Emil Kalbfleisch, inventor of a motor bicycle

It was on August 20, 1902 that the Stratford Beacon printed the following article about the man in the center of the picture, Emil Kalbfleisch. The title of the article was a motor bicycle. Emil Kalbfleisch of Kalbfleisch Bros. has constructed a motorbike, which is giving him, and his friends, considerable sport. 

The contrivance is a rather novel one, being the only one of its kind in the city and is a tribute to his engineering genius . With this wheel, It is possible to attain speeds up between 30 and 40 miles an hour. It is propelled by gasoline, and easy to manipulate. 

Photo: Emil Kalbfleisch, middle, 1902, on motorized gas bicycle he invented. Photo: Stratford-Perth Archives. 

Emil was born in Strafford in 1881 the son of Henry and Marie. He received his early education in the city, and then trained as a draftsman before leaving Stratford for Chicago where he was employed at the Aero Motor Company. Here he received valuable training as a mechanic, working as a tool maker, and doing experimental work. In 1900 he moved to Detroit to work as a draftsman for the Northway motor company.

On returning to Stratford, he opened a bicycle shop in partnership with his two brothers, Henry and George.  They later formed the firm of Kalbfleisch Brothers and operated an automobile sales and service, later taking over Stratford planing and lumber mill as well . He became president of the company and manager of the planing mill.  As a skilled mechanic himself, he was able to attract and retain good workmen, and it was said that a job turned out by the  Kalbfleisch planing mill was a job  well done.

 Emil was also an active member of the community. He played a major role in the formation of the Stratford figure skating club and was a valuable member of our Stratford Rotary club serving as Director and committee worker  He supervised the construction work of Kitchigami camp, the Rotary club summer camp for children on Lake Huron, and for many years was responsible for the erection of the booths for the Hallowe'en frolic, the organization's major fundraisers.

 In 1917 he married all of Olive Whealy and they had two children, a daughter, Marian, and son Karl. Emil died in 1954 at his residence at 234 Water St.  Source: Kate Jacob, Stratford-Perth Archives