Remembering a Motosport Legend

May 30, 2017

Remembering a Motosport Legend

This week, MITT will host a celebration of life for the late Joe Sawtus.

Joe was a North End icon, a pioneer of motorsport in Manitoba, and a generous friend of MITT. In spring 2016, Joe and his family launched the Joe Sawtus and Canadian Motorcycle Bursary to benefit students of MITT’s Motosport Technician program. In October of that same year, MITT had the good fortune of hosting Joe and his family in the Motosport shop, where he presented a cheque for nearly $15,000 to MITT in support of his bursary. Then, as he was throughout his life, Joe was a magnet for people who shared his passion for motorbikes and racing. At the event, countless friends and former patrons of Joe’s Canadian Motorcycle Shop – including Motosport Technician instructor Geoff Ives – reflected on how their first encounters with Joe ignited their own lifelong passion for motosport. Thank you, Joe, for your generosity of wisdom and spirit.

With permission from Joe’s family, we have included his official memorial below.

JOSEPH SAWTUS It is with deep sadness we announce that our uncle and friend to many, Joe Sawtus, passed away suddenly, but peacefully, on April 21, 2017 at the age of 83. Joe will be greatly missed by his nieces Judy Mathieson and her family in Winnipeg, June Atwood and her family in Campbell River, BC, Connie Clements and her family in Prince George, BC, and Terry Boekenkruger and her family in Ladysmith, BC. Joe was predeceased by his niece Barbara Van Wageningen in Halifax, NS. Joe was also predeceased by brothers Wasyl (Bill) and John, and sisters Mary Shewchuk (Vancouver) and Jean Gibbings (Winnipeg). Joe's passion was motorsports. Owner of the iconic Canadian Motorcycle Sales at 981 Main Street, Joe was a legend. His accomplishments in wrestling and motorcycle racing are well-known. Joe attended school in Brooklands (now Tyndall Park) and St. Boniface, before graduating from Tec Voc in 1951. Joe lost his father to a heart attack at a young age. Fortunately, his older brother Bill became his mentor, guiding him through the next few years of his youth, encouraging him to graduate from high school. Bill was also a tremendous influence in Joe's racing and business. Joe had a very special bond with his brother and will be interred alongside Bill at Brookside Cemetery. Alzheimer's eventually forced Joe from the business he loved for over 50 years, into care. The shop was his life and he loved what he did. Joe's life also included helping others in so many different ways. Joe finally accepted his retirement when he moved to Holy Family Home in November, 2016. He was contented. Thank you to all who helped with the Canadian closing and who visited Joe this past year and a half. Special thanks to his long-time friend Alf Kollinger for leading the shop closing effort. Special thanks also to his good friend Don Kupchuk, for comforting Joe as he passed away. Sincere thanks is also extended to all of Joe's compassionate caregivers at Poseidon Care and at Holy Family Home. Joe was always treated with dignity and respect as a resident. Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Joe's life will be held on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at "The Delta's Room", Manitoba Institute of Trades & Technology, 130 Henlow Bay, Winnipeg. The service will start at 7:00 p.m. There is ample parking available for bikes. Donations in Joe's memory may be made to the Joe Sawtus and Canadian Motorcycle Bursary Fund at MITT, the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba (, Holy Family Home (; or the charity of your choice. 

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