The Snowmobile – A Canadian Invention
Snowmobiling has been both a “way of life” and a winter sport for many Canadians since Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented the first “snow machine”. In 1922, when he was only 15, his father gave him an old Model “T” Ford. Bombardier removed the motor and attached it to the framework of a typical four-passenger sleigh — the usual mode of transportation for French-Canadian families during Quebec’s severe winters. He installed a huge wooden aeroplane propeller on the drive shaft behind the transmission. Then, using four sleigh runners to glide across the snow, he drove this “strange mechanical animal” through the main street of his hometown village.
By 1935 J.-Armand Bombardier had designed and built a rubber-cushioned, sprocket wheel-track system that made possible full-scale production of multi passenger snow vehicles. By 1937 he had introduced his principle of steering by skis in front of a tracked drive. On June 29, 1937, he was granted his first patent. He quickly put up a sign on his garage —“L’Auto-Neige Bombardier” — and went into business. Success was inevitable and immediate. We all know where this Canadian invention has gone since – basically everywhere that snow exists – worldwide – and there are almost three million snowmobiles registered worldwide! Thank you Joseph-Armand Bombardier!
Snowmobiling Quick Facts
- There are four major manufacturers that build snowmobiles. They are: Arctic Cat – headquartered in Plymouth, MN; BRP – headquartered in Valcourt, Quebec; Polaris Industries – headquartered in Medina, MN; and Yamaha Motor Corporation – headquartered in Cypress, CA.
- In 2015 there were 150,713 snowmobiles sold worldwide; 58,299 were sold in the U.S. and 50,752 were sold in Canada.
- There are 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the US and over 600,000 registered snowmobiles in Canada.
- The Economic Impact of Snowmobiling:
- * United States – $26 billion annually *
- Canada – $8 billion annually *
- Europe & Russia – $5 billion annually
- Over 100,000 full time jobs are generated by the snowmobile industry in North America. Those jobs are involved in manufacturing, dealerships and tourism related businesses.
- The average age of a snowmobiler is 44 years old.
- The average snowmobiler rides their snowmobile 1520 miles (2900 km) per year in North America.
- Fifty three percent (53%) of the snowmobilers usually trailer their snowmobiles to go riding. Forty seven percent (47%) either snowmobile from their primary residence or have a vacation home where they keep and use their snowmobiles.
- Snowmobilers are caring neighbors; they raised over $3 million for charity annually.
- There are over 225,000 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails in North America that have been developed by volunteer clubs working with local government and private land owners.
- There are over 3000 snowmobile clubs worldwide, involved in trail grooming and charity fund raising and family activities.
- There are over 42 registered non-profit associations representing snowmobilers in the U.S., Canada and Scandinavia.
- Snowmobiling is great exercise that brings people outdoors to interact with nature and each other. It is an invigorating sport that is great for stress release and good mental health.
- Snowmobiling is a great family lifestyle. It is an activity that keeps parents and kids together. Historically individuals who snowmobile at a young age continue to snowmobile with their parents throughout their lives, sharing great experiences as a family. In many winter regions, snowmobiling is simply the main form of winter outdoor recreation and in some cases the main method of transportation available.
- The manufacturers have always been actively involved in promoting safe riding behavior while snowmobiling. Over one million safety related brochures, decals and hundreds of thousands of posters and safety videos have been distributed free of charge to safety trainers, enforcement officers, Travel Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, and snowmobile enthusiasts throughout the world.
Reproduced from ISMA website, 2015