Born out of the world of print magazines, CMG Online was originally posted on the World Wide Web in June 1996, but its bloodline goes all the way back to January 1994, when the Toronto Motorcycle Guide magazine (TMG) first hit the stores in the Greater Toronto Area.
Subtitled “The Small Pink One” (because it was small and pink – in a poor attempt to stand out from the stereotypical mags), TMG was a collection of photocopied sheets, hand-stapled and folded in half to make a digest-sized irreverent enthusiast’s mag.
The first issue included articles about the classic Honda CB750 SOHC, a story about owning a Virago 1000 (by the soon-to-be regular contributor, Sonic) and a Buyer’s Guide on some of the more popular used bikes.
Although it had to be done in between owner Rob Harris’ real job as bike mechanic at a local motorcycle salvage shop, TMG managed to get published five times in its inaugural year, growing slowly from a circulation of about 20 … to about 40 (sigh).
Yes, it was a lot of work for no return, but ‘Arris must have gotten some sick kind of fulfillment out of the exercise, because in May of 1995 it made the leap from the Toronto Motorcycle Guide to the Ontario Motorcycle Guide (OMG). By now the circulation was up to a heady 3,000 issues, with a total of eight issues a year. Hey, the Sept/Oct issue even had our first ever test ride – a Triumph Thunderbird.
The steady climb in circulation was given a big boost in 1996, thanks to a local motorcycle-only insurance broker (Clarksons) who realized the value of sending out such a cool mag to their clients.
By the end of the year, OMG was pumping out 6,500 copies every other month. However, 1996 also saw the birth of our presence on the Internet, with articles from OMG being fed online once a week until the next issue’s content became available.
1997 saw the circulation rise to a lofty 11,000 as OMG finally became a financially sound concern thanks to Ontario advertisers. Test rides were appearing in every issue, thanks to a young Piero Zambotti (RIP) – who would go on to become Editorial Assistant at Cycle Canada.
But sadly the future of OMG was to be short-lived. In 1998, Clarksons sold their business to a larger insurance company. Although they agreed to continue distributing OMG for the year, by the end of the year, the option to renew was not taken. This meant that either the circulation would have to take a massive drop, or …
We’d make the leap from the world of print to the electronic one!
And so it was that, at the end of 1998, a decision was made to switch from the regional print format of OMG, to a purely electronic web one. OMG was shut down and CMG Online became the first Canadian web-only motorcycle e-zine.
Although this meant effectively starting again (i.e. no money and lots of work), the build was relatively quick. By the year 2000, CMG was already well established as Canada’s premier Internet-only motorcycle magazine. By 2007, we’d made the leap to also become Canada’s source for motorcycle news with our new Daily News format.
Our most recent change came at the end of 2012 when we rebuilt the site to incorporate a strong community base to it and went the whole hog and changed the name the Canada Moto Guide, while keeping the all important CMG acronym.
Our look and scope has evolved every step of the way and will continue to do so. This evolution, tempered always by our original goals – keeping motorcycle enthusiasts informed and entertained, and telling it as we see it – has made CMG the most popular online motorcycle magazine in Canada.
What the future holds we don’t really know (okay, we do, but we don’t want to tell you how you’re going to die – it’s messy). However, you can be sure that we’ll keep publishing irreverent, humorous and honest articles. After all, if you don’t take pride in what you’re doing, then why are you doing it?
No need to answer that by the way.