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Sunday, 25 October 2015 00:00

Motorcycling in Canada - A Ride Through our History - Part 8

Hollister riot life magazine 1947Booze and motorcycles do not go well together and in the late 1940's there were some big divisions that took place in the motorcycle community because of the partying mentality of some.




Back in the 40's the roads were not congested as they are today and the chance of hurting someone other than yourself was pretty limited on the open roads of Canada.

Many young people embraced this rebellious type of behaviour; drinking, riding and partying.

There were many in the mainstream of motorcycling who did not appreciate those who felt the need to drink and ride or to party hard. They thought the partiers were a menace to their sport.
Hollister riot life magazine 1947Eddie Davenport of Tulare, California on a motorcycle, with August 'Gus' Deserpa standing behind and left, at 526 San Benito St, Hollister, CA, on July 4, 1947, by the San Francisco Chronicle‍ '​s photographer Barney Petersen Out of this division in attitudes, the partiers became outcasts at many functions. In 1947, they became outcasts in a larger way.

Hollister California had begun playing host to motorcycle races known as the Gypsy Tours back in the late 30's.

A small town of 4,500, these events held every July 4th, became a staple in their economy. During the war, the events had ceased.

In 1947, the revival event saw many more people show up than the town was prepared for.

Approximately 4,000 people, 750 on motorcycles descended on Hollister for the Gypsy Tour motorcycle races. The party got out of hand and although minor damage was done to the town, the media sensationalized it and the event garnered much negative commentary. 

The photo on the left appeared in Life Magazine and marked the beginning of some very bad feelings towards motorcyclists.

One of the urban myths surrounding the motorcycle community is the term 1% and where it came from. 

The AMA claims it was wrongly attributed as the coiner the term "1%" as it pertains to motorcycle clubs. They can find no record of a director stating ""the trouble was caused by the one per cent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists" and that the other ninety-nine per cent of motorcyclists are good, decent, law-abiding citizens."

No matter who coined the term or made the statement that appeared in the newspapers of the day, the term has stuck and in fact has been embraced by the 3 piece patch clubs.

Here in Canada, the Red Devils started up in Hamilton Ontario in 1948. They are officially Canada's first and oldest one percenter club. They opened chapters in Chatham and Sudbury, but always remained an independent MC. They were well known as the diplomats, meaning they partied with many, got in bed with no one and always stayed in the middle.

The Bacchus MC was founded in 1972 in Albert County, New Brunswick. In 2014, the Red Devils patched over and became Bacchus MC Ontario. This patch over made Bacchus Canada's second largest MC.

According to reports from thestar.com, another organization, also known as the Red Devils, but aligned with the Hells Angels had moved into Montreal and this precipitated the reason the original Red Devils patched over to Bacchus.

The first Quebec Biker War took place from 1968 to 1970. Montreal was a hotbed for motorcycle club politics. From 1968 to 1970, the Popeyes and the Devils Disciples were at war with each other. 

The Popeyes were Quebec's largest Motorcycle Club and carried out work for the Montreal Mafia and the Dubois Gang besides running strippers and such. It is reported that the Popeyes and the Satan's Choice were very tame in how they dealt with things compared to other clubs of the day.
ICED Page 390

In the 80's a report from the Quebec Police Commission on organized crime charged that some clubs were literally raping, pillaging and plundering:
Between the time the Red Devils started up and the Hells Angels came to Canada, many, many three piece clubs had sprung up.

The Satan's Choice played a big role in the 1%er scene in Ontario in particular.
It's in 1977 that the first Canadian Hells Angels charter was born in the province of Quebec when the local motorcycle club "The Popeyes" became the Montreal charter of the Hells Angels. In 1983 the "Satan Angels" on the west coast became the Hells Angels of British Columbia. The national club expansion continued with the admission of the "Grim Reapers" from Alberta in 1997, the "Rebels" from Saskatchewan in 1998, the "Los Bravos" from Manitoba in 2000, and the "Paradice Riders", "Satan's Choice", "Lobos", and "Last Chance" from Ontario in 2000.

The second biker war, this time between the Hells Angels & The Rock Machine, broke out in 1994 and continued until late 2002.

The Rock Machine M.C., had six Canadian chapters, one American chapter and three chapters in Australia. It was formed by Salvatore Cazzetta, a former friend of Hells Angels Quebec chapter president Maurice Boucher, in 1986.

The Rock Machine competed with the Hells Angels for the street-level drug trade in Montreal. 
The Quebec Biker war would see them fight a seven year war, that left over 160 people dead and countless injured. Heavily outnumbered, the Rock Machine became a probationary chapter of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club in January 2000.

The dynamics of the 1% Motorcycle Clubs is always evolving.
I hope you enjoyed this brief history on1% Motorcycle Clubs and their role in Canadian Motorcycle History.
Next time we will explore the invasion of Japanese motorcycles and how they affected the Canadian motorcycle landscape!

Information on some of Canada's most prominent 1% Motorcycle Clubs

  • Red Devils - Formed in 1948 (Canadian Grown)
  • Popeyes - Formed in 1951
  • Grim Reapers - Formed in 1958
  • Satan's Choice MC - Formed in1960's
  • Rebels MC - 1968
  • Devil's Disciples - 1968
  • Bacchus MC - 1972 (Canadian Grown)
  • King's Crew - 1977
  • Lucifer's Crew - 1977
  • Outlaws - Satan's Choice patches over to Outlaws MC - 1977
  • Para-dice Riders - Absorbed by the Hells Angels in 2001
  • Rock Machine - 1986 - 2000 Reformed in 2007 as Rock Machine Canada Nomads
  • Bandido's - 2000 (Rock Machine absorbed by Bandido's)

Interesting Historical Tidbits
1934 - Don Cherry is born in Kingston Ontario
1945 - Canada joins the United Nations.
1949 - Margaret Alexandra Shea, the first woman to be a professional nurse in Newfoundland dies.
1950 - Canadians invent the green garbage bag
1962 - Pincher Creek, AB experienced the fastest, largest temperature change ever recorded in Canada as a result of a Chinook. The temperature went from -19C to 22C in just one hour!
1967 - Canadian bombshell Pamela Anderson is born
1967 -  The world's first UFO Landing Pad is built in St. Paul, Alberta
1967 - Joni Mitchel releases her first album "Song to a Seagull"

1969 - Police chief Jean-Paul Gilbert forced all Quebec bikers to unite into something called the
           Motocyclists Unis de Quebec. 
1975 - Nicole Juteau becomes the 1st Police woman in the province of Quebec

Research for this article:

HAMC Southland
Hollister Rally
Bacchus MC Web Site
Iced: The Story of Organized Crime In Canada
Yves Lavigne - Hells Angels at War
The Rebels - A Brotherhood of Outlaw Bikers
Bandidos Massacre - Extended Chronology
National Post
Reader's Digest


Last modified on Thursday, 29 October 2015 07:04

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