Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Restoration of Fred Burfield's Bombardier
Steve Richards

I moved to West Vancouver in 1959 when I was 6 years old. Two of the best places to go when you were exploring were Capilano Park and Hollyburn Mountain. We used to access Hollyburn from the old roads leading into the forest from the top of the British Properties. I moved away to New Westminster, but used to frequent these two places whenever I could.

In the fall of 1982, my friend, Ken Holowanky and I were hiking on Hollyburn and came across the wreck of the Bombardier just south of Fred's cabin. As I remember, there was an old Willys jeep there as well. I asked someone who owned the Bombardier and they pointed to Fred's cabin. I knocked, Fred answered, and I asked if he would be interested in selling it. He said he had already sold it to someone, but they never paid him and never came to get it. So, if we wanted it that would be fine. Price $100.00. We even got the original manual!

We got a 4WD Ford with a trailer behind it, and using Fred's key, accessed the old road/creekbed from the parking lot up to the machine. As all the tracks were broken off it, all we could do was winch it on top of the trailer, pile the broken parts on the side, and gingerly drive down the mountain. It was taken to what was then Case Recon (a machine shop that Ken Holowanky worked at) at the bottom of the 3rd St. hill in North Van. There we set about fixing it.

As the axles were all snapped off, we installed new replaceable ones should that ever happen again. The roof was caved in...we pushed it back out. The windshield was smashed, we made a template and the glass shop cut us a new one out of safety glass. Once it was semi-respectable, and we got the old Chrysler engine to run with just a tune-up, it was time for paint. We mixed up a match to the original burgundy colour, and sprayed it one calm day. Then it was loaded onto a car trailer for the trip to Manning Park. 

On the way we had a flat on the trailer and had to pull into a parking lot near the Park. Little did we know that this was the parking lot for snowmobilers. All sorts of people were working to get their machines off trucks and trailers, but when we pulled in, they all stopped and stared. I guess they thought we were subscribers to the "go big or go home" theory.

Once at the logging road, we offloaded, did some trial runs in the snow, since we had not had the opportunity in North Van to do that. All went well and we loaded up, drove the 7 miles in up the switchbacks, and the machine has called that area home ever since.
We have replaced all the tires with the proper Bombardier tires (some of them were "implement" farm tires that were on there) and Ken recently re-upholstered the seats. The Bombardier has run most every winter, with no breakdowns, since coming to the Manning Park area in 1983.