FAMILY BUSINESS: Bert Irwin inducted into Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame

Published on November 9, 2015
Tom Irwin shows off his father Bert's 1967 BSA 500 Royal Star - a touring bike. Irwin also has his dad's racing machine, a 1957 BSA 650 Spitfire.

CORNWALL, Ontario - Bert Irwin left this world more than 20 years ago - but his passion for motorcycles and helping fellow enthusiasts has continued to stand the test of time.

Irwin, posthumously, was inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame on the weekend in Toronto.

The Irwin family is known in Cornwall as the bedrock of local motorcycling. They own Irwin Supply in the city - a Mecca for local motorcycle riders - and Bert made a name for himself as not only a Canadian leader among enduro racers, but as a local volunteer as president of the Kiwanis Club of Cornwall, past master of the Eastern Lodge 707 and founding board member and president of Laurencrest Youth Home.

"He would have been humbled by this," said his son Tom, also a competitive racer. "He was a humble man, for sure."

The Irwin clan made the trek to Toronto to celebrate the induction, including Tom's partner Lynne, his mother Marnie, sister Kellee and daughters Katie and Kelsie.

Tom said of the nine inductees also enshrined, four made specific mention of Bert and the Irwin family.

"Over the years everyone in the family had had a part in their racing career," he said. "It made me feel extremely proud."

Bert began racing at 16 on the dirt tracks of Ontario and Quebec and after placing well in the junior division in 1950; was top money winner as a senior in eastern Canada in 1951.  In 1952, he ended the season second in Eastern Division Canadian Expert dirt track and third in Expert Road Racing, improving his position to second in 1953.

While competing in 1954, Bert suffered a broken back and the medical opinion was that he would never ride again and may have to endure a permanent disability.

Not to be deterred Bert was right back into racing, winning the Quebec Trials Championship in 1955 and 1956 as well as a second in the Canadian Ice Racing Championship that same year.

His last National Championship came in 1978 when Bert was 45 years old.