Column: The machines that moved us, from the Bombardier B7 to the Honda ATC

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

Through anguish and desperation, and the loss of his two-year old child after not reaching a hospital in time, Quebec mechanic and inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier, in 1934, set out to design a vehicle that could travel on snow.

So in 1937, Bombardier made the B7, a seven-person wooden vehicle with tracks on the back and skis up front. Four years later, he designed and built the B12. First buyers were doctors and ambulance drivers going to remote locations. While production stopped in 1951, many are still in use today by commercial fishermen in Manitoba and elsewhere.

Through the years, Bombardier, with their industrial snow groomers and powerful sleds and quads, made their mark in Canadian history.

There was a time when anglers roared up to their fishing spots in a noisy outboard, threw out an anchor and baited up with gas and/or oil on their hands. That is until in 1934, when O.G. Schmidt of Fargo, North Dakota, connected a shaft/propeller to a Ford Model A starter motor. Since then, Schmidt’s company, Minn Kota and others have truly excelled with improvements to the angler’s silent friend, the electric trolling motor.

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These motors now come with foot controls and wireless remote. Built-in transducers allow a view of the bottom. There are GPS enabled anchors hold your boat in position despite wind and current.Thank you, Mr. Schmidt.

Long before we had the Big bear, Ranger, Moto-4 or Quadrunner, and even before we had the three-wheel Big Red, there was the Honda all-terrain cycle, 90 or ATC 90 – a bike with stable riding and a bulletproof 7-horsepower engine that fit in the trunk of a car. With three balloon tires, it was unlike anything the outdoor world had seen before. It rolled off the assembly line in 1969, changing the woods forever for trappers and hunters and, once a milk crate was strapped on, it became a workhorse around the farm.

It wasn’t long before machines like the ATC 90 evolved into the modern-day ATV. Today, machines with as high as 800cc do a multitude of jobs besides serving the recreational rider. Fishery officers and game wardens of yesteryear would be amazed at the modern electronics in trucks CO’s drive with today, the GPS units, etc. Times have changed. Hopefully we can change what we do to Mother Earth while looking back on things that were!

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