Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Doc Morton

William ‘Doc' Morton played a large part in Canadian cycling history but very little is known about him these days.

Morton won a bronze medal in the 1908 Olympic Team Pursuit. It has been reported that he competed in the 1901 "Pan American Championships" but I cannot find any reference to such an event. There was a Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo New York that year. Possibly there was a bike race but i cannot find any confirmation of it..

Later in the twenties he opened a bike shop in the West End of Toronto. I understood that the shop was on Dundas West but I have recently read that it was called Lakeshore Cycles which doesn’t make sense if it was on Dundas. I’m pretty sure that he had nothing to do with the Lakeshore Cycles in Mimico.

He built frames which were in great demand by the top riders of the day. In those days the only race bikes were what we would now call track bikes, as fixed wheel was used both on road and track.

I also understand that Morton had a velodrome built in Toronto's Christie Pits.

Some years ago I was given a couple of Doc Morton bikes from an ex racer who competed in the thirties. One was a bike that he had purchased in the late twenties He later fitted a very early Simplex derailleur to it. . The other was a tandem that Doc Morton had built for a Canadian pair to ride the 1932 Olympics. However it never made it to the Games.

Morton also made large flange hubs which were machined from aluminum This was quite a development in those days, when most hubs were made of steel.

Just recently Walter Lai took the following terrific photos of the Doc Morton bike fitted with the three speed Simplex.

If anyone has any more history on Doc Morton I would be very pleased to hear it.

c1928 Doc Morton fitted with a Simplex derailleur and Resilion brake.

The early Simplex derailleur. The tension arm is mounted beneath the bottom bracket and a derailling fork is mounted under the chainstay. This derailleur is very similar to the Super Champion Osgear of the same period.

Early indexing.

CCM cotterless cranks. The very best there were for many years

Resilion Cantilever brake. This was state of the art in the thirties.

Close-up of the brake. It is operated by a complicated "Y" cable.

The Resilion brake lever wasn't the most comfortable to operate from 'the tops'.

It looks as if Morton used CCM lugs and fork crown.

Of course a Brooks saddle was a 'must'.

All of the above photos were taken by Walter Lai.


AH said...

Hi Mike,

As you probably know, Greg Curnoe has a painting called "Doc Morton Bicycle Wheel." The wheel in the painting definitely looks like it has those high-flange aluminum hubs! You can see it here.

Do you know the story behind the painting? Did Greg get the wheel from you?

Bicycle Specialties said...

Greg didn't get the wheel from me. I know that he was very interested in Canadian cycling history and Canadian made bikes and components. He was very proud to own that wheel with the Doc Morton hub.

ruben said...

That is absolutely beautiful Mike.
I am sometimes flabbergasted to see innovative period CCM pieces such as the crankset.
Could you tell me the details of the tires and rims as fitted?

Matt Surch said...

That fork looks gorgeous. Crowns like that amaze me; they are so minimal!

Anonymous said...


Good to see a very rare machine exhibiting incredible "Canadian" provenance. Thanks for posting.

Personally I am readying a small space (600 sq ft initially) in a heritage building on the main street of Fenelon Falls to become an interesting cycling museum. The renovation of the 2nd floor location is above a coffee house called "Sweet Bottoms" which we acquired in June 2010.

Drop in if you get a chance
Wayne Jolly

Mike Barry said...

The rims are steel 26x11/4" Endricks and the tires are rather heavy Canadian Dunlops. I can only assume that these are training wheels which would be swapped for something lighter to race on.
The fork crown is a CCM cast crown which fits inside the fork blades. It looks as if it may be a standard CCM fork.

Mountain Bike Helmets said...

This is one beautiful bicycle. Canadian cycling history seems to be pretty inteeresting. I hope you learn more stuff about Doc Morton. Good luck!

Brucer said...

Amazing bike, Mike. Looks as if it would ride as well as a lot of bikes on the road today. I'm curious about the bar tape and seat post. Not much room to manoeuvre.

Maybe a trip to Fenelon Falls is in order, too.

Unknown said...

Doc Morton was my maternal grandmother's brother and I am delighted to learn so much about his bicycling life from you and Vintage CCM! I had never realized that he coached two Olympic teams. His son, also William Morton was an early manufacturer of hearing aid molds and also later contact lenses. Doc's granddaughter who now lives in Puerta Vallerta, Mexico says her dad even made hearing aid molds for their dog! Quite the inventive family.

Carol's (Doc's granddaughter) mom ran a yarn shop in Mimico.

I live in the Buffalo, NY area, but do lots of family history on and will post any other photos or info I find there.

Thanks again for bringing Doc to life for me and my son and grandson, who are into mountain bike racing and bike repair.
Sheila Vrenna (