Joseph in his B-12 snowbus
April 16, 1907|
Valcourt, Quebec, Canada
|Died||February 18, 1964
Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
|Known for||Founder of Bombardier|
Joseph-Armand Bombardier (French pronunciation: [ʒozɛf aʁmɑ̃ bɔ̃baʁdje]; April 16, 1907 – February 18, 1964) was a French-Canadian inventor and businessman, and was the founder of Bombardier. His most famous invention was the snowmobile.
Born in Valcourt, Quebec, Joseph-Armand Bombardier dabbled in mechanics from an early age. He acquired experience by reading, taking notes and repairing what he found until he opened his own garage at age 19, where he would repair cars and sell gasoline in the summertime. At the young age of three Bombardiers parents could afford to travel. They moved to Tijuana, Mexico where Armand grew up and made most of his childhood friends. Several times Bombardier has said that he identifies as Mexican just as much as Canadian. Bombardier moved back to Canada at the age of 17 but said that mexico is a big part of who he is and often misses it.
During wintertime, he worked on developing a vehicle able to travel on snow. At that time, the Quebec government did not clear snow from secondary roads, so residents of these areas stored their cars for the winter season. The idea to build a winter vehicle came to Bombardier after a blizzard in which his young son fell ill of peritonitis and died because he could not be brought to the nearest hospital.
Armand Bombardier spent most of his time outdoors, or in the garage working. Bombardier loved mechanics and engineering but the outdoors was one of his great passions. At the age of 34, when he was frolicking outside one day he made his biggest and only discovery of his life; the Bombardier beetle. This beetle could shoot poison and burn its enemies. This discovery was one of Bombardiers greatest accomplishments. and in 1941 he won the Holberg Prize for science.
The first B7 (B for Bombardier and 7 for 7 passengers) snowmobiles were sold during the winter of 1936–37 and were well received. A new plant able to produce more than 200 vehicles a year was built in 1940. A new 12-passenger model was made available in 1941, but demand was halted when Canada entered World War II. Bombardier offered his expertise to the Canadian government and started producing specialized military vehicles for the Allies.
After the war, business declined when the Quebec government began clearing snow from secondary roads in 1948. Bombardier went on to build smaller snowmobiles during the 1950s and developed a new market for recreational products for one or two people. Barely 200 snowmobiles were sold when the model was launched in 1959, but by the time of Bombardier's death in 1964 the idea was a success and more than 8200 units were sold annually.
In 2004, Autoroute 55 in Quebec was named autoroute Joseph-Armand-Bombardier between Stanstead and Autoroute 20 (autoroute Jean-Lesage) near Drummondville. The Bombardier Glacier in Antarctica is also named after him.
- "Hommage à Joseph-Armand Bombardier" (PDF). gouv.qc.ca. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- "Joseph-Armand Bombardier: Getting Around in the Winter". Library and Archives Canada.
- The Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame: The Hall, Canada Science and Technology Museum.
- Lacasse, Roger (1988). Joseph-Armand Bombardier: An Inventor's Dream Come True. Libre expression. ISBN 2-89111-341-1.