A Brief History of GWRRA in Canada
By Gordon Murphy – Life Member 056265
We all know that the Gold Wing Road Riders Association was formed in 1977 in Phoenix, AZ by Paul and Shirley (now Stephens-Garcia) Hildebrand in Phoenix, AZ as a social organization of Gold Wing riders to promote “Friends for Fun, Safety, and knowledge.”
Information on the introduction of GWRRA in Canada in the early years is unfortunately rather scanty but Henri and Jane Van Gemert, Regional Historians from Region “K”, have done some research and determined that a Chapter had been formed in Wallaceburg, ON in 1981. Recent information provided to me indicates that a Chapter was also formed in Calgary, AB in September 1981 by Bob Denton (CD) and Bruce Buckley (A-CD). Arnie Tucker, District Director in British Columbia, also has done some research and he discovered that the first GWRRA Chapter in Canada was in fact “kicked-off” in Vancouver, BC in March 1980, a scant three years after the inauspicious beginnings of the organization in Phoenix. That Chapter – BC-A – continues to flourish in the Vancouver area today. From those beginnings in 1980, GWRRA continued to grow throughout various areas of the country and in 1983 the whole of Canada was called Region “K”, with a Robert Denton from Ontario as the first Regional Director
By 1984 GWRRA had continued to expand in Canada and western Canada became a new Region designated as Region “K”. Ontario then became Region “O” with Bernard Dewitt as Regional Director. Mr. DeWitt remained as Regional Director for Region “O” until George Tozer of Oshawa, ON was appointed to the position at the beginning of 1987.
Some other things happened in 1987, as well. GWRRA became an incorporated organization in Canada – GWRRA Canada, Inc. – and Bloyce Coles of Calgary, AB was appointed Canadian National Director. Co-incident with this appointment and the incorporation of GWRRA in this country, the western portion of the country, including Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia) became Region “A”. (In the mid-1990’s, Alaska was also added to this Region, making it truly international.) Central Canada, including Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, became Region “B”.
GWRRA also expanded right across Canada in 1987, as well, when the Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) became the new Region “C” with David Griffiths from Shearwater, NS appointed as Regional Director.
GWRRA was now truly an across-North America organization and continued to grow across Canada with an appreciable growth in membership and the successive appointment of Regional Directors (see list at the end of this article), District Directors and Chapter Directors. Chapters continued to be “kicked off” throughout the country and members got an opportunity to attend a variety of Gold Wing gatherings, variously called “Wing Whirls” or “Wing Flings.”
The first recorded large GWRRA Wing gathering was held from June 14 – 16, 1985 in Trenton, ON. In 1990 one of the largest and most successful motorcycle gatherings ever held in Canada, the 1990 Wing Fling, was held in Halifax, NS with over 2000 delegates from across Canada and the United States, including from GWRRA’s Home Office in Phoenix, AZ. Very successful Wing Flings were also held in 1992 in Peterborough, ON and in Moncton, NB in 1993. Regional Rallies continue to be held in various areas of the country to this day, providing an opportunity for members to visit other areas of the country to enjoy a time with “Friends for Fun, Safety, and Knowledge.”
In addition to the very important interactive social value of GWRRA, the organization also sponsors a widely recognized Rider Education Program, which encourages members to engage in safe riding practices. An extension of this program is the availability of a variety of seminars on a variety of helpful topics and, since 2003, members have had an opportunity to participate in an on,bike skills enhancement / training course called the Advanced Rider Course (ARC).
We believe it is reasonable to say that GWRRA has been very beneficial to participating members across Canada since it’s beginning in 1981.
The aforementioned information has been gathered from the only sources available at my disposal when this was written. Should anyone have additional information that might be helpful or if anything shown here is incorrect, please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address shown here. firstname.lastname@example.org
Use this link to view A List of Regional Directors – Canada (Opens in a new window)