Full throttle

Steve Bartlett
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Motorcycle enthusiast/shop owner going flat out with motorcycle museum

He says Newfoundland and Labrador has a "cool" motorcycle history, and Selwyn Rose is revving up to tell as much of it as he can.

He's about to open a museum on the upper floors of East Rider, his motorcycle accessory and apparel shop.

Selwyn Rose with his prized 1978 dual-purpose Harley-Davidson. It's one of the bikes that will be on display in his motorcycle museum. Photo by Steve Bartlett/The Telegram

He says Newfoundland and Labrador has a "cool" motorcycle history, and Selwyn Rose is revving up to tell as much of it as he can.

He's about to open a museum on the upper floors of East Rider, his motorcycle accessory and apparel shop.

"What I'm hoping people get out of it is to come in and really stir up some memories, feelings of nostalgia," Rose says. "People (will hopefully) come in and see these bikes and say, 'Ah, no way, I had that exact same bike' ... I guess it's just for people to be able to relate to it."

The bikes that will be on display for recognition range from a 1939 500cc, civilian model Norton to a 1970 Motorski Moto-skeeter. (Rose's favourite is a 1978 250cc, dual purpose Harley-Davidson.)

None were brought in from elsewhere, Rose notes. He purchased them here, and only one isn't in working condition.

The bikes will be spread throughout the museum and its displays.

Two rooms will be dedicated to the Newfoundland Rangers, which used motorcycles in their work. Some of the walls for that set-up resemble the old Rangers barracks in Whitbourne, and the artifacts there will include a sidecar bike, a Russian Dnepr. (The machine was actually used in the Mary Walsh film "Young Triffie's Been Made Away With.")

There'll also be a display emulating a '70s cycle shop and a space dedicated to California dreaming - because motorcyclists here often fantasize about what it'd be like to ride elsewhere, Rose says with a smile.

Plus, there'll be a collection of motorcycle toys, including G.I. Joe, Evel Knievel and The Fonz from the classic sitcom "Happy Days."

The museum will be coloured with old signs and advertisements, as well as things like bike apparel, gas tanks and helmets.

Rose says his favourite item is a late 1960s helmet with a zip-out liner and a flip-down, built-in visor. He doesn't know why it's his fav.

"I love the toys, too," he says.

Long interested in old bikes, Rose started collecting the stuff earlier this decade with the intent of using it in his shop.

Most of the artifacts were found in Newfoundland, although some of the toys were bought on the Internet.

It was always in the back of his mind that given the right space, he'd like to set up a museum to showcase biker culture and nostalgia.

The two floors above his shop have proven ideal, and he's spent the last two years picking away at the museum.

As he got into it, Rose says he started becoming intrigued with the local history and started researching topics like the Rangers.

He's collected information from the provincial archives, the Memorial University archives, the Newfoundland and Labrador Historical Society and "old school" bikers.

"(They are) customers of mine that come in here that are still riding in their 60s and have had bikes since they were 14. They really know what went on here and have pictures," he says, adding items related to local motorcycle history is welcome if people want to drop them off.

Out of his research, Rose is also putting together a Newfoundland and Labrador motorcycle timeline.

He has data about the first motorcycle in the province, the first guy to get a licence and the first woman to own a bike.

He hopes to fill in the blanks as time goes on.

Rose expects to open the museum in August and says it'll be the only one of its kind in the province.

People will enter through his store to take the self-guided tour. Admission will be charged.

Rose says he's enjoying the process of putting it all together, and preserving some history.

"I don't know what it is, just to be in touch with some of this stuff. To me, being a biker, just being in touch with the old '70s culture, and looking at the old nostalgic manuals and stuff - it's quite interesting."


Organizations: Harley-Davidson, Newfoundland and Labrador Historical Society

Geographic location: California, Newfoundland and Labrador, Whitbourne

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Recent comments

  • rob
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Great Idea, But the last place I would be housing irreplaceable motorcycles would be in a downtown tinderbox.

  • Rod
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Perry Butt has had a motorcycle museum in Wiltondale at the entrance to Gros Morne National Park for several years.

    • sel
      January 25, 2011 - 22:01

      its been closed now for years

  • Old Salt
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I got my cycle lic. in '51 which makes talk of the '70's not so old. At 78 I'm still riding with no intentions of stopping anytime soon. My first bike was a Royal Enfield and my current is a Harley Road King. A local biker museum would be a great project. I'll be visiting.

  • Frankie
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Way to go Sel!! Always enjoyed your Wildrose for Wildlife M/C Rally too ... please bring that back!!

  • dee
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    well, it's about time we had something like this here.

  • Whaddaya At ?
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Hey , Old Salt from Nl., good for you !! You giver an' don't give up ridin'. God bless.