Snowshoes for winter travel were almost universal among Aboriginal people in Canada outside the Pacific and Arctic coasts. The Athapaskans of the West and Algonquians of the northeast made the most sophisticated snowshoes. Frames were generally made of durable, flexible ash wood, and lacing from deer, caribou and moose hide. The toe and tail sections of the shoe were laced with a light BABICHE
and the central body with a heavy babiche for better weight suspension. The Indian-style MOCCASIN
is the traditional snowshoe footwear. Much Indian FOLKLORE
centred on the snowshoe. The OJIBWA
, for example, celebrated the first snowfall of the winter with a snowshoe dance. During the early historic period the snowshoe was as important as the canoe, the wagon or the railway in opening up the country.
See also SNOWSHOEING.
The long, narrow (left) and bear paw snowshoes of the Eastern Woodland hunters were used for different snow conditions. Babiche is commonly used as lacework for snowshoes (artwork by Gordon J. Miller).
Portrait of Canadian Indian Nicolas Vincent wearing snowshoes by Philip J. Bainbrigge, courtesy Library and Archives Canada/R11935-3, e006608816).
RENÉ R. GADACZ
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.