Most innovations in transportation have been adapted to recreation, eg, the bicycle, boat and car, and widespread use of the snowmobile was a logical development in Canada. Over snow-covered ground it provides transportation previously impossible except on skis, snowshoes or dogsled. It has provided a means for Canadians to enjoy winter in an unprecedented way and has enabled year-round use of recreational facilities such as cottages. Unlike other recreation equipment, ownership of snowmobiles is more heavily rural than urban, since the vehicle is very useful in farm work. A small number of vehicles are used for racing, but the main attraction seems to be enjoyment of the outdoors and socializing; there are an estimated 10 000 clubs in North America.
The explosion of snowmobiling brought serious concerns, particularly in the early years, about noise disturbance, ecological damage and safety (100 deaths in 1970). The snowmobile was misused for vandalism, habitat destruction and chasing game. By 1972 all provinces except PEI had legislation governing and restricting the use of snowmobiles. The provision of extensive trails, notably in Québec, overcame many of the objections. Although other forms of winter recreation, such as CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING, gained in popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, snowmobiling remains popular in North America. In the North the snowmobile has changed the hunting, herding and trapping patterns of the Inuit, although dogsleds continue to be used in extreme conditions.
Author CHRIS DEBRESSON
Links to Other Sites
A profile of Armand Bombardier from the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.
J. Armand Bombardier Museum
This multimedia online museum features a detailed biography of J A Bombardier and explores the history of the snowmobile industry in Canada.
Watch the Heritage Minute about Joseph-Armand Bombardier from the Historica-Dominion Institute. See also related online learning resources.
Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations
This site highlights events and programs offered by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. See also "hand signals", "ice thickness chart", and related saftey information.
Watch a vintage video clip featuring Stompin' Tom Connors performing his "Snowmobile Song." From YouTube.
View a video clip of a restored Snowbug in operation. From YouTube.
View a photogallery of vintage snowmobiles from the website for the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association.
Bombardier Snowmobile B-12
View a short video clip of a 1948 Bombardier Snowmobile B-12 in motion. From YouTube.
RMR: Rick and Snowmobile Races
Watch a video of Rick Mercer racing a vintage snowmobile in Kincardine, Ontario. From YouTube.