MP-0000.261.3 | Snowshoeing Indian file, Mount Royal, Montreal, QC, 1879

Snowshoeing Indian file, Mount Royal, Montreal, QC, 1879
Alexander Henderson
1879, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
16 x 21 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Occupation (1110) , Photograph (77678) , sport (475)
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Keys to History

Upper-class colonials began forming sports clubs in Canadian cities in the 1820s and 1830s. Membership in these associations was very select, reserved to wealthy businessmen, lawyers, politicians, military officers, judges and doctors.

Only the elite had free time for leisure activities, which often had no fixed schedule. A cricket game might go on for several days! And snowshoeing excursions could last a full day, ending with a meal at a club or restaurant.

Alan Metcalfe, "The Evolution of Organized Physical Leisure in Montreal, 1840-1895", Social History/ Histoire sociale, vol. XI, no. 21 (May 1978), pp.144-145.

  • What

    This orderly trek across Mount Royal is a good illustration of how the upper class practiced sports. There is more than a hint of military discipline in the snowshoers' alignment.

  • Where

    The hilly expanse of Mount Royal Park was to become the ideal place for privileged Montrealers to practice their favourite sports.

  • When

    The Montreal Snow Shoe Club -- the foremost club of the day -- organized excursions on long winter evenings or Saturday afternoons.

  • Who

    Snowshoeing as a sport was practiced mainly by the rich in Montreal and other cities, as seen in these specially designed outfits.