CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

The Bombardier winter workhorse is born

The Story

J. Armand Bombardier never intends his snowmobile invention to be fun. The first snowmobiles are large, multi-passenger vehicles designed to help people get around during the long winter months. Snowmobiles are used in rural Quebec to take children to school, carry freight, deliver mail or serve as ambulances. His invention serves a very real necessity and soon business is booming. In 1941 Armand opens a large new factory in Valcourt, Que. Then a major setback hits the growing business. The Second World War is well underway and the Canadian government issues wartime rationing regulations. Now Bombardier customers have to prove that snowmobiles are essential to their livelihood in order to buy one. To keep his business going Armand switches gears and develops vehicles for the military. After the war Armand experiences another setback in his snowmobile business. In 1948 the Quebec government passes a law requiring all highways and local roads to be cleared of snow; Bombardier sales fall by nearly half in one year. Armand decides to diversify his business and make all-terrain vehicles for the mining, oil and forestry industries.

Medium: Television
Approx. Broadcast date: Jan. 1, 1950
Duration: 0:44
This clip is silent.

Did You know?

• In 1940 a snowmobile cost about $1,000; the same price as a basic car at the time.
• J. Armand Bombardier built 1,900 tracked vehicles for the military during the Second World War. Bombardier developed a vehicle to carry troops in snowbound areas and another to move troops and equipment through the swamps of Italy and the South Pacific.



Bombardier: The Snowmobile Legacy more