J.-Armand Bombardier 1907–1964
From the time I was young, I dreamed of inventing a machine that would conquer the snow. In those days, of course, there were no snow ploughs in rural areas, so when winter set in, people were trapped. Farmers couldn't get outside to save stranded cattle; police cars, ambulances and fire trucks couldn't get through the drifts; people even had difficulty getting such basics as mail and food supplies.
I used to experiment at home, so when I was 15 my father gave me an old Model-T Ford to divert my attention from the family car. I promptly removed the engine, bolted it to a modified sleigh frame and attached a hand-whittled propeller to the motor's drive shaft. I had built my first snowmobile. Unfortunately, the experiment went no further. Shortly after its first successful test run, my father forced me to dismantle the machine, fearing that the open propeller would decapitate one of my brothers or sisters.
My parents wanted me to become a priest, and although I did well at the seminary, I never stopped thinking about my machines. After three years of Latin, ancient Greek and mathematics, my father agreed to let me leave and study to become a mechanic. I eventually opened a small garage in Valcourt, Quebec that grew to be one of Canada's greatest industrial successes. In it, I invented the drive device that revolutionized travel in snow and swamps. I built a series of vehicles with uses ranging from oil exploration to logging, and I developed the Ski-Doo™, a vehicle which has changed the lives of people living in cold climates.Back to top