M21647 | Sleigh

1850-1900, 19th century
116 x 100 x 174 cm
Gift from Mrs. Anne Beaulieu
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Sleigh (315)
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Keys to History

This type of sleigh, with its high runners, was used mostly for outings.

It became fashionable towards the middle of the 19th century, at the expense of vehicles with wide, low runners. Built on high, openwork runners, this sleigh was much lighter and faster.

In addition, the height of the runners kept the box - the body of the vehicle - from touching the ground. Therefore the sleigh caused less damage to the roads than low vehicles, which scraped the snow-covered surface. The quality of roads at the time was so bad that the government issued various regulations to encourage people to use vehicles with high runners.

  • What

    There was a wide variety of sleighs in the 19th century, often reflecting the social status of their owners.

  • Where

    Sleighs with high runners first became popular in Montreal and the surrounding villages.

  • When

    Horse-drawn sleighs were commonly used in the country until the early 1950s. After the war, prosperity permitted the wider use of the automobile.

  • Who

    In Quebec, these sleighs were popularized by British garrison officers and middle-class citizens who had discovered the pleasures of winter.