Just to add a little to Alan Gosley's view of the Canadian cycling scene, the other shop that imported "good" bikes was Bloor Cycles (no longer in business in its original guise) in Toronto, while in Vancouver we had Fred Deeley.
The latter had strong ties with the UK--first with motorcycles, later with cars--they did their best to fill Vancouver with the cast-offs of old Empire--Morris, Austin, etc. They also ran a good bike division, building on their ties with the motorcycle crowd, & did bring in quite a few UK marques including ?Raliegh, & ?Falcon, & challenged Bloor Cycles claim to be "national" distributors. (Deeley may have imported Peugeot into the local market, both as car and bikes but memory is hazy. A more unlikely adventure was when one of the local Volvo dealers began importing Crescents directly from Sweden and sponsored a racing team for a time,)
It was much more likely that a young Canadian racer C. 1968 would be riding on a Brit bike of some description (including Dawes (which I think was being imported by Bloor) than Italian--althoough we all lusted after Masi and Cinelli. Schwinn, for all its American dominance barely registered, & I never saw a high-end Paramount until we started racing south of the border
Vancouver was also fortunate to have Ace Cycles--run by Lorne Arkinson, a former Canadian Olympian, who was doing direct importing from France and was selling a lot of bikes by the mid '60s. I have no idea who the maker was for his house-branded "Olympic" bikes, but they were standard 60s French fare--Simplex, cottered cranks, even the slipping wing nuts. He also managed to stock Cinelli and high-end Brit bikes, but I don't know if the Cinellis came through Bloor or if he was buying those directly.
Norco started as a low-end wholesaler (Northern Cycle) in Vancouver assembling bike boom Japanese bikes to dodge import restrictions, and also importing and distributing packaged bike accessories and parts. When I worked for them c. 1973 they had already expanded to a national presence, selling packaged accessories and program bikes to everyone from independent dealers, hardware stores, the Co-ops in the prairies and especially by getting into the "Bay" (Hudson's Bay department stores) nationwide. Their quality range was wide--from the fairly awful to the 'high end" Japanese (which I believe were rebadged Fujis...) that were about at the quality level of a Peugeot UO-8--and later they brought in better Japanese bikes.
As far as Dawes, the only one I had direct experience with was owned by a friend--and yes it was decidedly inferior to the high end bikes--it was a "gas pipe" special....
Dean Kernan watching the "blizzard" in Pomona, New York