March 6/09 12:05 pm - Sad News
Posted by Editor on 03/6/09
We are saddened to report that Joe Gardin passed away on Wednesday, March 4th. For those readers newer to the sport, this name will be unknown, but Joe was an iconic member of the Canadian cycling industry in the 1980s.
His main business was Mobile Industries, which made pallet trucks, but Joe had the Italian passion for cycling, and set up part of his factory in Mississauga (on Mavis Road) for bicycle manufacturing, bringing in Italian framebuilders initially to run things and train others. Gardin Bikes were, of course, road and track bikes. He eventually opened Veneto Cycle, a retail outlet, but bikies in the know could always swing by the factory to discuss an order, or pick up a part or two.
Joe was also a strong supporter of Canadian cycling - both men and women - sponsoring members of the national team, particularly Canadian Olympian Curt Harnett. When Clara Hughes, who was racing for my wife and I, needed a track bike (our sponsor didn't make track bikes), Joe custom built one for her. He could come across as a gruff man, but once you started talking cycling, all his passion came out.
Our best wishes to his family. Visitation will be held today from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm at the Turner & Porter Chapel, 1981 Dundas St W, Mississauga. A funeral Mass will be held at St Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church (2340 Hurontario St, Mississauga) tomorrow (March 7th) at 10 am.
If you have memories of Joe, please post them in the Forums.
National team member Denise Kelly (and now Ontario provincial coach) passed along the following memories:
I just received the sad news that Joe Gardin had passed away. I have never forgotten this man and his family who did so much to support me and the cycling community. In fact, one of my training routes in Halton passes by his old house where I happened to ride by yesterday, so he is never far from my memory.
Joe was instrumental in helping amateur athletes reach their potential in the sport. I was very fortunate to benefit from Joe's big heart and his passion for cycling. He sponsored me during the entire time I was racing on the National Team in the eighties and early nineties. When I was on home soil, I'd proudly wear the Gardin jersey and then the Veneto Cycle one, named after the store his son opened up on Bloor St. I won both the High Park and Queen's Park races in Toronto while racing for Gardin, something he was very happy about!
His famous line was, "I won't give you money but take all the equipment you need." He wasn't kidding. I'd go visit him at the warehouse on Mavis Rd. and literally take a shopping cart to pile it high with wheels, tires, components ... you name it. I was one of the first riders to try out the prototype frames he built on site - the 'compact' frame (with the curved seat tube) and his first carbon frame. I always had custom built frames and rode them around the world. I kept the last one he made for me in 1991 complete with first generation Shimano components and down tube shifters.
Joe and his wife, Bette, welcomed me into the fold like one of their family. The Toronto Italia Cycling Club was a huge beneficiary of his generosity with many a young athlete sporting the Gardin logo. I became good friends with Curt Harnett at that time as he was Gardin's big name athlete for many years.
I will for ever be grateful to Joe Gardin. Whether out on my bike or motorpacing athletes by his house, I'll be sure to say a prayer for him and his family.
Also, from the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada:
The Canadian bicycle industry has lost a champion of cycling with the passing of Joe Gardin. Mr. Gardin was an leader who established the Gardin Bicycles in Canada to build custom road bikes. A generous man who over the years he sponsored and supported many athletes and assisted in establishing cycling as we know it today in Canada. The Bicycle Trade Association of Canada expresses our sincere condolences to Mr. Gardin's family.