M2005.35.2.1-2 | Snowshoe moccasin

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Snowshoe moccasin
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Huron-Wendat
1966-1970, 20th century
Leather, metal eyelets, synthetic fibre, cotton thread, tape (laces), plastic
23.5 x 8.6 x 28 cm
Gift of Mme Lise et Mme Andrée Mercier
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Moccasins (230)
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Keys to History

With the adaptation of the Huron-Wendat to the new living conditions resulting from urbanization, society at large unfortunately assumed that their acculturation was a fait accompli. At the same time, the Huron-Wendat language was disappearing. The turning point proved to be their craftwork; from subsistence hunters, the Huron-Wendat had become a people living increasingly by industrial production. In 1879, Paul Picard and his nephew, Philippe Vincent, signed major contracts with the Commissariat de Québec. An article in L'Opinion publique for April-May 1879 noted that the contracts were for "providing snowshoes, shoes, mittens, tobagons (sic) and Indian sleds to the soldiers, who benefit greatly from them."

By about 1950, machines had replaced the work done by hand. That is how "soft shoes" for snowshoes, into which was inserted a felt liner, began being produced by machine in the factory of Maurice Bastien, who gained international fame for this product.

  • What

    According to Rolland P. Sioui, these "soft shoes" or snowshoe moccasins were made industrially using split horsehide. Special machines split the leather in two layers. The upper part of the moccasin was made with the inside layer of the leather, while the foot was made with the outside layer, which was a little tougher.

  • Where

    This product was made in Wendake for sale and export.

  • When

    These "soft shoes" for snowshoes were introduced to the market during the Second World War.

  • Who

    These "soft shoes" were made by Maurice Bastien, a businessman from Wendake and owner of Bastien Brothers, a company that gained international fame. A similar type of footwear was made by Paul Blondeau of Loretteville.