II-107596.1 | A. S. McCormack and bicycle, Montreal, QC, 1894

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A. S. McCormack and bicycle, Montreal, QC, 1894
Wm. Notman & Son
1894, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

In the 19th century, after their design is improved and they get lighter because of the new metal alloys, bicycles become a very popular mode of transportation.

The evolution of the bicycle is very rapid. The velocipede made of wood by the Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1839) is considered something of a toy. But the metal velocipede fashioned by the French wheelwright Ernest Michaux (1861) is a serious means of locomotion.

Harry J. Lawson, in England, invents a pedal to drive the bicycle's back wheel (1876) and a chain drive and pedals similar to the ones of today (1879). His bicycle has a cross-shaped frame, much like our all-terrain vehicles.

The bicycle, illustrated here, has wheels of the same size, handbars, fork blades and a diamond-shaped frame.

Bicycles provide an incentive to take part in sport, help save on the cost of transporation and encourage communication and exchange with others. Several professions (messengers, letter carriers...) adopt them. In other words, they play an integral role in the social transformation of the era.

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    This cyclist is proudly showing off his bicycle with its diamond-shaped frame - quite the novelty in 1884.

  • Where

    The woman's bicycle, which is ridden astride, is patented in England in 1874. The brave cyclists who first use them are breaking ground simply because they are willing to reveal their legs! In the United States, Mrs. Amelia Bloomer designs women's "bloomer" pants, based on an oriental style, to be worn by women when riding a bicycle.

  • When

    The bicycle tire is invented in 1888 by John Dunlop of Ireland.

  • Who

    In 1878, an article in Scientific American magazine announces that the bicycle is "a horse that is always saddled and eats nothing and requires no care."