Long-time Inside Motorcycles Senior Editor Warren Thaxter was inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame during the 10th annual Banquet and Ceremony at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel on Saturday evening, November 7. Thaxter was one of nine inductees honoured during the event, sponsored by Husqvarna Motorcycles and presented by the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada.
The presentation portion for Thaxter started with an introduction from emcee Pat Gonsalves, before a video covering some of the highlights of the career of a man who “influenced almost every aspect of off-road riding.” The overview described Thaxter’s involvement as an event organizer, rally planner and trailblazing (and trail building!) pioneer.
Thaxter built the ground floor for organized trail riding, co-founding the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders. Eventually the OFTR was able to hire a full-time staffer, allowing the group to greatly increase its influence from a government and structural point of view. In 1994, Thaxter and a group like-minded trail riders started an ambitious off-road and trail riding facility at the Ganaraska Forest called Blair Sharpless Trail Tours. The school-oriented facility continues to this day, operated by Steve Weykamp.
In 2001 Thaxter got in on the ground floor with Rally Connex, working to build self-guided tours off-road with then-new GPS technology. Connex continues to offer tours and events via GPS. Thaxter has established a culture of trail construction, support and event preparation that has fostered a strong spirit of club volunteerism, yielding a range of officially-chartered off-road clubs in Ontario. Thaxter has served on a number of boards, including the CMA, MCC and CMHOF, and organized events as part of the Offroad Ontario series.
“That is kind of an impressive bio,” quipped Thaxter from the podium, after receiving his medal from Hall of Fame member and good friend Toni Sharpless. “But I didn’t do any of that stuff – by myself. A friend of mind once told me about 'forest fairies' who must have fixed his bike when it broke down on the trails. I love the term, I have used it ever since, and I guess I’ve had the help of a lot of great forest fairies over the years. Forest Fairies come early, sometimes months early, and then they do all their magic before most of the people show up to ride, and then they’re the last to leave,” explained Thaxter. “They take down arrows that they maybe just put up, roll up ribbons, pack up the garbage and turn off the lights.” Thaxter then went on to name just some of the forest fairies that he had appreciated over the past few decades.
Thaxter also thanked former Kawasaki staffers Andrew Knowles and Debbie Watson for their sponsorship of his trail programs, followed up by similar support from Tom Etherington at KTM. “I also want to thank Dave Weber and John Hopkins of Inside Motorcycles magazine,” said the newest Hall of Fame honouree. “For 16 years, they seemed to think that I had something to say, and gave the place to say it.”
Thaxter then indicated that he might like to continue his many stories via a book, using his mother for inspiration. Now 99 and on hand to watch the ceremonies featuring her son, Mrs. Thaxter competed her own book over a decade ago.