Edward Goold (1849 - 1920) was a Brantford boy. He was born and raised in the city where his father had established himself as one of Canada's pioneer stove makers. Despite being described as a young man with a modest and retiring disposition, Edward Goold grew up to be one of Brantford's most important industrialists.
At a young age Goold joined Goold & Agnew, Brantford's leading stove and hardware merchants. At the same time, he also became a senior member of the firm known as Goold & Co. which manufactured refridgerators.
In 1880 William J. Knowles, who had been running his father's hardware business in Elmira, Ontario, came to Brantford where he also took up a position in the hardware store of Goold and Agnew. When the latter passed away, Knowles entered into a partnership with Edward Goold.
In 1888 Goold and Knowles established the Goold Bicycle Co. Incorporated on March 22 of that year, the company listed Goold as president, Knowles as vice-president and W. H. Shapley as plant superintendent. A subsidiary company, the Brantford Bicycle Supply Co., was also formed to produce bicycle tires, rims, saddles etc. The company would eventually make the first vulcanized rubber tire in Canada.
In the beginning the newly-formed bicycle company of Edward Goold and William Knowles leased part of the Schultz Brothers building, a large three storey structure at Albion and Adelaide Streets in Brantford that also included a blacksmith shop. It was at this location that the two gentlemen began the manufacture of bicycles.
The January 2nd 1891 edition of the Brantford Weekly Expositor reported that "the firm, besides making the ordinary Brantford and Brantford No.1 high-wheeled bicycle, are also turning out in large numbers the Diamond and Brantford No.1 safety bicycle.” At the time it was noted that the firm employed 50 men and turned out 1,500 bicycles a year.
The Brantford bicycle operation of Goold and Knowles progressed at a rapid rate. In 1893 the company built a large three-story factory on Elgin St. in Brantford where, within a few years, 350 men were producing 100 bicycles a day including the company's most popular model, the Red Bird.
Again the success of the company was noted in the local newspaper which reported that “Brantford takes second place to no city of its size in the world in the sport of cycling, and in bicycle racing. It is claimed on good authority that there are more cyclists in Brantford in proportion to the population, than in any city on the continent.”
From its earliest days the Goold Bicycle Co. had established a strong affiliation with famous Canadian bicycle racers who competed at various meets around the country. At one time it was reported that its riders held all the Class B championships in Canada except one.
When the Goold Bicycle Company team won the Canadian Wheelman Association event in Quebec in 1896, they were given a royal welcome upon their return to Brantford. Met at the train station by a large crowd, cheering and waving banners, the team were taken in horse-drawn cabs to the market square where the town's mayor, Thomas Elliott, as well as the local M.P.P. and federal M.P., all gave speeches lauding the accomplishments of the riders and singing the praises of the Red Bird bicycle.
The Brantford company often used its success on the track to take a patriotic jab at its American competitors, some of whom had established branch plants in Canada. “The Red Bird is Canadian by birth – not by adoption. Canadian because it was born that way, not because there happened to be dollars in it,” proclaimed a Goold Bicycle Co. advertisement at the time.
In March 1898 when the Goold Bicycle Co. opened a retail outlet at 68 King St. W. in Toronto, it was said to be one of the most complete establishments in the Dominion. Here a visitor could find "a large stock of sporting goods and sundries, including among other articles a large variety of saddles, handle bars, and splendid display of wheels.”
At the rear of the salesroom was the office of Mr. Henry Hunter, the manager, as well as the ladies’ reception room where it was said women of distinction could powder their noses or have a cup of tea while the men tended to business.
The second floor of the Toronto establishment contained the company’s head office where L.C. Laishley presided as district manager. The requisite riding academy was on the third floor where it was said the instructors could turn the most awkward beginner into a pro for the nominal fee of $2, which would be "refunded should the rider decide to buy a wheel.”
The fourth floor held the stock room and repair department which was in the charge of a thoroughly skilled mechanic by the name of William S. Wilson. It was through Wilson that the company had applied for various patents including one for a bicycle brake (1887), a pneumatic tire (1896), ball bearings (1897) and a dust guard for the bearings (1897). Working alongside Wislon was said to be "a sufficiently large staff of employees to turn out all repair work promptly, so that there are no long, tedious waits while the wheel is being put in shape.”
It was that same March (1898) that tragedy struck the Goold Bicycle Company when a severe fire destroyed the building that housed both by the Goold Bicycle Co. and the Goold, Shapley & Muir Co., a well-known producer of windmills, gasoline engines and tractors.
Following the fire Edward Goold purchased the building that had formerly housed the J.O.Wisner agricultural equipment works and continued to produce bicycles. By August 1899, however, rumours had begun to surface that the Goold Bicycle Co. was to be sold to a group of Toronto businessmen.
The rumours proved to be true when it was announced that the Goold Bicycle Co. was to be merged with four other companies to form the Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd. (CCM). At the same time, it was also announced that Edward Goold was to be a director of the newly-formed company which was to have its headquarters in Toronto. Dismayed by this turn of events the Brantford Expositor predicted that the merger would spell an end to the bicycle works in Brantford.
CCM moved quickly to dispel the notion. In an interview with the Toronto Globe in September 1899, George Cox, the future Senator and most prominent member of the company's board of directors, attempted to assure the people of Brantford that it was the bicycle operation in St. Catharines, not Brantford, that would be closed down.
"Extensions of the works in Brantford are contemplated," announced Cox at the time. "The Welland Vale factory at St. Catharines will be operated for a few months yet and then the machinery it contains will be transferred to Brantford to occupy the additional room which will be provided there."
Just as Cox predicted, in May 1900 when a fire destroyed the Welland Vale bicycle works in St. Catharines production of that company's bicycle lines was transferred to Brantford.
A sketch of the Canada Cycle & Motor plant in Brantford 1901
Canada Cycle & Motor continued to operate its Brantford bicycle works until 1903 when the company's directors decided to consolidate their operation at the former H.A. Lozier & Co. plant at Toronto Junction. Despite the closure of the Brantford operation at this time, the "Redbird" remained a staple in the CCM bicycle line for a number of years to come.