Canada Bike an exercise in patriotism

Matt Gardner
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The leadup to Canada Day is an ideal time to reflect on the history and culture that have come to define the Great White North.

For attendees at the 80th anniversary celebrations of the Prince Albert Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans (ANAVETS), which took place on the three days before July 1, a visual expression of those cultural touchstones took the form of the heralded “Canada Bike.”

Built by ANAVETS Unit 222 member Marcel Trudel and his wife Jackie, the Canada Bike could be seen on display on Sunday at the local ANAVETS club.

“They’re celebrating 80 years of being here, the ANAVETS -- and of course it’s Canada Day weekend, and so we like to bring it to those types of functions,” Marcel Trudel said.

“I thought it was fitting, complementing what they’re doing here.”

Residents of Albertville, Trudel and his wife painstakingly constructed the bike -- which the former described as a “labour of love” -- at their home over a period of two years.

“I’ve been riding bikes pretty well all my life, so I got the inspiration from watching the Orange County choppers on TV and all these bike-builders across the country and especially down in the U.S.,” Trudel said.

“I said, ‘Well, geez, I can do that’ -- so me and the wife decided, ‘Well, maybe we should build one too.”

Buying a motorcycle, Trudel first removed the engine before ordering a new frame for it.

From there, he added a myriad of iconic Canadian imagery on everything from the fenders to the handlebars to the gas tank, designed to represent all aspects of the Canadian experience.

A sign by the bike challenged viewers to identify the 18 different Canada Bike icons, many of which are repeated multiple times.

Among the patriotic iconography on the bike is the Canadian coat of arms, Canada geese, Stanley Cups on either side of the buffalo hide seat, symbols for Canadian Tire and the RCMP, a Pacific coast killer whale tail, beavertails, CP rail spikes and 25 instances of the maple leaf.

I want to bring it to Ottawa in 2017, our 150th anniversary of Canada. Marcel Trudel

Much of the iconography is integrated in a functional manner, such as a First Nations arrowhead that serves as a kickstand.

“People from different backgrounds look at it because they’re getting that Canadian imagery out of it and everybody gets the different feel for it,” Trudel said.

“I’ve had military people go up to it and just sit, cross their arms and some of them are sobbing because it brings back something … It pulls emotions out of different people.”

Trudel recalled another such instance when he walked up to a man staring at the bike and asked him whether he had found the CN Rail cattle catcher.

“He says, ‘Yeah, that was the first thing I noticed. I worked for CN for 35 years.’”

Comments by Holly Chow, manager of the local ANAVETS club, underscored the breadth of national imagery.

“Everything that Canada’s about is on this bike,” Chow said.

Thus far, the Canada Bike has only been driven seven kilometres, the distance Trudel ran it as part of a feature story for a biker magazine.

Having had Premier Brad Wall sign the back of the Canada Bike, the owner now has even bigger ambitions for his next autograph.

“I want to bring it to Ottawa in 2017, our 150th anniversary of Canada … just trying to set the stage so that the prime minister will actually autograph it,” Trudel said.

“There’s lots of prep work to do before you can get that done,” he added. “That took me about two years to get that (autograph from the premier) set up … So that’s my ultimate goal.”

Organizations: Canada Bike, Prince Albert Army, Canadian Tire RCMP First Nations CN Rail

Geographic location: Canada, Albertville, Orange County U.S. Pacific

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