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J. Armand Bombardier

AKA Joseph-Armand Bombardier

Born: 16-Apr-1907
Birthplace: Valcourt, Quebec, Canada
Died: 18-Feb-1964
Location of death: Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Valcourt Cemetery, Valcourt, Quebec, Canada

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Inventor

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Founder of Bombardier

J. Armand Bombardier was a tinkerer as a boy, building complex mechanical toy tractors and boats, and at the age of 12 he re-engineered a pistol into a miniature cannon. At 15 he built the first prototype of his most famous invention, the snowmobile, with a propeller powered by an engine from a used Ford powering a four-sled vehicle steered by rope. At 17 he quit school to work in a garage, and with funds borrowed from his father he opened his own workshop and garage when he was 19. With the garage taking most of his time and energy, several years passed before his second prototype snowmobile was ready, in 1933, but it remained impractical.

Tragedy struck the following winter, when Bombardier's young son was stricken with peritonitis and died during the frozen winter before his parents could reach medical help. As father and inventor, Bombardier's passion was reignited, with the very personal knowledge that mobility in snow and ice is a matter of life and death for people living in harsh, northern climes. By the winter of 1935 he had perfected an early version of a sprocket and track drive system that made the snowmobile practical, though the design was enormous in comparison to present-day snowmobiles, more the size of a truck or a bus.

He received his patent in 1937, and after several years of effort to secure funding, he founded L'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitee (now Bombardier Ltd) in 1942 to manufacture a 12-passenger snowmobile. In the company's early years, virtually all of its sales were to government, police, and commercial customers, and later models were popular with doctors, innkeepers, and shipping companies. In 1959 the company introduced the Ski-Doo 2, described in promotional materials as a "miniature snowmobile", which was the first snowmobile small and affordable enough to make recreational snowmobiling feasible for the non-wealthy. J. Armand Bombardier died in 1964, and the company he founded is now a major manufacturer of aircraft, trains, and light-rail transit.

Father: Alfred Bombardier (grocer)
Mother: Anna Gravel Bombardier
Wife: Yvonne Labrecque Bombardier (m. 1929)
Son: Yvon Bombardier (d. 1934)
Son: Germain Bombardier (Bombardier executive)

    High School: Séminaire Saint-Charles-Borromée, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada (dropped out)

    Bombardier Founder and President (1942-64)
    Canadian Business Hall of Fame
    Knights of Columbus
    Canadian Ancestry


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