THE DEFENDERS MOTORCYCLE CLUB HISTORY
This is a chronicle concerning the history of a motorcycle club called the DEFENDERS. In 1984 a few members of the Canadian Forces gathered at CFB Borden to discuss the feasibility of establishing a National Motorcycle Club. These members were: Brian Lauzon, Barry Thorne, Wayne Dingle, Kurt Kranshat, Di Moore, Gord Crowe, Tony Oliver, Mike Stapleton, Fred Thesner, Josh Lacroix and Bob Steadman.
The group approached Base Administration concerning their idea and was told quite bluntly that neither the Base nor NDHQ could support a National Club under current regulations. At the current time, CFB Borden had a motorcycle club and its members wanted nothing to do with a new club.
Instead of giving up, the members commenced preparations for their new club and initiated a Charter, bylaws, designed a crest and formed Chapter 1Defenders CFB Borden. Being naïve, and learning as they went, the group chose the red maple leaf on a black background with a white motorcycle and a banner that read CANADA under the tire. They also allowed for a provincial banner at the bottom. Their only thought was to create a crest that represented who they were. Little did they realize that the colours that were chosen were synonymous to worldwide outlaw biker colours. This would soon give them grief.
Being anxious to start, they forged ahead and an article was printed in the Base Paper declaring the Club’s stand up as of July 1984. The starting members also belonged to other clubs that required its members to ride a particular brand of motorcycle, a practice that would never to this day be an issue with the DEFENDERS.
The initial hope was to establish a Chapter at all major bases and stations in Canada that included extending the membership to retired military personnel thereby establishing an old guard with the serving members. The overall intention was to ensure membership transfers upon posting from one Chapter to another without loosing the cohesion of the Chapter.
With the Club forging forward, the executive decided to sponsor a favorable charity that could be significant to the Club as well as Nationally. After deliberation they chose the CHAMP program of the War Amps of Canada. It was felt that promoting a strong association with War Amps, the Armed Forces and the Amputees would be a good cause to sponsor.
In the fall of 1984, the newly formed Defenders held its first ever Poker Run for Champ. The elected executive and some members traveled to Toronto to meet with Mr. David Saunders, Executive Director of the War Amps Key Tag Service. It was here that the DEFENDERS presented Mr. Saunders a cheque in the order of $210.00, the Club’s first official donation.
In the fall of 1984 Brian Lauzon was transferred to CFS Beausejour where he formed Chapter 2 Manitoba. In the summer of 1985 the recruiting numbers rose to 75 members and one member, Bill Durie, having returned to CFB Gagetown formed Chapter 3 New Brunswick. Also in 1985 Kurt Kranshat and John Lacroix established Chapter 4 Germany. Lastly in 1985 Bob MacPherson started Chapter 5 Saskatchwan in Moosejaw.
In early 1986 Chapter 6 Suffield Alberta came on line followed closely by Chapter 7 Chilliwack British Columbia. During the summer of the same year, CFB Petawawa inquired on becoming a Chapter however because of conflicts with the Base it never stood up.
In 1988 while some members of the DEFENDERS visited the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, they were confronted by the local Hell’s Angels Chapter concerning the DEFENDER Crest, which they referred to as colours. After phone calls between both presidents it was decided to redesign the crest. At the same time the Rebels Club was telling Chapter 9 Calgary to loose the provincial banner (called rocker) as in their mind it was a claim to territory. Hence the crest changes saw the words Motorcycle Club deleted and the lower banner changed to identify the Chapter number. Also in 1988 Chapter 9 Calgary Alberta came on line and the National Executive was transferred to Chilliwac BC under Bill Durie as National President.
1988 saw significant changes in the Club. With many members posted and loosing touch, Chapter 2 was the first to fold with the closure of CFS Beausejour followed by Chapter 3 Gagetown, Chapter 5 Moosejaw and finally Chapter 4 Germany. The losses were due mainly to the losses of key members upon posting.
In 1988 the National Executive transferred to Chapter 6 Suffield with Don Masson as National President and a year later he turned over the reins to Doc Handford. Many changes were taking place however the Club continued to prosper.
In 1990 Gord Crowe was posted to CFB Shearwater and in July, on the sixth anniversary of the DEFENDERS, and with twelve other members Chapter 10 was formed under Sean Birch as president.
The summer of 1991 saw Chapter 11 Peterborough stand up and Chapter 1 was revitalized by Greg Barber. The first DEFENDERS National Rally was held in Kamloops BC with Chapter 6 Suffield, Chapter 7 Chilliwack and Chapter 9 Calgary attending. At this gathering the National Executive was transferred to Penhold with Bill Durie assuming the duties as National President for the second time. During this period the posting of key members of the National Executive resulted in Asking Chapter 10 N.S. to take over the duties as the National Executive. In 1992 the new National Executive stood up and was led by Gord Crowe, Sunny Zinck, Diane Zinck and Darrell “Papa Smurf” Macleod.
The club suffered once again with the posting of key members however and the National Executive stood down. Many of the Chapters struggled to retain the numbers required to keep their Chapter status and most went into the rebuilding mode.
Chapter 10 focused of fundraising for CHAMP and raised $875.00 in its first year. As time went on this number increased to $10,500.00 in 1997 due to the organization and dedication of Wink and Kathy Saulnier. Their commitment, through auctions, for three years helped raise funds for our worthy cause. In 2000 this action alone raised over $6,600.00 for CHAMP and every penny went to benefit a child amputee.
In 2000, with three strong Chapters, the National Executive was re-instituted and the Club was receiving fantastic write-ups and media appearances in support of charity fundraising. In this year, Manitoba again applied as a Chapter at CFB Winnipeg, however, they struggled for two years until they eventually withdrew in 2002, but later re-established as Chapter 17.
As 2001 ended, Chapter 10 Nova Scotia entered a gray era and with many members being deployed and members wanting to go in different directions: the Chapter almost stood down. In the end the Chapter survived and began to rebuild its membership. Throughout 2002 Chapter 10 continued to grow and participated in more and more fundraising activities.
In the years that followed, until present day, the Chapter has grown to fifty members. It has assisted Chapter 2 NB once again to stand up and has participated in many rides for charity. A new Chapter 11 was stood up in Amherst NS.
We are DEFENDERS. Our members include those who serve and have served in the Defense of Canada. We are serving and retired regular military, reserve military, DND civilian employees, RCMP, Coast Guard and their spouses. Our associate members include Canadian motorcyclist, 17 and over, who adheres to the Club Charter and who actively support its goals.