Two days before the Olympic torch is lit in Athens, workers at one of Bombardier’s Montreal facilities are busy churning out the torches that will carry the flame to Vancouver in time for the 2010 Winter Games.
So far, about half of the 12,000 torches required for the Olympic relay have been completed.
The precise location of the plant is being kept a secret, but the torch has been a source of pride for the 50 workers involved in the process — who are used to making airplanes.
Bombardier Inc. began designing the torch back in 2007.
"We understood [in the] first minute they want this torch to be very special and I think we [succeeded]," said designer Daniel Deschênes.
The challenge was to build a design that could stand winds up to 60 km/h and temperatures ranging from –40 to 40 C. The flame must also be able to withstand heavy rain or snow.
The torch is made from anodized aluminum, stainless steel and a composite compound.
The metre-long design resembles a snow drift, with a Canadian flag as the air intake. The flame burns over a 15-centimetre surface.
Every two minutes, a team of four workers turns out another torch. Still, the relay race will have begun before the last torch is made.
Workers sign each torch before it is completed.
"I’m walking on clouds as the Olympics approach and the emotions are starting," said Jean-Francois Clusilu, the torch assembly manager.
Each torch is 95 per cent made in Canada, said engineer Bruno Comptois.
When the relay begins, Comptois said he will bring his children out to watch.
"We designed it to be embraced by Canadians and put Canada into it. I hope they feel the same pride we do."
The Olympic flame is expected to make its way to Canada on Oct. 30.
For the following 106 days, the flame will travel 45,000 km around the country by foot, canoe, snowshoe and skis.