M2005.35.1.1-2 | Snowshoes

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Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Huron-Wendat
1966-1970, 20th century
Cow hide (babiche), leather, wood (ash?), metal
29.5 x 110 cm
Gift of Mme Lise et Mme Andrée Mercier
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Snowshoes (47)
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Keys to History

Snowshoes were for centuries one of the preferred transportation methods of Aboriginal people. Over the years the Huron-Wendat adapted them, improving production methods to such an extent that, beginning in the early 20th century, several small snowshoe factories opened and flourished in Huron Village. The traditional model of Huron-Wendat snowshoes used when travelling in wooded areas or over frozen lakes was adapted for use in a variety of other conditions, and manufacturers started exporting snowshoes throughout much of the world. Until recently, modern Huron-Wendat snowshoes were made with cowhide babiche and varnished to make them more durable and waterproof. The materials used to make snowshoes have evolved, and the traditional wooden variety is becoming more and more rare.

  • What

    Thanks to industrial technology, Huron-Wendat artisans were able to adapt their snowshoes to modern needs without compromising their original characteristics. Today, much lighter and more modern materials have replaced the ash and babiche.

  • Where

    These snowshoes were made in Wendake.

  • When

    In the 20th century, several small manufacturers in Wendake produced snowshoes for sale and export.

  • Who

    Several Huron-Wendat businesses employed people (often men) to work in factories making the snowshoe frames and the lacing (babiche). However, some women from the community were also familiar with the technique of lacing the snowshoes.