The CCM Goes to War – The Canada Cycle and Motor Agency (Qld) Ltd, 1914-18

Guest blogger: Dr Hilary Davies, 2018 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellow.

The Canada Cycle and Motor Agency (Qld) Ltd (CCM) was a major company in Queensland between 1905 and 1929, primarily selling motorised vehicles, engines, bicycles and sporting goods. About fifty per cent of the CCM’s workforce of approximately 120 volunteered for service during the First World War.1 Enlistees ranged from managers to salesmen and workmen.1,2 For the duration of the conflict, the CCM supported the war effort in many ways and its staff’s involvement in the war.

Renault Machine Gun Carrier donated to the A.I.F. by the CCM. Published in Illustrated London News, 12 Dec 1914, p. 828

Renault Machine Gun Carrier donated to the A.I.F. by the CCM. Published in Illustrated London News, 12 Dec 1914, p. 828

In 1914 and 1915, CCM volunteers were farewelled and presented with parting gifts at the popular Rowe’s Café in Edward Street, where Brisbane people met and celebrated important events until the 1950s. In October 1916, CCM employees assembled at the company’s office in William Street to farewell G. Clark and A. Wella, who were hopeful of joining the aviation corps.2,3,4

Rowe’s Café, c1910 (EJT Barton, Jubilee History of Queensland 1909, Diddams, Brisbane, 1910, p. 328.)

Rowe’s Café, c1910 (EJT Barton, Jubilee History of Queensland 1909, Diddams, Brisbane, 1910, p. 328.)

Recognition by the company of its employees’ service was more public in June 1916, when Finney, Isles and Co., one of Brisbane’s largest department stores, displayed in its Queen Street windows “A Memento, C.C.M. Employees in the Great War” comprising individual photographs of the CCM employees who had volunteered, “as a reminder of those whose spirit of loyal service to the firm is reflected in a broader phase in their ungrudging service to the Empire”.4 This was one of a number of Finney, Isles and Co. window displays appreciating war service. Their ‘Big Block Building’ at 196 Queen Street, between Albert and Edward Streets, is now heritage-listed. Later generations will remember the building as part of the former David Jones’ department store.

Finney Isles Building Queen Street, 1909. (EJT Barton, Jubilee History of Queensland 1909, Diddams, Brisbane, 1910, p. 306.)

Finney Isles Building Queen Street, 1909. (EJT Barton, Jubilee History of Queensland 1909, Diddams, Brisbane, 1910, p. 306.)

The CCM also sent its cars to war. Within weeks of the outbreak of hostilities, the CCM had customised a Renault car with a CCM-designed body to carry a machine gun and its crew. The Brisbane firm Trackson Brothers, electrical engineers, donated a revolving spotlight and the Barnet Glass Tire Company donated tyres for the vehicle. The machine gun carrier was then presented to the Second Light Horse Regiment at Enoggera.5 Later, with other Studebaker dealers, the CCM donated a 6-cylinder Studebaker car to the Australian Mining Corps for their use in France.6

Studebaker for the Australian Mining Corps supplied by Studebaker dealers around Australia. (Brisbane Courier, 4 Mar 1916, p.13.)

Studebaker for the Australian Mining Corps supplied by Studebaker dealers around Australia. (Brisbane Courier, 4 Mar 1916, p.13.)

At a more local level, the CCM lent equipment – such as a stationary engine to the grenade school at the Enoggera rifle range for the duration of hostilities, cars to the Red Cross for transporting convalescent soldiers from Rosemount Military Hospital to entertainments, and a truck to assist with the erection of an Anzac cottage at Enoggera for a soldier’s widow.7,8,9

In the spirit of war-time charity, the CCM and its employees donated to a variety of causes including the Motor Ambulance Fund,10 the Franco-Queensland League of Help,11 the Engineers’ Appeal Fund “to provide Christmas comforts for the members of the Queensland Engineers and Miners’ units serving with the A.I.F.”,12 and for a “fitting entertainment of the brave men of our mercantile marine” (whatever that might have been!).13

In June 1918, the CCM supported Wattle Day with “an exceptionally fine display of wattle” at its premises, on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets. Wattle Day’s purpose was to foster national sentiment and raise funds for the establishment of an orthopaedic hospital to treat maimed soldiers.14

After war’s end, the CCM welcomed its returning soldiers back to their jobs and extended assistance to those who had been affected by the war.

For further information about the project or to contribute any memories or connections to the CCM contact State Library of Queensland at slqevents@slq.qld.gov.au or 3840 7424.

To see more images of the CCM and its vehicles, go to Flickr.

Using the State Library Queensland OneSearch program you can explore resources connected to this interesting Queensland company via this tag Canada Cycle and Motor Agency.

Hilary Davies is the recipient of the 2018 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellowship for her project Putting Queenslanders on the Road: The Canada Cycle and Motor Agency Ltd.

Through examining the collections of the State Library of Queensland, this project will endeavour to make the Canada Cycle and Motor Agency’s achievements, its employees, and its importance in Queensland’s business landscape visible.

1 ‘Sixty “Do their Bit”, CCM Staff Welcome Home’, The Daily Mail, 7 Feb 1919, p. 9.

2 ‘Mr A V Dodwell, Welcome Home. Farewell to Soldiers’, BC, 16 Oct 1914, p. 4; ‘Cycle and Motor’, Queenslander, 7 Aug 1915, p. 18; ‘Local and General News’, Morning Bulletin, 4 Oct 1916, p. 6.

3 ‘Motorists and Cyclists’, BC, 24 Sep 1914, p.7; ‘Personal’, The Northern Miner, 29 Feb 1912, p. 4; ‘Local and General News’, Morning Bulletin, 4 Oct 1916, p. 6.

4 ‘A Memento’, Brisbane Courier, 3 June 1916, p. 7.

5 ‘Australia Queensland Volunteers in Camp. Motor Car presented to Defence Authorities.’, Daily Mercury (Mackay), 28 Aug 1914, p. 5; ‘The Motor Machine Gun’, Telegraph, 4 Sep 1914, p. 7; ‘Motor Gun Carriage’, Daily Standard, 16 Sep 1914, p. 5; ‘Motorists and Cyclists’, Brisbane Courier, 24 Sep 1914, p.7; ‘Personal’, The Northern Miner, 29 Feb 1912, p. 4.

6 ‘For the Australian Mining Corps’, Brisbane Courier, 4 Mar 1916, p. 13.

7 ‘Grenade School’, Brisbane Courier, 30 Nov 1915, p.8; ‘A Useful Donation’, Brisbane Courier, 20 Dec 1915, p. 7.

8 ‘Croix Rouge’, Brisbane Courier, 20 Dec 1915, p. 7; ‘Red Cross Society’, Telegraph, 7 Mar 1916, p. 5; ‘For the Wounded. Work in the Hospitals’, Telegraph, 8 Jan 1916, p. 8.

9 ANZAC Workers Again’, Telegraph, 30 Jul 1917, p. 3.

10 ‘“Courier” Patriotic Funds’ Queensland Times, 30 Apr 1915, p. 6; ‘Motor Ambulance Fund. A Cheque for £50’, Brisbane Courier, 19 Jul 1915, p. 8.

11 ‘For France’, Brisbane Courier, 28 Jul 1917, p.6.

12 ‘Patriotic War Work’, Brisbane Courier, 20 Nov 1918, p. 9.

13 ‘Sailor’s Day – March 8’, Brisbane Courier, 2 Feb 1918, p. 7.

14 ‘Wattle Day’, Brisbane Courier, 21 Jun 1918, p. 7.