Monday, 1 May 2017


Joseph-Armand Bombardier was a mechanic in Quebec who dreamed of a vehicle that could float on snow. He began working on prototypes in the 1930’s and after selling 12 of his vehicles he began L’Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitee (Bombardier Snow Car Limited) in the early 1940’s. His business was booming in the rural areas of Quebec where long winters left huge amounts of snow on the ground. However at the start of WWII the government of Canada issued rationing regulations and customers had to prove that these snowmobiles were a necessity to their livelihood. To combat this set back Bombardier began to develop snowmobiles for the military that were lighter and faster than current models.

Bombardier Logo
Bombardier Logo
Fast forward to the late 1950’s and an early representation of the modern “ski-doo” was created. A funny little side story is that the original name was actually meant to be “Ski-dog” (as it was to replace sled dogs) but a painter misinterpreted the name and painted “Ski-doo” instead. In the first year they sold over 800 units and quadrupled that within 4 years. The company was outselling and outpacing Arctic Cat and Polaris and scooped up a local competitor Moto-Ski in the 1970’s.

Bombardier is more than just snowmobiles however, in 1986 Bombardier acquired Canadair from the Canadian government and after 3 years returned it to profitability. They then began to purchase other failing properties like Learjet (which still operates as a subsidiary), Short Brothers and de Havilland Canada. Bombardier is famous for its C series airplanes which were introduced in the early 1990’s and 2000’s and are still operational today.
By New Brunswick Tourism (Winter in New Brunswick  Uploaded by Skeezix1000) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, Bombardier is more than planes and is a large player in the railway sector as well. In the 1970’s Bombardier acquired Lohner-Rotax, an Austrian company which was a manufacturer of snowmobile engines and tramways. The purchase appeared to suit their interests in snowmobile engines but would reveal itself to be far more valuable in the mid 1990’s when Bombardier purchased patents and designs from a handful of companies in the railway sector. The biggest move made was in 2001 when Bombardier acquired Adtranz from DaimlerChrylser and became the largest manufacturer of railway vehicles in the world.

Bombardier has grown significantly from it's early days in Quebec and has blossomed into an industry leader globally. That paired with the credit of creating a new winter recreational sport is something all Canadians can be proud of.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here


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