THE CANADIAN FRENCH-SPEAKING WORLD and some of the people who have contributed to its greatness



Joseph-Armand Bombardier

Date of birth:
April 16, 1907

Place of birth:



Historical Site:
Museum in Valcourt

Photo : Musée Joseph-Armand Bombardier

















Joseph-Armand Bombardier was the eldest of eight children. His parents, Anna Gravel and Alfred Bombardier, farmed and also ran the general store. Joseph-Armand early showed a definite talent for mechanics and a great passion for machines. He had all the tools he needed to make his talent bloom. At 15, he assembled his first snowmobile, propelled by a wooden propeller that threatened to decapitate passers-by at any moment. In 1926, he became a garage mechanic in Valcourt. He immediately grasped the operation of complex machinery. His reputation spread around the Eastern Townships and people came from afar to consult him. On August 7, 1929, he married Yvonne Labrecque, with whom he had six children.

In his spare time, he devoted himself to research, for he had one obsession: to built a vehicle that could conquer winter storms and so end the isolation of rural communities. In 1937, after years of effort and persistence, Bombardier produced a seven-passenger transporter (B-7) and obtained a patent for his tracked drive system that henceforth equipped all his vehicles. In 1940, the military took an interest in his B7 snowmobile which was capable of moving troops over ice, sand and swamps. He produced several hundred of them but did not receive royalties as the inventor, since Ottawa apparently considered that production as his contribution to the war effort. In 1942, he launched the B12 model. Modernized, it was furnished with an independent suspension on each axle. That year, the inventor incorporated himself and founded Auto-Neige Bombardier Inc. In 1948, Bombardier decided to build all-terrain vehicles for the exploration industries. The end of the 1950s saw the culmination of his work on the development of a small individual vehicle: the Ski-Dog, better known under the name of Ski-Doo (snowmobile) because of a printing error in the documentation given to the distributors.

With that invention, Joseph-Armand Bombardier solved the problem of individual transportation on snow in remote areas and gave birth to a new industry. Ten years after his death, more than a million Ski-Doos crisscross the fields and forests of the world. A great visionary, he laid the foundations of an empire, the Bombardier Corporation. This is a Quebec firm of international scope and one of the largest Canadian manufacturers. Its areas of activity are diversified (recreational products, railway transport, aeronautics, capital and services). Bombardier has a presence in more than 80 countries and employs nearly 47,000 people.