Some Fun Snowmobile History

They say knowledge is power.  How about horsepower?  Here is a deeper look into the sport of snowmobiling, with a little history lesson along the way. Be prepared to see these trivia facts on our next BCSF Quiz.  Enjoy!

  • Snowmobiling generates over $8 billion in annual spending across Canada and is responsible for over 100,000 full time jobs in North America
  • Early in the winter of 1922, fifteen year old J. Armand Bombardier designed a wind driven sleigh with a Model T engine. This was to be the first of many snowmobiles designed by Bombardier.
  • One of the most amazing snowmobiles was hand built in 1924 in Sayner, Wisconsin by Carl Eliason.  It was called a "motor toboggan".
  • In the 1940s, J. Armand Bombardier opened his snowmobile manufacturing company, the aptly named Bombardier. It was a success, acting as one of the leader’s in snowmobile innovation throughout the 20th century.
  • The 1950s saw the creation of the first Canadian single-track snowmobile. Designed by Allister and George Ingham, it would spur on the establishment of Saskatchewan’s Ingham Motor Toboggan, a company which would last from 1950 to 1963.
  • Polaris was founded in 1954 in Roseau, Minn. Edgar Heteen, David Johnson and Edgar’s brother Allan were the original partners in Polaris. 
  • After a controversial promotional tour across Alaska, Ed Heteen left Polaris in 1960 and founded Arctic Enterprises, which would eventually become one of Polaris' major rivals, Arctic Cat.
  • Yamaha first bought a snowmobile made by the Canadian company Bombardier as a sample and initiated development after thoroughly disassembling and studying it. The company completed a prototype of the YX15 in the summer of 1965.
  • In 1972, Arctic Cat released the first kids’ snowmobile, the Kitty Cat.
  • A Wyoming study (Ward 1980) fitted elk with heart rate monitors and determined that ‘elk responded most strongly to sonic booms, gunshots, and people on foot. Elk seldom reacted when approached by an OSV.’
  • The BC Snowmobile Federation was formed in 1965 by a small group of snowmobile racers.  The original purposes as set out in the BCSF constitution was to develop an organization that was dedicated to safety, the growth of the sport, protection of the environment and securing access to public lands for all. 
  • Although Snowbike popularity went though the roof in 2010, you could say that the first snow-bike was created in 2001, with the SnowHawk


We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into snowmobile history!  Thank you to the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations, and our fabulous four manufacturers for this great lesson in history.  To learn more about snowmobile history you can visit the links below. 

CCSO Facts and Myths about Snowmobiling

SnoRiders West Magazine Carving a timeline of Snowmobile History

History of the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation