Nfld. & Labrador

Archeologists discover Labrador's 1st snowmobile

A team of archeologists in Nunatsiavut say they've found Labrador's first snowmobile — and there are plans in the works to get it back up and running.

Labrador's first snowmobile

9 years ago
Duration 2:32
There are plans to revive a souped-up Model T Ford, reports Kate Adach

A team of archeologists in Nunatsiavut say they've found Labrador's first snowmobile  and there are plans in the works to get it back up and running.

The snowmobile is a nearly 100-year-old Ford Model T that was converted to ride through snow on skis. Chicago scientists used the makeshift snowmobile during an expedition to Labrador, and it was later abandoned in 1928.

"It's an amazing piece of Labrador history," said Jamie Brake, an archeologist in Nunatsiavut, on the north coast of Labrador.

Brake said the site and the snowmobile were vulnerable.

Archeologist Jamie Brake said they brought the snowmobile to Nain to preserve it and to get residents excited about their history. (CBC)
"We know that quite a number of pieces of it had gone missing over the years," he said. 

"We felt it was important to bring it to Nain, so it could be protected and used to give people a chance to learn about their history and to get people excited about their past."

Brake's team used modern snowmobiles to tow it to Nain, also on Labrador's north coast.

Restoring a piece of history

Now, the snowmobile is on display.

"It's the first time I've seen something that old... almost 100 years old," said Nain resident Elizabeth Kohlmeister.

The machine is in great shape for its old age — it still has its original engine and transmission.

"[It's] got a crank on the front of it that you would turn to get the engine started," Brake said.

Archeologist Jamie Brake said they took the Ford Model T snowmobile to Nain to preserve and restore it. (CBC)
The plan now is to get the makeshift snowmobile restored, and in a couple of years, it could be driving around town.

"This is absolutely restorable and we can — it's totally in the realm of possibility to get this thing running again," Brake said.

"I think people would be pretty excited about their history and heritage if they were seeing this, the original snowmobile, in Labrador, driving around."

Susan Kaplan, an anthropology professor with Bowdoin College, said it's an exciting find.

"It's going to have a new life, new meaning," she said.

"It's bringing it into the 21st century where it still has a life."


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