Did You Know the Sno-float was Invented in Sudbury?

Sno-float Rockiron CompanyThe Rockiron Company Ltd. was founded in 1953 by Tom Kierans and Jack Gordon. Tom was a mining engineer and believed that the rock bolt used in coal mines could also be adapted to use in the hard rock mines of Sudbury. He told his friend and Sudbury businessman Jack Gordon about his idea and they decided to start their company which was located on Lasalle Blvd.. In addition to designing their new rock bolt the company also branched out to make improvements to tools and equipment used in underground mining particularly where they were used for ground support. 

And then they tried their hands at a new invention designed to take the heavy work out of old fashioned snow shovelling and created the first Sno-float.

That first year, 1962, Sudbury Rockiron Company had 40 men working, two shifts manufacturing the Sno-floats. All parts of the Sno-float, except for the handles were made from products purchased by local manufacturers. The original Sno-float was made out of steel and held the equivalent of about 5 shovel-fulls of snow. Its design allowed it to easily glide over the snow. 

Within two months of being on the market the Snofloat was one of the fastest selling products in Sudbury’s Canadian Tire store.This caught the eye of executives from the Canadian Tire Corp. and so it was decided to ship Sno-floats to stores in Ottawa, London, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Toronto. 

The company marketed it as “The ‘New’ Way is to ‘Float’ it Away” as you could clear snow banks in minutes and easily with one hand needed to push a Son-float full of snow

The Sno-float was quickly adopted by area housewives who loaded their groceries onto it in the winter so they could easily bring the groceries back home. Paper boys used it to carry the newspapers they delivered and children were even using them as toboggans. Sudbury Rockiron Company even added wheels so the Sno-float became the Tote-float which could be used in the summer to carry everything from earth to children (according to their advertising).

There is not a lot of information to be found about what happened to the Sno-float and the Rockiron Company so if anyone can add anything that would be fantastic. Just email share@southsidestory.ca or post in the comments below.

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