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Paul Demers, Founder
Paul Demers, Founder

The company had its humble beginnings in a Canadian cart and buggy shop, where the Demers family was already manufacturing funeral hearses and ambulances. Today, Demers is the oldest continuous ambulance manufacturer in North America.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Demers workshop produced vehicles for the growing transportation needs of an increasingly industrialized Canada and the emerging automotive age. That early involvement in transportation was to become a family tradition and vision for the next 60 years. In the industry today, Demers Ambulances is probably the only manufacturer that can truly trace its heritage back to its original buggy shop in the 1800s.

1892 – Demers 1st custom-built buggy

Beginning in 1892 the Demers family provides custom-built buggies, carriages, hearses, ambulances, and casket wagons to a pre-automotive-era Canada.

Paul Demers, Founder

1950’Paul Demers was a proud member in the family business and heritage of funeral specialists and ambulance services, eventually opening his own funeral home. Already aware of the importance of personalized care and attention, he made every effort to respect the wishes of the bereaved and provide a service tailored to each family’s needs.

With his customers in mind, Paul Demers decided to expand his business horizons, opening his own ambulance service. He quickly surmised that there was a need for better designed, better built ambulances. He looked for suppliers who could either provide or build the type of emergency vehicle he wanted for his customers, but it was not unavailable at the time. He very soon realized that he would have to build it himself.

The heritage of the family business reasserted itself, and Paul began building and modifying ambulances in a garage behind the funeral home.

Demers Ambulances, ’60
Demers Ambulances, ’60 Demers Ambulances, End of ’60 Demers Ambulances, End of ’60

In 1960 Paul Demers & Fils, Inc. was formed for the unique purpose of building a high quality line of ambulances.

The fledgling company proudly launched the first ambulance bearing the "Demers Ambulances" nameplate, and it was truly a revolutionary “custom vehicle”. Using a station wagon base platform, the roof was cut out, the chassis was cut in half, and the vehicle was “stretched”. The roof was also raised and a steel top added to provide more space and comfort for the occupants. From the very first vehicle, the attention to detail and Paul’s own demand for perfection showed in the final product. This fine craftsmanship and special attention to the fit and finish quickly became synonymous with Demers quality.

Demers facilities, '70
Demers facilities, '70 First ambulance based on a van chassis Demers advertising, '70 Demers logo, '60-'70

Between 1967 and 1971 facilities quadruple in size to meet the burgeoning demand for its products.

It was during this time that the production of the first ambulance based on a van chassis began. Designed to add a new dimension to ambulance transportation, the success of these little ambulances marked the beginning of a new era. They were extremely easy to maneuver through city traffic and economical to operate and maintain. Durability of the materials used, as well as the quality of the van conversion were key features that guaranteed the company's growth. Demers Ambulances' workmanship in the ambulance industry was becoming increasingly well recognized throughout Canada and to foreign buyers as well.

In 1974 Demers Ambulances received its first orders from Latin America, with a total of 200 new ambulances delivered. For the first time in its history, Demers Ambulances' know-how and abilities benefit populations beyond Canada's borders.

Demers new facilities, end of ’70
Demers new facilities, end of ’70 Deliveries to the Middle East, 1979 Deliveries to the Middle East, 1979 Deliveries to the Middle East, 1979 1982

Demers moves into new facilities, tripling its square footage and significantly increasing its production capabilities.

By this time, the growth and recognition of the Demers line had expanded beyond North and South America. Europe and the Middle East also recognized the quality and value of the Demers ambulance, and by 1979, deliveries to the Middle East alone totalled more than 1600 ambulances.

In 1982, the company marked a significant production record: 600 units were produced and delivered in one year.

New line of funeral vehicles. 1984
New line of funeral vehicles. 1984 Limousine, 1984 First order from Northern Africa, 1988

In 1984, Demers Ambulance benefited from its experience in automotive modification and body work in order to expand its offering. A new line of funeral vehicles was introduced to the market. Combined with the existing ambulance model line, this new orientation underlined the rich heritage of innovative thinking stemming from the company's long history.

When the market demands for more luxurious vehicles were heard, Demers Ambulances introduced a line of limousines to its range of products. Again the attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship were once again recognized by the Demers' customers and the industry.

In 1988, the first order was received from Northern Africa, making the Demers name known and respected virtually the entire world over.

Urgence Santé, Québec
Urgence Santé, Québec Department of National Defense, Canada Ministry of Health, Ontario Department of National Defense, Canada Aluminum cabinet structure

By the early 1990s, Demers Ambulances had become Canada’s leading ambulance manufacturer.

Unfortunately, a decline in the Funeral Coach and Limousine markets in the late 1980s forced the company to cease production of these types of vehicles. However, the resulting vacant production space allowed even greater expansion of the ambulance production line.

The 90s brought orders from Quebec, Ontario, the City of Calgary, the Government of Canada and the Department of National Defense.

In 1991, Demers introduced an aluminum cabinet structure as a standard feature in its vehicles, replacing much of what was wood with the lightweight metal. The result was a much stronger, lighter and durable ambulance interior which was easier to clean, maximized the vehicle’s payload capacity and lowered the overall center of gravity for a safer, more stable ride.

Advanced Response Vehicles Inc, 1992
Advanced Response Vehicles Inc, 1992 ARVI partnership with Demers Ambulances, 1992

The Mirage CX series was launched in 1992, marking the next Demers revolution in the ambulance industry with its aerodynamic, raised roof design and its unique emergency lighting system of thermoformed and sealed lenses combined to reduce air friction. Better road handling and drastic reduction in fuel consumption were two of its many key features.

1992 Rick Reddekopp founds Advanced Response Vehicles Inc. (ARVI) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

In 1994, the launch of the Mystere series again put Demers Ambulances in the spotlight. The Type III all-aluminum modular body made heads turn, featuring a "one-piece" body panel welded to a network of extruded structural channels.

Ambulances for USA
Ambulances for USA Ambulances for USA Department of National Defense - Canada ARVI - Saskatchewan Achievement in Business Excellence (SABEX)

1999 - 10,000th unit delivered

Demers Ambulances are introduced to the United States market. Demers Ambulances were tested to exceed the USA standard of KKK-A-1822.

Repeat orders were received from the Department of National Defense and Canadian Forces. The proven performance of Demers Ambulances in battlefield conditions once again demonstrated the strength of Demers Ambulances engineering and choice of construction materials.

In 2000, Demers Ambulances is named one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.

2000 – ARVI received a recognition from Saskatchewan Achievement in Business Excellence (SABEX) nomination (30 participants) in category for growth. Reached finalist as one of five in the entire Region.

ARVI facility, 2006
ARVI facility, 2006 British Columbia Ambulance Service Alberta Health Services

2006 - 15,000th unit delivered

In 2006, Demers Ambulances purchased the existing dealership located in Saskatoon, hired the former owner, Rick Reddekopp, as General Manager, and gave him the mandate to pursue growth in his market. Today Advanced Response Vehicles, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Demers Ambulances, is recognized as a state of the art sales and service entity in western Canada and the adjacent border states in the USA.

2009 - A major contract and significant order is secured from the British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) and Alberta Health Services.

MX 151 for British Columbia Ambulance Service
MX 151 for British Columbia Ambulance Service
MX 151 for British Columbia Ambulance Service Demers US Dealer meeting, August 2010 Demers 50 years celebration with the Demers family Mystere MX 160 ECO <a href='/news/article/top-innovation-award-2010-demers-mirage-ex-sprinter'>A distinctive EMS recognition</a>

February 2010 - Demers ambulances serve the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Demers Ambulances establishes a full-time US Sales Force in the eastern, central and western US with a developed Dealer Network.

June 2010 Demers launches the Mystere MX 160 ECO ambulance, a first in the industry.

The project consists of a Hybrid Idle Reduction System (HIRS) and an innovative application of existing green technologies that will revolutionize emergency medical service vehicle operations. HIRS maintains all onboard systems and cab climate control as mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, without idling and with no compromise to performance.

July 2010 - Demers celebrates its 50th anniversary as a corporation

In November 2010, the ambulance model Mirage EX Sprinter wins the 2010 TOP INNOVATION AWARD from EMS World.

2010 marks the re-launch of the Demers product line in the US market, with a new marketing campaign.