About us – A History of the SCRC in Canada
It was in the early spring of 1999 that John Payne first became aware of the Southern Cruisers. While browsing the internet he came across a link to a riding club called The Southern Cruisers Riding Club. John was immediately struck by their simple approach to what riding as a club was all about. The emphasis on riding and the lack of rules and regulations or the need for meetings or commitments of any kind sounded like just the thing John was looking for. He was already a member of a club which had more than enough rules and regulations and felt it was definitely time for a change.
There was and is a simple process to apply for membership online and as there were no dues or any other form of payment required, John figured he had nothing to lose. In about 3 days he received an email welcoming him to the Club and informing him that he was the first Canadian to have joined and was given a “Member at Large” ID number and with that, the Southern Cruisers Riding Club became established in Canada.
John quickly went on to establish a chapter and on May 3rd 1999 the first Canadian SCRC chapter, chapter 57 Burlington, was born with John as it’s 1st Officer. It didn’t take long for the SCRC in Canada to grow as by early spring of 2000, Kurt Wulf had opened our second chapter, 209 Orangeville, our third, 238 Niagara was opened by Mike Riddick followed shortly by chapter 261 Durham opened by Bruno Marchese. By the summer of 2000, just one short year, the club had grown from an idea to 4 very active chapters.
It was clear that the philosophy of the Club; no dues, no meetings and no commitments of any kind had struck a chord with bikers everywhere and our membership continued to grow with chapters in London, now Aylmer 262, (Mike Cuff), Kitchener 270 (Manish Patel) and Barrie 328 joining in 2001. John believed that this was an idea that even more riders would enjoy and set up a booth at the International Motorcycle Supershow in January 2002. Within a few weeks Mike Langevin had opened chapter 298 in Newmarket. Shortly after that, and after a few previously unsuccessful attempts by others, Billy Rankin successfully opened chapter 383 Toronto. A high point of the year was when Wes Brander opened our first chapter in Quebec, chapter 354 Montreal, in November. We were now ten chapters in only three years. The following year, 2003, saw similar growth when Bill McKiernan opened chapter 373 Peel in March, Rick Hill opened chapter 329 Brantford and in August, another first when Linda Maracle became our first female 1st Officer when she opened chapter 236 Quinte. While all of this was happening, John had been looking after all of our Canadian affairs and in early 2004 became our Regional Officer for Eastern Canada.
The growth of this great idea continued through 2004 with the formation of chapters 418 Sudbury (Butch “Bulldog” Ouimette) in April, 399 Norfolk (Bruce Scheel) in June, 334 Windsor (Louise Emery) in July and 437 Ottawa (Gerry “LoonStar” Goulet) in October. We also saw the start up of our second Quebec chapter, 281 (André Gosselin) and later chapter 460 La Sarre Abitibi (Rémi Lavoie) that year. We thought we were doing great, but our presence at the International Motorcycle Supershow continued to both surprise and amaze us and it became obvious to John that he needed help. In February of 2005 John requested and was given approval for the new position of Ontario Provincial Officer and at our annual Officers meeting in 2005, announced that Mike Langevin would be leaving his position as 1st Officer of Newmarket to become our first Ontario Provincial Officer. Chapter growth continued with three more new chapters in 2005. In February, chapter 238 Niagara divided the Niagara Peninsula giving birth to129 Erie Shores (Denis Martineau), 464 North Halton (Dave “Crockett” Cameron) was formed in July and late in 2005, the Kitchener chapter had grown so large they spun off chapter 501, Cambridge Guelph with Reg Green as it’s 1st Officer.
In the spring of 2006, after 7 years of commitment and dedication to the growth of the club in Canada, John felt it was time for a well-deserved rest and announced his retirement at the annual Officer’s meeting. With John’s retirement Mike Langevin, who had progressed from the 1st Officer of Newmarket to the Ontario Provincial Officer took on the role of Regional Officer of Eastern Canada and Bill McKiernan stepped down as 1st Officer of Peel to become our Ontario Provincial Officer. Also that year, Laurie Johnson took on the new position of Quebec Provincial Officer. While John had passed the torch, he continues to this day as an active member of the chapter he formed in 1999.
In 2007 chapter 11 Hamilton, which had been unsuccessful in a previous attempt, became our 23rd chapter (Jim Marlor). The following year, 2008, saw three new chapters in Quebec, 30 Val d’Or, 140 Brome Missisquoi and 515 Amos becoming our 24th, 25th, and 26th chapters in only ten years, and at our Officers meeting that year, it was announced that Mike Riddick had left his position of 1st Officer of Niagara to take on the role of Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer.
Our chapters met and rode with each other, our members went on road trips with each other, we ate together and we played together and we continued to spread the idea and grow. In 2009, 453
Rouyn-Noranda and 523 Orillia joined us and at our Officers meeting that year our Ontario Provincial Officer, Bill McKiernan retired and was replaced by Mike Riddick. In 2010, 417 St. Jean sur Richelieu (Serge Gérard), in 2011, 553 Lac Megantic (Steeve Duquette) and in 2012, 565 Nottawasaga Bay (Bruce Leslie) joined us. Additionally during this period, in 2009, Lauri Johnson, our Quebec Provincial Officer stepped down and was replaced by Yves LeDoc and in 2011 Butch Ouimette left his position as 1st Officer of chapter 418 Sudbury to become our Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer.
At our Officer’s meeting in spring of 2013, Mike Langevin, who had been our Regional Officer for Eastern Canada since 2006 announced his retirement and the appointment of Mike Riddick to the new position of Canadian National Officer and Butch “Bulldog” Ouimette as our Ontario Provincial Officer. Paul “Too Tall” Devitt left his position of 1st Officer of chapter 238 Niagara to become the Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer.
Shortly after the 2013 Officer’s meeting, 488 French River (Denis Dupuis) joined the club, in 2014 we welcomed 224 Sherbrooke (David Sarasin) and in 2015, 233 Timmins (Pete Henry) in April, 420 Levis (Claude Thibault) in August and 680 Oakville (Kevin Black). We were now 36 chapters and still growing. In 2014 Yves LeDoc retired and was replaced by Mark Brooker as Quebec Provincial Officer. We were still growing at an amazing pace and in 2016 Dennis “Te Bear” Budgen left his position as 1st Officer of chapter 281 Varennes to become our Assistant Quebec Provincial Officer and due to the number of chapters, Butch Ouimette moved to the newly created position of Assistant Canadian National Officer and Paul Devitt to Ontario Provincial Officer. In 2017, four more chapters joined the Southern Cruisers Family, 698 St. Jerome Laurentides (Kyriacos Kyriacou) in January, 710 Thousand Islands (Robert Cook) in April, 726 Stratford (Dan Wagler) in June and 596 North Bay (Ryan Miller) in October. Other changes in 2017 were the retirement of Mark Brooker who was replaced by Dennis Budgen and Pat Roy being appointed Assistant Quebec Provincial Officer. In Ontario, Doug “Chooch” McNamee left his position of 1st Officer of chapter 57 Burlington to take on the role of Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer.
The following year, 2018, showed no sigh of slowing down with 730 Vaudreuil Soulanges (Robert Walsh) joining us in February and 731 Cornwall (Jay Roberts) in March becoming our 41st and 42nd chapters. At our annual Officer’s meeting in April it was again time for a change. Mike Riddick, who had been in a leadership role for 18 years announced that it was time for him to retire and with that Butch “Bulldog” Ouimette, who had become our Assistant Canadian National Officer became our Canadian National Officer with Paul “Too Tall” Devitt moving from Ontario Provincial Officer to Assistant Canadian National Officer and Doug “Chooch” McNamee taking on the role of Ontario Provincial Officer. With these moves creating a vacancy, Mike “Jimmy Gee” Garrison, 1st Officer of chapter 57 Burlington, became our Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer. It was also agreed that with the continuing growth we were experiencing we would need a Canadian National Secretary and were happy to announce that Jenn Whitford had accepted that position. Shortly after the Officer’s meeting,
Our annual Officer’s meeting in spring of 2019 saw additional changes with the retirement of Butch Ouimette. Butch had served as the 1st Officer and founding member of chapter 418, Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer, Ontario Provincial Officer, Assistant Canadian National Officer and Canadian National Officer. He announced that Paul “Too Tall” Devitt, currently Assistant Canadian National Officer would become the new Canadian National Officer. While Butch had retired from this position, he wasn’t leaving as he accepted a 3 year assignment to the Board of Directors for the Southern Cruisers Riding Club. Additionally, Doug McNamee announced the addition of a second Assistant Ontario Provincial Officer, 1st Officer of 383 Toronto Joe “Rainman” Stapleton. Things were moving right along and in the right direction and in 2019, the SCRC quietly celebrated 20 years in Canada. We were a club of 42 chapters and still growing.
In February 2020, chapter 163 Laval (Danny MacLean) and after several unsuccessful attempts our first western chapter, 353 Winnipeg (Ross Roteliuk) joined. We had been attempting to gain membership in our western provinces with little success and the Winnipeg chapter was a welcome addition to our family. The most recent member of our family is 94 Plaisance – La Petit Nation (Sylvain Fugere) which became our 45th chapter in February 2021.
Our Canadian SCRC chapters are not fictional nor are they deemed “anticipated growth”. They are existing organized, active and functional groups that are all part of the worldwide family of chapters. We are without doubt Canadian, but we’re also proud to be part of a much bigger organization with much bigger benefits. Whether you’re planning a trip to Bike Week in Florida in January, Americade and/or Laconia in June or Sturgis in August you can look up a local chapter or several chapters along your route, make contact and expect to be welcomed by any of our members nation wide and feel at home with them the moment you arrive.
Currently, there are 45 active SCRC chapters across Canada with approximately 5,000 Canadian members. Worldwide membership of over 25,000 with 721 Chapters including: USA, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Korea, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland to name a few. The fellowship and joy of riding combined with the “Keep it Simple” philosophy of the SCRC will continue to make this club the success that it is in the years to come.