Honda in Canada

The Honda Motor Corporation Ltd. based in Japan, was founded in 1946 by Soichiro Honda.

In the field of motorcycle manufacturing, it is the largest public multinational corporation in the world. Since 1959 it has held the top position in the manufacturing of motorcycles and internal combustion engines.

In 1946, Japan was trying to rebuild from the effects of the Second World War.

Honda, a talented mechanic began manufacturing piston rings before turning his attention to motorcycles. He had realized that there was a need for an affordable means of transportation and began grafting war surplus two stroke motors into bicycles. The initial shaky start due to his lack of training in metallurgy in the production of piston rings gave way to his passion for engineering.

The first motorcycle that featured a completely Honda designed motor and frame was produced in 1949. By the 1960’s his motorcycles were up against the best on the racetracks of the world.   

Figure 1 - Honda's 1st Prototype

Figure 2 - Honda's First Motorcycle, 1949, Model D

Honda ventured into the Canadian history books in 1969. With hard work and perseverance they slowly gained the trust of Canadians. Over a period of time Honda gained respect in the marketplace as well. In 1986, Honda built a car manufacturing facility in Alliston, Ontario. In 1998 a second plant was built at the same site and in 2008 Honda completed its third manufacturing facility. On May 2010, Honda Canada moved to their new Gold Certified Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Head Office in Markham, Ontario which is now home to approximately 600 associates. Today Honda employs almost 19,000 Canadians and buys goods worth 1.1 billion from Canadian suppliers!

Honda has turned its vision towards providing a sustainable growth for the future. Blue Skies for Our Children embodies the vision of keeping the environment in mind for the future generations so that they might find the joy of free mobility along with sustained development. The challenge of sustained development encompasses numerous energy and environmental issues. The most important amongst them has been the reduction of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. In June 2011, Honda pledged to reduce CO2 emissions from automobiles, motorcycles and corporate activities by 30% by 2020. There have been significant advances towards achieving this end. These technologies include natural gas vehicles, hybrids, fuel cell electric along with new energy creation and distribution technologies like Honda’s original solar cell.

A socially responsible and engaged corporation, Honda Canada started the Honda Canada Foundation to enhance the social well being of Canadians. The focus of the foundation is to provide grants in the areas of education, engineering, the environment and safety with a focus on youth.

Even back in the beginning of its emergence in the UA and Canadian cultures, Honda showed its social responsibility in other ways. They had a rider’s manual that explained the operation of their motorcycle and asked people to be socially respectful.

Image 3 - 1962 Honda Owners Manual

One of the most successful marketing campaigns in history started in the US. Honda had suffered a number of recalls, and the owner of the first Honda store in California, Kihachiro Kawashima, had to take back every bike he had sold. He had a bunch of 50cc scooters in the back of the shop and decided to get them out on the sales floor. 

His ad campaign “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” saved the American market and paved the way for the Canadian market to have a successful launch. 
Image 4 - Honda's Ad campaign in the 60's
Although Honda has a varied stable of machines, the CBR and the Goldwing, two very different machines, are probably the best known of all of Honda's motorcycles.

The CBR is dubbed by Honda as the ultimate handling machine and many a CBR rider will tell you that is so, however GSXR riders will tell you something quite different!

Today, Honda Canada plays a big roll in all manners of racing and their motorcycles are well respected for their reliability, their socially responsible exhaust systems, their power and fuel economy.

I hope you enjoyed the brief look into Honda Canada, next up we look at Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki!

Research for this article:
Honda Canada
Honda Canada Foundation
Petrolicious Productions


image 2- a 1949 Model D (Dream)

Image 3 - 1962 Honda Owners Manual - Image 4


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  1. Honda were in Canada from about 1962 with the first C100 Super Cub imports.