ABoutcan-am 50th
ABoutcan-am 50th

Greetings from the chairman

Welcome to the can-am 50th Anniversary and Festival

As President of The Thistle V.O.R.F. Inc and Chairman of the 50th, I whole heartedly welcome you to this great, once in a lifetime event.

Since late November of 2021we have been in the planning stages and hope that you enjoy all that this wonderful event has to offer.

My committee’s and I feel that we have presented a program that everyone can enjoy even if you don’t compete. Aside from 3 days of competition, we are offering you, the fans and enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the static displays from our vendors, sponsors and friends of the 50th to view new products and services. ( in the case of can-am, everything new for 2024 will be available to see including motorcycles, 3 wheelers & 4 wheelers )
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The History

For those interested in researching history of the brand, we are extremely pleased to enable you to meet former factory employees hired by Bombardier who literally brought the “ idea “ of producing a line of motorcycles to fruition. Meet multi time ISDT Champion, 2 times 500cc World Champion and more, Mr Jeff Smith as well as other members of the original design team, attend their Q & A sessions, workshops and seminars. As well, for the competitors we have numerous former factory sponsored riders Gary Jones, Marty Tripes, Jimmy Ellis, Gary Semics and Jim Holley rounding out the mens portion and Nancy Payne (1st female National Champion) and Sue Fish for the females. These celebs will be here all weekend greeting people, competing and of course being a huge part of the festivities and of course our raffle bikes draw.

Joe Abbate, online media guru and host of Vintage Motocross Q & A will be our host and Master of Ceremonies. As well a being our Master of ceremonies, Joe will also be judging our Concours Vintage bike show.

Can-am/BRP is bringing numerous items and articles from their museum and archives for you to enjoy. View never seen before bikes like the 500cc Twin cylinder street bike plus numerous other rarities.

At the event

To accommodate these events we have developed tent city, just in case mother nature decides to stop by. Our 60 x 90 banquet tent, AKA the can-am Pavilion will be home to numerous events including Q & A sessions, Seminars, Meet n Greets, awards, prizes, the raffle and the event highlight, a FREE TO ALL BANQUET, SPONSORED BY CAN-AM AND HOSTED BY THE THISTLE VORF INC. We’re prepared to feed over 1,000 people.

Tent 2, a 50 x 100 tent is home to our sponsors/vendors area as well as space for our social media hosts to meet’n greet, the Concours bike show etc. Meet the people face to face that support your vintage bikes through offering parts and/or services such as Vintage Roost, Royal Distributing etc.

Tent 3, a 60 x 40 tent is home to the can-am/BRP new product showcase as well as registration, merchandise and first aide.

Saturday will see an “ open air “ flea market for vintage bike parts running all day.
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Finally, I’d like to thank our gracious hosts, the Schuster family and Gopher Dunes. Thanks Barb, Frank and Derek for your support and an awesome place to host this amazing event. Your involvement has elevated this event to a new level! A special thanks going out to Barb for allowing use of her personal space, “The Pine Oasis“ giving women a quiet area to enjoy whiling away the hours while enjoying piped in music.

As you can see, there really is something for everyone of all ages. Come and enjoy the festivities and who knows, you may just end up winning one of the 3 raffle bikes.


John Lake

A word from our sponsor

Press Releasecan-am comeback on 2 wheels
Press Releasecan-am comeback on 2 wheels


One of the best-kept secrets in motorcycling is the fact that multi-national recreational vehicle manufacturer Bombardier Recreational Products ( BRP ) was the only Canadian company to build motorcycles in any significant quantities. Unless you where born before 1970, it’s unlikely you’ve seen or even read about the popular Canadian two-wheelers until now.

BRP’s first two-wheeled vehicles left the Valcourt Quebec assembly line in 1973. Over the next 20 years, BRP produced competitive motocross and enduro motorcycles that sold world-wide to race winning enthusiasts.

BRP was first established in 1936 when its founder Joseph Bombardier had the idea to use an automobile engine to power a tracked vehicle, creating the worlds first snowmobile. After becoming the most successful snowmobile manufacturer, capturing a reported 90% market share in the 70’s with their iconic Ski Doo sleds, the higher ups at BRP decided to branch out to include motorcycles in their product lineup.

BRP enlisted the services of some of the most well respected and talented engineers and motorcycle racers of the era to design, build and test prototype dirt bikes as early as 1970. The Canam project was lead by Laurent Boudin who went on to become CEO of BRP until his retirement in 2017. His team was made up mostly of savvy dirt bike enthusiasts from all over the world, in particular, American innovator Gary Robison and 2 time World Motocross Champion Jeff Smith. This duo worked alongside Canadian and international racers, project managers, development engineers, designers and technicians such as Bob Fisher, Dave McLean, Geoff Burgess, Bob Barker, Jim Allen, Ron Mathews and Ron Poneche, to name a few.

The historical significance of the early can-am project cannot be understated. BRP’s motorcycle racing efforts broadened the appeal off can-am / BRP name and that residual brand equity is still felt today.
Gary Jones #1, Marty Tripes #2 and Jimmy Ellis #3. this is the only time in the history of the sport that the first 3 places in the national championship series went to 1 manufacturer.
(Above: 1974 featuring Gary Jones, Mary Tripes and Jimmy Ellis who finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the AMA National 250cc MX Championships. An impressive showing for a 2 year old company, and one that has never happened since!)
History of CAN-AM


One if the best selling motorcycle models in Canada is the popular can-am Spyder, the three wheeled road going vehicle that brings the freedom of riding to a wider audience, especially attractive to female riders. The Spyder was launched in 2007 and has enjoyed commercial success among enthusiasts since the beginning.

BRP also leveraged the can-am brand to introduce 4 wheeled ATV’s and more recently side-by-side ( SxS) off-road recreational vehicles.

Since there’s no shortage of can-am enthusiasts around the world, BRP has deemed the time has come to bring back two-wheeled can-ams in the form of ELECTRIC motorcycles. This past summer, BRP announced the news of two versions of a futuristic-looking bike, a road-going model called the PULSE and the dirt ready ORIGIN, both featuring Rotax E-Power. The can-am bikes are due on the market sometime in 2023-24.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first can-am MX1 125 and 175 as well as the TNT models, an event is planned that should see a reunion of the who’s who of can-am history.

50th anniversary & festival

The can-am 50th anniversary event and festival is scheduled for August 17 - 20th 2023, at Gopher Dunes in Courtland, Ontario. Activities planned include vintage bike displays ( can-am/BRP will be bringing some items and vehicles from their museum ),can-am/BRP static display, a swap meet, vendor marketplace, seminars, work shops, free banquet ( sponsored for everyone by can-am/BRP), concours bike show, trials demonstration, cross country and MX racing and last but not least, special guest appearances by former factory employees and riders.

Event organizer and host, John Lake recently announced some names associated with the original can-ams, “ we are in touch with most of the former factory riders of the era as well as members of the original design team “ Lake said during an interview. Riders included are Gary Jones, Marty Tripes, Jimmy Ellis, Jim Holley and Gary Semics while original design team members attending include Jeff Smith, Bob Fisher, Dave McLean, Geoff Burgess etc.. Added to the list of celebrity attendees include our host and master of ceremonies, vintage motorcycle restoration guru and podcast host, Joe Abbate.

In addition to all the attractions offered at the can-am 50th Anniversary and Festival, 3 fully restored vintage can-am motorcycles will be won by three lucky raffle tickets holders on the August weekend. Models include a 1974 MX1 250, a 1977 ISDT 175 and a 1979 370 Qualifier. All three bikes are rare and highly cherished by vintage bike collectors.
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