60 Years of Snowmobiling in Sudbury with the Snowbug
Howard Schraeder with Snowbug

Howard Schraeder with his original Snowbug.

Sixty years ago in the winter of 1957, Howard Schraeder produced his first Snowbug. This was fully a year before Armand Bombardier made his first Ski-Doo and seven years before the first Polaris Sno Traveler was built in Minnesota in 1954.

Howard Schraeder was born in Spanish Mills, Ontario in 1925 and from a young age began tinkering with engines of all sorts. He was working in a hardware store there when he came up with the idea of building a snow machine and began designing and creating many prototypes. He moved to Sudbury in 1942 and began working at Inco at the age of 17 where he became a maintenance electrician. He continued working on his snow machine after work and by 1957 had developed and built a model he wanted to produce.

Snowbug logo

This was the Snowbug’s original logo.

He approached Jim Nemis owner of Noront Steel with an idea for a partnership that would see his Snowbugs mass produced. Howard  Schraeder and Jim Nemis negotiated a deal and by the end of 1958, the first eight Snowbugs rolled off the track at Noront Steel under the Original Equipment Manufacturing label. Bruno Rebellato, a supervisor at Noront Steel at the time, suggested Schraeder call his snow machine the “Snowbug” and the name stuck.

The Snowbug was an immediate success. The Canadian Army tested it in the Arctic and found it very impressive compared to other manufacturers’ vehicles; it was used extensively by prospectors, trappers and hunters and it won many competitive races against other snow machines.

Howard and the team at Noront Steel were constantly developing new features that improved the Snowbug’s performance and over the years created Baby Bug, Luv Bug and Snow Tractor models.

Approximately, 300-500 Snowbugs a year were produced at Noront Steel between 1967 and 1977. Production ended when their engine supplier began making snow machines of their own. There are still plenty of working Snowbugs around and many are for sale with prices ranging from the $3,000 to $5,000 range for a working model.

Below you can watch a video of an original Snowbug on today’s trails – a testament to how well they were designed and built.

For those of you who may want some more information about the Snowbug Yvon Gauthier wrote a book called Snowbug which can be purchased here.

The "SO" in the call letters for CKSO stands for Sudbury, Ontario.

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contact: colin@southsidestory.ca

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