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Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group

L'Association Canadienne de Motos Anciennes


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Derek Browne

  • 08 Mar 2022 2:05 PM
    Message # 12648932
    Daniel (Administrator)

    It is with heavy heart that I share the passing of my friend and long time CVMG member, Derek Browne. Derek’s history in the world of Canadian Motorcycling goes back to his early teens when he would tell you he learned to ride fast by taking the corners at speed, only to slow down until he stopped coming off in those curves!

    Derek belonged to so many clubs and organizations and joined the CVMG in the early years. A long time member of the Old Fort York section, he is remembered as a “colourful guy” and a “bit of a character and loved trading parts”. He always had stories to tell and was so knowledgeable in so many facets of motorcycling. His interest was extensive and included sidecars, trials, racers, motocross, hare scrambles, hill climbing, ice racing and a passion for vintage machines. Derek never questioned what you rode but was always excited to talk with you because you rode.

    Derek co-owned a shop in the east end of Toronto, owned Brown’s Cycle on Bloor Street in Toronto and later Toffee Motors in Mimico. Many a rider in the Toronto area got a start on one of Derek’s bikes. He didn’t just sell them he loved them and made sure his customers got what was the right machine for their type of riding. His interest in safe motorcycling started early – LOL, maybe it was that falling off those corners that got him hooked on safety!

    Early in his career, Derek represented Canada in 1966 at the International Six day event; he has raced with the likes of Mike Duff, was an active trials rider and actively supported the Corduroy Enduro in Ontario as well as many CVMG trials and was always present at our National Rallies.

    Ever trying to improve the performance of his machines, Derek talked Lang Hindle into producing some “Hindle racing pipes” for his Goldwing and was often spotted at the Sport Bike Rally in Parry Sound, riding that wing. I recall he won both the “Smoking Toe” award for riding the wing like a dirt bike and for the “Old Geezer” award for “smoking” past some sport bike riders on a twisty road!

    For those who knew Derek, I’m sure you have a story to tell, for those who didn’t – well you sure missed out on an amazing ambassador for the CVMG.

    RIP Derek

    1966 – doing what Derek loved, riding in the mud!

    2 files
    Last modified: 08 Mar 2022 2:37 PM | Daniel (Administrator)
  • 15 Mar 2022 2:33 PM
    Reply # 12665026 on 12648932
    Daniel (Administrator)

    FORWARDED: From Paul and Marie Whittaker

    Derick shop, Derick and the other two passengers on the trip to Daytona.


    2 files
    Last modified: 16 Mar 2022 10:38 AM | Daniel (Administrator)
  • 22 May 2022 1:56 PM
    Reply # 12789708 on 12648932
    Betty (Administrator)

    I received the following from Bo Frank Gevaert with his memories of Derek.  I'm learning so much more about my friend -Thanks Bo,

    I read your nice Derek Browne Last Ride on p. 11 of the CVMG News of April 2022, and learned a few more background items there--I do see he finished 2nd on a Honda 90 in the 1965 Corduroy Enduro 100 cc class, and he provided the Sidecar Trophy in 1964 and 1966, and maybe others----I remember going to his little shop "Toronto Honda-Ducati Centre" around 1966, and saw his "Daytona" Triumph Tiger Cub---; I thought his little shop was on Bloor West, but my issues of Nov '67 and Aug '68 of "Canadian Motorcycling", our CMA mags, both locate it at 3359 Lakeshore Blvd. W.

    Per my issue of Can Motorcycling, Aug '65, however, inside back cover, BINGO--the address IS 1572 Bloor St. W.---  So my memory is right!----except the shop address is 1257 College St in the Dec. '65 issue---oops, p. 9 explains this as "New temporary winter address", but with the same phone # LE 4-5135.

    On p 22 of the Dec. '65 issue, Derek is listed as the 100cc class winner of the 1965  Ontario ChampionshipTerra Nova Enduro, and on p 6, July/65 issue he is listed as the 100cc winner at the quite difficult Welland Massassauga Enduro.

    He is also mentioned on p. 37, Aug./65 issue re the Georgetown scramble at Acton on June? 12th, fighting fiercely with Freddy Pistone on the Honda, so this must have been the 100cc race.

    He is mentioned on p. 30 Aug./65 issue as "Leading the dealer's (CMA) membership contest this month are Toronto Honda-Ducati Centre, Brown's Cycle & Sports, and Firth Motorcycles in Toronto and Jakes Cycle in Peterborough", and 1st again on p. 12 of the July/65 issue.

    On p. 10 of the Jan/65 issue he was elected Secretary of the CMA Executive for 1965, per Minutes of the CMA National Executive Meeting, Nov. 21/64.

    I always chuckled at his Want Adds---p. 7, Feb/65 "WANTED/Late model Norton, good frame and wheels.  Engine not important.  Many cash dollars available.", and p. 20, Jan/65 "WANTED  Featherbed frame Manx Nortons and just frames or good engine, gearboxes, wheels.  Many cash dollars available.  Please state price required. All letters answered."   He also used to have  similar references to having pried open his wallet in later adds.

    p. 9, Feb '65, he finished 15th on a Matchless 499 out of 22 finishers, in the National Championship Trial, Nov. 22/64, BEMC, River Valley Park. I guess riders are not identified as Jr or Ex, since it is the Nat. Championship? 

    That Aug '68 issue, p. 29, Lloyd's Ranch event by Guelph, June 23/68, middle photo shows Derek Browne (#14, 250 Jr, Yam) leading at the start of the all-comers race, with me right behind him (#168, 250 Sr, 1966 Bultaco). Note that the all-comers event (also known as Grand Prix or Grand Finale) was always the final race of the day, for all those who were not too pooped for maybe another 15 or 20 lap race, all classes and sizes together, but flagged off in successive waves, per their bike size and expertise, slowest first---

    I have a copy of the official results of that race---Grand Finale, 20 laps, 31 starters, 19 finishers---I finished 10th, Derek 18th---

    I finished poorly that day in my heats, because I was black flagged at the start of practice for a flat rear tyre, and spent the rest of the allowed practice time repairing that---I improved in my final finish, having by then learned the course and come to grips with it--my annoyance at my poor finish caused me to be determined to race the Grand Finale, which I was usually too pooped to do--- 

    The entry list for the July 2/66 International Canadian Grand Prix shows him entered in the 500cc and Unlimited Class as #114 D. Browne, Islington, Ont, Harley 883; the results show me finishing 5th, him 6th, on 80 Suzuki, in the 5 lap heat 5 ultra-lightweight & Jr. 250, even though he is not in the Entry list in that class.

    He finished 19th on the Harley in the 5 lap heat 8, for 500cc Juniors & Unlimited; but he beat me, him in 11th position, me in 12th, in the 10 lap Lightweight Consolation race, 19 finishers.

  • 23 May 2022 11:43 AM
    Reply # 12790617 on 12648932
    Betty (Administrator)

    Just a great guy!...met him first at Nortown MC.  Rode some trials on my AJ with him. Never did as well as Derek though.  Lol



  • 05 Jun 2022 1:34 PM
    Reply # 12806535 on 12648932
    Daniel (Administrator)

    Memories of Derek

    Lefty Shaw

    I was certainly saddened to learn of the passing of my long-time friend, Derek Browne.

    My friendship with Derek goes back to the late 40s/early 50s when we were “strapping young bucks”. Derek lived on Baywood Drive, which ran east off Kipling Avenue north of Burnhamthorpe Road and I lived on Royalavon Crescent, which ran south off Burnhamthorpe Road east of Kipling Avenue in Islington, Ontario.

    At that time, Islington was a nice quiet village, ten miles west of West Toronto, and vastly different from the traffic infested urban sprawl of today. Derek and I met in “Echo Valley” as we called it. Echo Valley was a large piece of natural land, north of Burnhamthorpe Road and west of Kipling Avenue. This piece of property was owned by Mr. Corson - a stern old “swain”, but quite affable once you got to know him, and respect his property. There were several ponds on the property, and Derek and I would collect polywogs (tadpoles), take them home and keep them until they became frogs, then take them back and return them to their pond.

    When he became interested in motorcycles, Derek rented a garage on Kipling Avenue, where he kept and worked on his Frances Barnett.

    Later - the year is obscure - he got a job on the C.N.R. as a welder’s helper. He was stationed at Madoc Junction, Ontario, and he rode his Frances Barnett there - home on Friday night and back to the junction on Sunday night. I can remember him, one winter Sunday evening, riding east on Bywood Drive on his way to Madoc Junction, the tail light winking in the snowy darkness. Such was Derek’s stamina. One Sunday it was exceptionally cold, so I drove him and his bike to Madoc Junction in my Morris Ten. The trunk lid was hinged at the bottom so we opened it and strapped the F.B. onto the lid. The Morris Ten had an amazingly good heater, far better than the heaters on the later early flat-head Minors.

    Still later - about 1962 I think, Derek had a Manx Norton and he decided to race it at Daytona. He arranged for the Manx to go down with a fellow racer in his pickup truck, and Derek would ride down on his street bike, which was a Royal Enfield 700 (Meteor?). He asked me if I would like to go, and I said “sure” - young and always open for adventure.

    I was laid off the railroad spare board anyway, which happened every winter for the first six years that I worked on the C.P.R., so why not? It was early in February and very cold, so it was a necessity to put on several layers of clothing. The Enfield was kept in the Browne’s unheated garage. On the morning of our departure, Derek’s efforts to kick-start the Enfield into life were unsuccessful, so he had his mother tow him along Baywood with her car.

    Well, the bike started OK, but blew a head gasket on the right cylinder! It still ran OK, so we decided to leave anyway, running on 1-½ cylinders! Travelling west on the Queen Elizabeth Way at about 70 mph, I shouted to Derek - “Stop, there’s something wrong! My leg’s hot!” We pulled over and I checked my right leg. My right pant-leg was soaked with hot oil! It had been spewing out of the right cylinder via the blown head gasket. We found that if our speed was reduced to a maximum of 60 mph the oil didn’t spew out, so “PRESS ON REGARDLESS!”

  • 07 Jun 2022 8:56 PM
    Reply # 12809265 on 12648932

    I lived close to Derek in Islington and was a Nortown MCC fellow member. The club did Trials Scrambles and Road Races. Derrick and I where into it all. Derek and Ed Culverhouse opened Toronto Honda Ducati first on Gerrard Street  then on Bloor. I bought the first Ducati they  sold...more?

  • 07 Jun 2022 9:08 PM
    Reply # 12809281 on 12648932

    That is me on the right on the Daytona trip photo. We went first to Sebring to ride a support race to the 12 hour car event... then to the USMC Word Champ. Event at Daytona. I finished 17th in the 250 race on a 204 cc Ducati with my own frame . Allan Shepherd won. I think Derek's Tiger Cub blew a big end.

  • 07 Jun 2022 9:22 PM
    Reply # 12809283 on 12648932

    There was much more to Derek in providing for friends the way he did.. With a full house he managed a second next door with rooms for more...This just north of Queen Street in Mimico. His Toffie Cycle did repairs for all bikes often in back yards on a residential street near Islington and Lakeshore Rd.

  • 22 Nov 2023 5:35 PM
    Reply # 13282740 on 12648932

    when I first arrived in Canada from the US, Derick hired me straight away, and since I rode up on a Triton race bike with bolt on sidecar, he offered his Gold Star rig for the spring race season. In the spring he drove a car full and trailer down to Daytona so I could run the Triton there. Just a sample of Derick's generosity. The shop I worked at was called "Toronto Honda Ducati" on Bloor street I have a photo in my album.  

The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group (CVMG) is a not-for-profit organization aimed at promoting the use, restoration and interest in older motorcycles and those of historic interest.

The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group (CVMG) is a not-for-profit organization aimed at promoting the use, restoration and interest in older motorcycles and those of historic interest.

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