The last word for 2016

We’re at the end of our 20 Years of CMG now. It’s been both fun and an education to look back at the last two decades of stories and republish one from every year of our online existence.

You can read them all under the 20 Years banner in the Features menu above or — the beauty of online — just go back and search under old dates and see what comes up. That’s what we did in choosing what to republish, and there’s a lot more to be found in the archives. Almost 8,000 stories in fact; some long, some short, but every one with its own unique CMG twist.

This has been a tough year at Canada Moto Guide since founding editor Rob Harris was killed in May.  We’ve mourned him every day since, and remembered him in articles and comments that will join those many other stories in the archives. A small collection of them will remain in the Menu banner above. Rob was an intrinsic part of CMG — no, he was CMG —and none of us were quite sure if the magazine could, or even should, continue on without him. The last seven months have been a learning experience for all of us.

But it’s time now to move on. We’ve needed to look back at ourselves this year to properly evaluate everything about Canada Moto Guide and to determine a direction for the future.  We’re grateful that you, the reader, never left us. Our online circulation is up and the magazine is stronger than ever. We have new contributors to join the existing staff and, in the spring, we’ll have a shiny new look to the website. We’re really looking forward to this rebirth, but don’t worry — CMG’s values won’t change. We’ll always be honest, informative and entertaining, as we’ve been for the last two decades.

As reader Ivan once wrote, the appeal of CMG is “probably because it’s written like your best buddy just got his hands on a bike. Excited to tell you all about the trick bits, willing to make fun of the bike or himself, or you, and just likes bikes. All bikes and what the life of a rider, wrencher, admirer of things shiny and dirty is, a bunch of people who work all week and live for the unwinding of a bit of road.”

The last word for this year, however, goes to Editor ‘Arris. His column below was written in June 2015, and it describes his hope for the future. It’s as relevant today as it was then. He didn’t live to see it through, but CMG’s future is strong and flourishing, and it’s only going to get better.  — Ed.

This photo by Zac Kurylyk. Title photo and end photo by Richard Seck.

CMG is 19 this month!

By Editor ‘Arris

It’s hard to get my head around 19 years of CMG. But here we are. I do not know the exact day in June that CMG came into existence, so we could celebrate all month long I guess, but I’ll take today as it’s also the day that marks 10 years since I met my life partner and ultimately settled down. Yes, June 2015 is a momentous month.

The reason I know its birthday is June 1996 is because I have a box of all the old print-only Ontario Motorcycle Guide issues ever produced in the corner of my office. In it is a copy of Issue 4, Volume 3, dated Jul/Aug 1996, and on the inside cover it states that “we are now on the net (sort of). Check out the CMG web page at” Since OMG would have been put together the month before, that puts the website’s birthday as June 1996 — nineteen years ago.

Anyone who has a good amount of adult years under their (expanding) belt will know that 19 years is effectively a lifetime away. I look back at the old issues of OMG (which eventually died off at the end of 1998) with some detached amusement. It’s a glimpse into my previous life, when I was still in my 20s (just), still married (just), and still indestructible (ish).

The evidence – issue 4, volume 3 of the Ontario Motorcycle Guide.

They were good times, but like all memories they are somewhat rose-tinted and I have often pondered that they may contain some of my best writing, the kind that flows with the enthusiasm and gall of youth.

True, we had some great adventures that can only spawn from a young and foolish mind, but there’s plenty that is cringe-worthy too. Still, I have a lot of respect for that 20- something who turned his back on England, got on a plane to Canada, secured a job as a mechanic at a Toronto shop (thanks Ralph and T.O. Cycle) and then started the Toronto Motorcycle Guide just because he wanted to push himself further.

It was a journey of ignorance and perseverance (still is, in some respects). The highs of getting offered my first bikes to test, and the lows of calling a manufacturer Monday morning to let them know that their bike had just been written off at Mosport.

Then there are the people who offered up so much of their free time to help with my venture: the late nights smuggled into Nortel offices on University St. in downtown Toronto to use their computers and scanners (thanks Wilfred), or the young kid who stopped by the OMG booth at a show to offer to get us onto the internet — at no charge — and is still helping to this day (Pat, you are a star).

This is the oldest screenshot there is of the CMG homepage. It’s from December 1998, but it would have been pretty similar to how the original ’96 site would have looked.

OMG wouldn’t have made it and turned into CMG without people like Wayne ‘Sonic’ Mallows; I spent plenty of time in his Ajax garage cursing demonic old bikes he was trying to resurrect. Then there were the wild rides with the smart and talented Piero Zambotti, whose sole drive was to be a great motorcycle journalist, a quest that ultimately led to his heart-wrenching death. There were faithful friends and workhorses such as Tony Lee and unlikely acquaintances from the biker world like Thom ‘Shovel’ Arnold.

The characters I’ve met on this journey have been a treat.

Yes, they were great times, but they were a different life. So much has changed, not just with me — I’m a dad, and my pace has slowed accordingly — but with the magazine I now produce.

CMG was a bold progression from the world of print to that of the internet. But it worked, and it has become the defining element of my life. One which saw me trained to be a mechanical engineer in England but swept me to be a motorcycle magazine publisher and editor in Canada.

It is a magazine that is now published in a third-floor office in Sackville, New Brunswick – a far cry from the frantic life of downtown Toronto and Montreal. It is a magazine that employs not just me but my life partner and a whole host of talented helpers and contributors. It defines who I am and it archives who I have been. It has conceived the bizarre Mad Bastard Scooter Rally and the adventurous Fundy Adventure Rally. It has been built around the base need to be truthful and informative, despite the financial and growth hits that inevitably come with that path. In short, it has given me, and continues to give me, a rich life.

To all of you who have been a part of this journey — both behind the curtain and in the audience — I raise a virtual glass and thank you for your support, faith, and in many cases, endurance, on this long ride. Cheers.

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