Bruce Nodwell : biography
Bruce Nodwell, (May 12, 1914 – January 20, 2006) was a Canadian inventor who invented the Nodwell 110, a multi-purpose two-tracked vehicle capable of traversing a wide variety of adverse terrain, including sand, mud, muskeg, swamp, and snow.
In 1970, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honor, "for his contribution to the opening of the Canadian North through his inventions and development of various types of tracked vehicles". A mountain in Antarctica "Nodwell Peaks" and a lake in NWT bear his name.
Bruce’s inventiveness and problem solving skills soon became apparent. He developed and patented an automatic rewinding mechanism for gasoline pumps (CA 454365) and a pipe-wrapping machine for coating pipelines with tar paper in the field. Many problems related to construction work were solved by adapting other available equipment. Gradually the company continued to grow and diversify its activities including concrete bridges, trucking fleet, industrial camps and a machine shop known as Industrial Fabricators.
Over the years, Bruce filed eight patents in Canada.
William Bruce Nodwell was born on his father's homestead near Asquith, Saskatchewan, May 12, 1914. His unusual birth certificate read Section 22, Township 36, Range 9 west 3rd. As a youngster, his family lived in many small western Canadian towns, as his father was a grain elevator operator and trainer. They returned to Asquith, where his father ran a hardware store and later a Dodge car dealership in North Battleford. During this time, Bruce learned hands-on carpentry, electrical and mechanical machinery operations. Although he only took Grade 8 in school, he studied electrical apprenticeship by correspondence and became Saskatchewan's youngest registered electrician.
However, this was the time of the Great Depression in western Canada. Crops were drying out, prices for grain were low, farmers were being forced off the land, businesses were failing and there were next to no jobs. Bruce started doing odd jobs using his practical skills and hard work. He ran a two or three person contracting operation that took work wherever they could find it, which included all of southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 1936, he and his wife Phyllis settled in Calgary, Alberta where he and his brother, Jack, formed a contracting company known as Nodwell Brothers.
During the Depression and WWII years, not only were jobs hard to find, but so were materials. The government imposed a cost ceiling of $10,000 on all new buildings. This also applied to service stations, which made it very difficult to construct a building big enough to repair trucks and tractors or car dealerships. In order to construct a new building, another would have to be taken down, just to obtain nails, which then had to be straightened by hand.
In 1970, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honor, "for his contribution to the opening of the Canadian North through his inventions and development of various types of tracked vehicles".
A mountain in Antarctica "Nodwell Peaks" was named in recognition of the vehicles in use by the various Antarctica Research institutions.
A large lake in Canada's North West Territories is called Nodwell Lake (Lat 67.4539, Long -135.3115). During the early days of geophysical exploration in the north, the Nodwell vehicles were often sent out onto lakes once the ice was believed to be strong enough. The tracks in the snow would speed further freezing for other equipment. A Nodwell 110 fell through the ice of this lake and from then on it was known as Nodwell Lake. The crew was able to quickly exit out of the "Escape Hatch" on the roof that was standard equipment.
Canada Post issued a special stamp series in 1996 called Historic Land Vehicles. The Robin-Nodwell RN 110 is illustrated on a 88 cent stamp.
In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine