Monday, December 17, 2007

Every chance that I take, I take it on the road

Here's a picture of a vintage Bombadier B-12 snowmobile taken in 1951 or 1952.

Joseph-Armand Bombardier was a Quebecois mechanic who built his first practical snowmobile in 1937, having designed a revolutionary drive system that could handle snowy, icy, or swampy conditions. The Bombardier snowmobiles could take several people for long distances and were used throughout Quebec to deliver mail, transport school children, and to fill other basic needs. After Quebec made it law that all roads had to be quickly cleared of snow, Bombardier diversified and built snowmobiles for mining and forestry use. In the late 50s, Bombadier developed the lightweight model the Ski-Doo, which was very popular, and his company L'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée became a leader in lightweight personal snowmobiles. He died in 1964.

His successors diversified the company greatly. Bombardier still makes snowmobiles, as well as jet aircraft, subway cars, light rail trains, and until recent years was a major defense contractor. There is also a Bombardier Museum in Valcourt, Quebec. Incidentally, a working Bombardier B-12 can be seen in the David Cronenberg's film of Naked Lunch, which is set in the 1950s. Cronenberg said that he always wanted to put the Bombardier in a film because he considers the vehicle to be a Canadian classic.

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