M9126.96.36.1997.1-4 | Native artifacts
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
14.6 x 9.2 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Ethnology (606) , Native people (373) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Many recreational activities were adaptations of traditional rural sports. Most of these were borrowed from Native American cultures, where sports had multiple connotations. Games like foot races, javelin throwing and archery were designed to develop and celebrate hunting skills. Snowshoes and toboggans were mainly used for practical purposes, to get around during the winter. Physical contests also served to resolve conflicts. These sports were often characterized by close contact with the environment and nature. As they were transposed into the urban world, where there was less space, the way they were practiced was redefined.
Snowshoes, toboggans, moccasins and lacrosse sticks were all borrowed from Native culture.
The sports in which these objects are used require large spaces. Such areas could still be found in most 19th-century cities, which were not yet fully urbanized.
People began converting these objects to recreational use in the 1830s and 1840s.
Like most sports introduced in the 19th century, recreational snowshoeing and tobogganing were developed by British immigrants.