Recently I posted a sketch I’d done of a caboose, done from a photograph taken when cabooses were part of our landscape. In that post I floated the idea that if I was going to be forced to sketch from photos by winter, that maybe I should sketch things that used to be part of our landscape but that have largely disappeared.
Well, never say stuff if you don’t mean it. My sketching buddies, Fernande and Claudette picked up on the idea and said, “You should sketch a bee-douze“, and I said, “Huh?”
They were surprised that I didn’t know what a “bee-douze” was even though they know my French isn’t very good. It wasn’t a French problem, however. “Bee-douze” is simply “B-twelve” in English but I still had no idea what they were talking about and I don’t think a lot of Francophones would know either. But Fernande and Claudette both grew up in a part of Quebec called “La Gaspesie”, a rural part of the province. They were taken to school in a “bee-douze” when winter snows prevented alternative transportation.
And you know what? The B-12 is an important part of our technological history as it was a big money-maker for a company called Bombardier who invented snowmobiles and who are now one of the world’s largest suppliers of modern passenger train cars and executive jets. Oh, and they still make snowmobiles via their recreational vehicle division called Ski-Doo. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
The B12 gets its name from the fact that it could zip along above the snow, carrying 12 people. Not the prettiest vehicle ever built, it gets high marks for its unique, almost Flash-Gordon-like round windows and teardrop shape. I had fun drawing this one.