Ski-dog Snowmobile

A young Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented this iconic winter vehicle.

Written by Anne-Gaëlle Weber

Posted February 16, 2023

Joseph-Armand Bombardier, who lived from 1907 to 1964, is one of the best-known French-Canadian entrepreneurs and industrialists. Besides inventing original and functional machines, he also came up with the mechanical tools to manufacture them. His success transformed his company from a small family workshop in Valcourt, Quebec, to a publicly-traded multi-national corporation.

It was in 1959 that Bombardier marketed its very first snowmobile. The product, initially baptized Ski-Dog in reference to sleds pulled by huskies, is known today as Skidoo, due to a printing error.

Before mass-producing his snowmobile, Bombardier had it tested by Ojibwe drivers from the village of Lansdowne House in northern Ontario. This new vehicle radically transformed transportation and winter recreation in the snowiest regions of the world.

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This object resides at the J. Armand Bombardier Museum on Ingenuity.

This article originally appeared in Cinquante Merveilles de nos musées: les plus beaux trésors de la Francophonie Canadienne. The special interest publication was part of Projet Portage, a five-year initiative to connect history lovers in French and English Canada, generously supported by the Molson Foundation.

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