Rocky Weinstein stands beaming by a 1939 BSA Gold Star, an entry in the Show & Shine competition. Officials walk around with clipboards and look studiously at the rare motorcycle.
“Six weeks ago it was in a box,” he tells me. “Look at it now.” Weinstein took it upon himself to restore his father’s motorcycle.
Ralph Weinstein, Rocky’s father, died four years ago. He was a member of the Royal City Rockets in New Westminster, British Columbia, and bought the motorcycle new. It was one of only three Gold Stars brought into Canada by Fred Deeley. This year’s Classic & Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet and Show & Shine is something of a tribute to Deeley’s influence on motorcycling in British Columbia, and across Canada.
This year (2017) marks the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson in Canada. In 1917, on Vancouver’s Granville Street, “Fred Deeley—The Cycle Man” branched out from selling bicycles and began importing motorcycles, becoming Canada’s first Harley-Davidson dealer. The 1917 H-D Model 17-F, displayed at the entrance to the event’s cavernous venue, is a timely featured motorcycle. Joe Drociuk painstakingly restored the Renault Gray, 1,000cc four-stroke V-twin, and it stands as a motorcycling connection between the United States and Canada.
Walking past the featured bike, the Cloverdale Agriplex in Surrey, British Columbia, stretches out with vendor tables for a hundred meters. Motorcycles, parts, helmets and paraphernalia are scattered across them. This is my third year with a table, where I’m selling my books. It’s the 31st year for the event organized by the Copan family: Todd, Barbara and their son Mack.
I just manage to catch a photograph with Todd and Barbara Copan before they go back to busily selling T-shirts and answering visitor questions by the main entrance. When there’s a quiet moment, I ask their son Mack about putting together the event. He tells me it occupies most of the Copans’ time from January to April. It’s a labor of love, one that Copan says couldn’t be done without volunteers from the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club, Gospel Riders and the British Motorcycle Owners Club. He also makes a point of promoting a similar event just across the border the same weekend: the annual Washington Vintage Motorcyclists Swap Meet & Bike Show.
“There’s always an emotional connection to that first bike,” Mack Copan observes, looking over the expanse of the vendor space. “The Show & Shine component of the show is the nostalgic part of the event.”
But Copan says most of their audience is “hard-part related,” indicating that the majority of vendors are selling parts. Across from my table is Vancouver Island-based R.E. Cycle, featuring Harley-Davidson parts scattered across three tables. Not long ago I saw someone from the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club table score a deal on a backrest for his Road King.
Although nostalgia is a part of the event, Copan is finding that there is an expanding motorcycle culture in Surrey, one fueled by Millennials.
“There’s a newer demographic that we’re seeing here today that we’re reaching out to,” Copan says.
Hooligans British Cycles traveled all the way from Airdrie, Alberta, to be at the event. Its youthful owner, Mike Jones, has diligently set up his table with a neat and tidy display of vintage British bike parts and reprinted copies of Bernie Nicholson’s “Modern Motorcycle Mechanics.” Here, everything old is new again.
Speaking of renewal, as I made my way to the Show & Shine I passed by the Vancouver Flat Track Club. In 2015, the club started hosting races at Pemberton Speedway north of Whistler, British Columbia. Since then the sport has seen a resurgence in the province, one bolstered by the youthful faces laughing at the VFTC table.
Later, a 1926 148cc Paragon-Villiers displayed before me runs but needs restoration work. A BSA Golden Flash is a bit more spruced up. Inside a second building, a 1989 588cc Norton “Classic” and a 1978 1,000cc Harley-Davidson XLCR are standouts.
My eyes are drawn toward the back of the room, where there is a heavily modified 250cc Yamaha pulling a cylindrical fiberglass trailer. This is the “World Touring Special” of Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Philip Funnel. He has ridden through all of Canada’s provinces, the 48 contiguous U.S. states and more than 60 countries across the globe on a variety of motorcycles, including the one on display.
I return to the beaming Rocky Weinstein, who is chatting excitedly with visitors admiring his father’s treasured 1939 BSA Gold Star. If this year’s Classic & Vintage Swap Meet and Show & Shine is a nod at the old and new, and motorcycling ties between Canada and the United States, it can be described in the pride I see in Weinstein’s eyes in having restored his dad’s bike.