ME930.10 | Snow goggles

Snow goggles
Anonyme - Anonymous
Western Arctic
Inuit: Inuvialuit
1900-1905, 20th century
Wood, hide, pigment
2.7 x 16.1 cm
Forbes D. Sutherland Collection - Gift of Mrs. Margaret D. Sutherland
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Snow goggles (2)
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Keys to History

Scientific Exploration

In 1841, the Province of Canada (composed at the time of southern Ontario and Quebec) realized that to develop a competitive industrial economy it first had to assess what resources were available across its vast territory. The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) was established to carry out this mission. As the Dominion grew after the purchase in 1870 of Rupert's Land (named for Prince Rupert, the first governor of the company) from the Hudson's Bay Company, so did the territory to be explored.

Although the work carried out by the GSC was primarily a geological assessment and careful mapping of the physical features, the scientific staff had far-ranging interests. In addition to collecting valuable information on the presence or absence of mineral wealth, they wrote descriptions of Aboriginal communities, environmental conditions, climatic conditions, fauna, flora, hydrographic systems and so on.

One cannot discuss these Arctic expeditions without highlighting the role of Inuit men and women. Their presence and expertise often ensured the survival and well-being of the survey parties, and underlay the success of such enterprises.

  • What

    Snow goggles made of wood. Snow goggles (iggaak) were worn in spring to prevent snow blindness. The shape of the openings prevented burning of the retina by the ultra violet radiation in the sun's rays reflecting off the snow. Such openings improved the hunter's central vision by reducing his peripheral vision. The feature not only sharpened normal or 20/20 vision, but also assisted people who were short- or farsighted. An ingenious split strap prevented the goggles from falling when the wearer bent down or looked up.

  • Where

    These snow goggles were probably used by Forbes D. Sutherland (born about 1879), a constable with the NWMP, on his routine expeditions around Herschel Island (Yukon).

  • When

    These snow goggles were made around 1902.

  • Who

    These snow goggles were carved by an Inuvialuit man (Inuit of the Mackenzie River District).