M984.102.1-2 | Snowshoes

Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Huron-Wendat
1880-1890, 19th century
White ash wood, babiche, cotton (oil lamp wick), wool (tufts), metal (nails)
4.5 x 29.6 x 91 cm
Gift of Mrs. M. E. Sylvia
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Snowshoes (47)
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Keys to History

Snowshoeing was the most popular winter sport in Montreal during the 1870s and 1880s. Practised by Amerindians for practical purposes, under English influence, this activity became a recreational means of transportation.

Leaf-shaped snowshoes of this type were used in the 19th century by many snowshoe enthusiasts. This model, mainly manufactured and marketed by the Hurons, had the advantage of being adaptable to different types of terrain.

At the end of the 19th century, members of Montreal snowshoe clubs mostly took long outings on the paths of Mount Royal. The most intrepid might also take part in various events, such as sprints and obstacle races, which were organized every winter by the clubs along with other competitions.

The glory days of the snowshoe were short-lived. Beginning in the 1890s, a new winter sport was gaining popular favour: ice hockey.

  • What

    The snowshoes were made of wood, sinew, metal, cotton and fibres.

  • Where

    This pair of snowshoes was made about 1880 for the Montreal Snowshoe Club, also called the Club de la Tuque Bleue.

  • When

    At the end of the 19th century, the Hurons of Wendake, outside Quebec City, produced most of the snowshoes sold to snowshoe clubs.

  • Who

    This pair of snowshoes, probably made by the Hurons of Wendake, nevertheless imitates the style of the traditional snowshoes of the Eastern Woodland Iroquois.