She Saved for Three Years in 1949 to Buy Her Used 1948 Harley Davidson
Jackie spent the following three years saving up enough money to buy a second hand bike, a 1948 Harley Davidson 45 (cubic inches) at a cost of around $175.00. When she arrived home with the bike, she remembers gazing at the bike in the moonlight from her bedroom window, wondering if she’d be able to start it the next morning. In those days you needed a strong right leg and the proper technique to turn the motor over. She did get it started, took off and began discovering what an unusual sight a motorcycle riding woman was.
In the summer of 1949, when Canadian Jackie Macdonald was 16, a friend talked her into going for a ride on his motorcycle. For Jackie, it was love at first ride—she then talked him into teaching her how to ride. Two or three times they went to High Park in Toronto and she tried out the bike. That was all the instruction Jackie ever had, but since a licence to drive a car, which Jackie possessed, was also valid for a motorcycle back then, she could ride the motorcycle legally.
Jackie was often stopped by the police in fact practically every time she went out on the bike. One incident she remembers fondly was when riding South on Avenue Road just past Eglington, she was pulled over by a cop and as he approached, said “You’re going pretty fast, I clocked you at …” (she forgets the speed). He then asked her in a very gruff voice, “You got a driver’s licence?” She took it out and gave it to him. He looked at it and said “You got a permit?” She took that out and presented it to him. He glanced at it and growled, “You got a job?” Jackie then replied in the prissiest voice she could muster, “Yes, I teach school for the Toronto Board of Education.” He then went around to the back of the bike, to take her licence number—after taking some time he said “We had better just forget this”. When Jackie asked him why, he replied, “If I went in and asked for a speeding ticket to be issued to a woman school teacher driving a Harley Davidson, the boys would laugh me out of the station.” Instead of leaving, he continued chatting with Jackie; his gruff voice softened and he finished the conversation by asking her out on a date.
Jackie presently resides in Ottawa and has proceeded to enjoy a most accomplished life in sports—with a long list of achievements both at the Olympic and world record breaking levels in shot put and discus. Since 1978 a member of Ottawa’s Bicycle Club—Jackie remains active to this day now at over age 70 swimming, cycling and weight lifting.
*story contribution by Jackie MacDonald