By Denise Bacon

Summer often meant a visit to the Bike Man on Centennial Road for many residents in Centennial. Joe Schmidt, lovingly known as the Bike Man to kids and grownups alike, tuned up and repaired bikes at his home for about 20 years after retirement until the progression of his Parkinson’s Disease got in his way approximately eight years ago. Joe passed away on October 29, 2021.

Joe married his beloved wife, Helen, in 1961 and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year. They met while out dancing in 1959 and Helen blushingly said it was love at first sight. Helen and Joe had a loving partnership over the years and this led to their “business partnership” when the Bike Man business started about 30 years ago.

Joe was an auto mechanic by trade, and he worked in several garages over the years, including working as a mechanic for Consumers Gas, predecessor to Enbridge. Joe’s work career veered to meter reading for big buildings, which became the genesis for the Bike Man. Joe would often see bikes discarded behind buildings or in dumpsters and he thought that was a terrible waste. He felt that these bikes could be repaired and given more life.

Once Joe retired from his full-time job, he started picking up discarded bikes and buying old bikes at garage sales. His mechanical aptitude and love of working with his hands easily transferred to renewing and repairing bikes and the Bike Man was born. The business was registered and Helen made sure that all the paperwork was up to date for parts purchases and sales and that taxes were paid every year.

As the business took hold, Joe soon became an icon on Centennial Road. Neighbours will remember seeing bikes lined up against Joe’s fence and in front of his home. Meeting people and fixing up bikes to make them happy became a passion for Joe. He would comment on how kids had grown year over year as they brought in their bikes to the Bike Man, a trait that endeared him to his customers.

Joe had a rich life of travel with Helen and his family around North America and Europe and the memories he created will be his legacy. Joe’s other passion was the Danube Swabian Klub, which became the Blue Danube Club, where he had first met Helen. Joe was highly involved with the Klub where he rose to President for many years. As President, Joe took on the role of “Mayor” during Caravan, the Toronto annual festival of past years. He would preside over more than 50 pavilions and enjoy his stage time, singing in front of crowds. The “Mayor” would crown Miss Caravan at the end of the festival at a ball at the Royal York. Those were wonderful times for Joe.

As the Parkinson’s contributed to Joe’s physical limitations, he never complained, said Helen. He did his best right to the point where he couldn’t do more.

Joe Schmid, the Centennial community shares in the loss of your passing. Rest in peace, Bike Man.