________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 10 . . . . January 11, 2008


Snowmobile Adventures: The Incredible Canadian Success Story from Bombardier to the Villeneuves. (Amazing Stories).

Linda Aksomitis.
Canmore, AB: Altitude Publishing, 2003.
128 pp. pbk. $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-551539-54-6.

Subject Headings:

Grades 5-11 / Ages 10-16.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

**½  /4


DuHamel had considerable competition when he hit the snowmobile racetrack late in 1969, considering his snowmobiling to date had been on a dirt track, not snow or ice. Local manufacturer Skiroule, out of Wickham, Quebec, had a 16-man racing team. Moto-Ski, in La Pocatier, Quebec, was developing a strong line of sleds and drivers. Teams from the United States were also gathering momentum for a big season of winning and selling: Alouette, Rupp, Scorpion, Sno-Jet, AMF Ski-Daddler, along with Arctic and Polaris all had factory-supported drivers.


Snowmobile Adventures serves a dual purpose: to outline the history of the snowmobile in Canada, and to highlight the careers of three acclaimed Quebec snowmobile racing stars of the 1970s.

      Joseph-Armand Bombardier is credited with invention of the snowmobile in Canada, but a couple of American inventors patented early “motor toboggans” prior to him. Bombardier’s dream of making rural areas safe and accessible during snowy winters drove his invention of snow machines that can travel over snow instead of through it. Initially, his focus was upon multi-passenger vehicles, but he began to mass-produce a small snow machine, the “Ski-Doo” in 1959. A new era of snowmobiling had arrived. The Bombardier firm sponsored a successful expedition to the North Pole in 1968. Manufacturers also began to sponsor racing teams that appealed to racing enthusiasts and served an important marketing tool for their commercial models.

     The second half of the book tells the stories of snowmobile racing champions Yvan DuHamel, and brothers Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve. Accounts of their travels around North America to important competitions is a bit tedious but does capture something of the excitement of racing and the personal sacrifice of drivers who were away from their families for long periods of time. The importance of mechanical innovations and the challenges of keeping the machines working becomes apparent.

     Aksomitis is well-positioned to write this book as she is former racer, dedicated snowmobile enthusiast and writer of articles and a co-author of Illustrated Guide to Snowmobile Racing. There are lots of references to mechanical and technical terms that will require a certain level of mechanical knowledge and interest for full appreciation since no glossary is provided. A couple of brief excerpts will illustrate:

As a result of the war years, future Bombardier machines incorporated four important patented innovations: wheel mounting, the traction device, the vehicle spring suspension, and the rubberized sprocket wheel.

Between heats, the [Villeneuve] brothers wrenched madly, sliding gears, chain case and all, off the sleds and replacing them with ones in a different ratio. Finally, they were happy – the acceleration and top speed matched the track exactly.

     The book includes seven appropriate black and white photographs courtesy of the Musée J.-Armand Bombardier, Valcourt, Québec, and a bibliography containing six titles. Sub-headings are used effectively to break the chapters into distinct parts. Measurements are usually given in the metric system or imperial with metric equivalents.


Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. He says, “One February day in 1985, I emerged from the train at Moosonee, ON., ready for two weeks of practice teaching, and encountered a line of snowmobiles awaiting passengers. These practical machines outnumbered the trucks and cars.”

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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