Barry, Michael continues to run Mariposa. Their children, LiamBarry and Ashlin Barry both joined their grandfather on rides.

Until several weeks ago, Mike was riding his regular route from north of  the Metro Toronto Zoo to Annina’s Bakeshop in Goodwood, Ontario. As always, he ordered tea and an Eccles cake.

A funeral will take place at Rosedale United Church, Saturday January 5 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in his memory to the World Bicycle Relief  http://worldbicyclerelief.org.

Showing 13 comments
  • Steven Maasland
    Reply

    I am at a loss for words, I have lost a mentor, a friend and at times a substitute father. Mike came into my life in 1981 and never left. He was a constant source of inspiration and information. His quiet demeanor and positive outlook were things to emulate and admire. My relationship with him had been very one-sided for so many years, that when he finally asked me for help, I was overjoyed to be able to finally return a favour.

    I will selfishly miss Mike, but I know that his legacy is strong in Clare, Michael, Dede and the boys. Even if Cranfield Road will not quite be the same, I will still include it whenever I come to Toronto.

    • dede
      dede
      Reply

      Thank you Steve.

  • Wayne Bingham
    Reply

    I was so very sad to hear of Mike’s passing just several days ago. We have now lost yet another preeminent figure in our bicycle community. I first met Mike at one of the Cirque du Cyclisme events, and would continue to see him at other bicycle related events as we traveled in the same circles over the years. One of my fondest memories is standing in Peter Weigle’s driveway at Peter’s French Fender Day gathering in 2015 when a van pulled into the drive and Mike stepped out. His visit was unexpected and unannounced, typical of Mike’s humble and unassuming character. Mike was truly one of the grand gentlemen of bicycling, and he will be sorely missed.

    • dede
      dede
      Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Wayne.

  • John Barry
    Reply

    I only met Mike once. I was visiting a friend, Brian Frank, in Toronto, and he brought me by the shop on a day when it was officially closed. This was soon after Michael’s book, Inside the Postal Bus, had been published, so clearly, several years have passed. Despite being closed, Mike was there, and he greeted us graciously and showed us all around the shop – clearly for my benefit, as Brian had been there more than a few times. We chatted about our shared interest in older, steel bicycles and some new events for about 45 minutes. Before we left, I purchased a copy of Michael’s book and he good naturedly asked me where I got my name. It was a short, but fondly recalled interaction.

    Mike was clearly a very talented artisan who had been pursuing his passion as his livelihood. He was a kind-hearted gentleman who made quite an impression on me. When I learned of his passing a few evenings ago, my heart grew heavy and I just shut down for the night from the bad news, I extend my condolences to his surviving family, and to his close friends. Certainly, he will be missed tremendously, and I hope they can find some measure of peace in their grieving.

  • Robin Barfoot
    Reply

    The death of Mike came as a great shock. There is a bunch of us in Canada who knew Mike from our school days in England. Roughly once a year we would meet up in Toronto for a beer & curry evening and hash over some of the more bizarre events of our school days. The school was Raynes Park County Grammar School located on the edge of Wimbledon where Mike was born. As an institution, it was probably closer to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School than a Canadian High School, and although Mike was one year ahead of us (a big thing at that age), we all got on well when we met and always had lots to talk about. I am not sure if Mike had fond memories of his time at Raynes Park; it seems that most of us were pretty happy to leave that venerable place..

    As one of our group said in an email on hearing of Mike’s death, “He was a special human being, humble, successful and modest”. That individual, John Thresher of Toronto, knew Mike because of their shared interest in running and cycling at school. Another Raynes Park Old Boy (RPOB), David Weston of Alliston was similarly connected to Mike. Personally, and I may be speaking for the rest of us, I did not have the running and cycling connection with Mike but just knew him as a RPOB living here in Canada.

    The others who did the sporadic beer & curry night were myself, Robin Barfoot of Toronto, Doug Pollard of Victoria, BC (when in town), and Keith Whitmee of Niagara-on-the-Lake (when in town). We will all miss Mike and I am sure I speak for all of us in offering our condolences to his wife and family.

  • Reply

    It is an unfortunate aspect of school life that one seldom gets to know students at levels other than one’s own. And so it was for me. In my seven years at Raynes Park County Grammar School for Boys near Wimbledon, Mike and I remained unknown to each other for six decades or so. But at one of my rare outings with a few RP contemporaries to a pub in Toronto, here was Mike. How could our school have produced such a genteel and interesting individual? We talked as if we had known each other for years, connecting perhaps through my Claud Butler five-speed. It will be to my everlasting regret that I did not get to know Mike sooner.

  • Chris Reid / Catherine Nethersole
    Reply

    VERY sorry sorry to hear, and we found out too late to have gone to the funeral…we always enjoyed Mike and Clare when occasionally meeting them having dinner at the Granite….very few like him around and he will be seriously missed…we are feeling very sad….Chris and Catherine.

  • Peter Jackson
    Reply

    Very sorry to hear about Mike’s passing. I was born in Wimbledon in the same year as Mike but slightly earlier. I first knew Mike when I joined the Redmon CC based in Morden, Surrey in 1954. At the time he was their 25 mile record holder. In 1958, Mike along with several others, myself included formed our present club Morden CRC because we were more interested in Road Racing. In 1962 I travelled on the back of Mike’s Vespa (No helmets in those days!) all the way to Salo in Italy to watch the World Road Championships. Quite an adventure. I was quite sorry to see him go when he emigrated to Canada. I have only seen Mike once since then when he came back to England to meet up with some of his old Morden colleagues. Please accept my condolences for your loss and I am sure he will be greatly missed. Kindest regards from Peter Jackson.

  • Peter Jackson
    Reply

    Very sorry to hear about Mike’s passing. I was born in Wimbledon slightly earlier in the same year as Mike. I first knew Mike when I joined the Redmon CC based in Morden, Surrey in 1954. Mike was their 25 mile record holder. In 1958 Mike and several others including myself formed the Morden CRC because we were more interested in Road Racing. That year I also worked at the same place of employment as Mike on his recommendation. In 1962 I travelled on the back of Mike’s Vespa (No helmets in those days!) all the way to Salo in Italy to watch the World Road Championships. Quite an adventure. Those were the days. I was sorry to see him go when he emigrated to Canada in 1965. I have only seen him once since then when he visited England to meet up with some of his old Morden colleagues. He seems to have made many friends and a great success of his time in Canada. Please accept my condolences for your loss and I am sure he will be greatly missed. Kindest Regards from Peter Jackson.

  • Geoff Bougourd
    Reply

    Very sad to hear about Mike Barry’s passing.
    The last time I saw him was a few years ago at Paris-Roubaix, which his son Michael was riding for Sky.
    Back in the early 60′, we met many times in road races, I was in the Thames Velo, Mike was in the Redmon C.C.

    My sincere condolences,

    Geoff Bougourd – Hampstead, London.

  • Robert Murray
    Reply

    Mike was a great friend to many of us and feel very sad that he is no longer with us. Mike and I went back forty years or so when he and Mike Brown ran Bicyclesport.
    Recently we would meet for lunch at the Granite Brewery where we would both enjoy crab cakes and our favourite brew. His being Peculiar and mine being Best Bitter.
    We both grew up in the London area and had lots to discuss about the WW2 era, Mike was one year older than me and had a more detailed memory.
    He helped me restore an old ’50’s racing bike and I used to re-create decals for many old machines that he was restoring as Graphic Design was my expertise.
    I made the mistake once of joining Mike on the Zoo Ride. it wasn’t long before they all disappeared over the horizon. Mike being a very kind and gentle soul, returned to check on me before he sprinted back to the group.
    The last contact I had with Mike was a phone call to apologize for not being able to attend my wife’s memorial due to a health problem that kept him in hospital.
    My condolences to Clair and the Barry family, Robert Murray

  • Tammy Thorne
    Reply

    My deepest condolences to the Barry family. Mike was an incredible person who was very generous of spirit. I still get choked up when I think about how he helped us get the Greg Curnoe artwork on the cover of issue 2 of dandyhorse. It was truly like having royalty at our launch party for issue 2 when he and Clair arrived and the cameras started snapping. He lent us expertise and beautiful bicycles over the years we produced the magazine and his support meant the world to us dandies. It was an honour to be able to feature him and Clair (and the words of Mike Jr.) in the magazine. I can’t say more about what a generous spirit he was. Thank you Mike Barry.

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