Or snowshoes. We just had a million feet of snow drop on us and we’re about to get more tonight, so I thought snowshoes might be an appropriate post this week!
We have a few pairs in our collection here at the museum. The pair in this picture is a Beavertail style; the top is in a teardrop shape with a slightly upturned toe which makes it easier to walk through the snow. It has leather bindings and has a very narrow tail at the end. This particular pair was probably made around the early 1800s. Most of the webbing is still intact.
It’s believed that the snowshoe was invented between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. In fact, many anthropologists believe that an early style of snowshoe enabled our human ancestors to migrate from Central Asia to Canada where native groups continued to create and advance the technology of the snowshoe to suit their particular living areas.
These snowshoes are made from ash. Ash is a very soft wood which makes it perfect for bending and shaping to make snowshoes. The whole process of making a snowshoe is a tremendous amount of work and requires precise craftsmanship in order for them to work properly. Animal gut was generally used for the webbing.
Snowshoeing has become a very popular recreational activity and many of today’s snowshoes are made of metal. The basic design really hasn’t changed much which speaks to what an amazing piece of technology it is! If you’ve never gone showshoeing give it a try. It’s like floating across the snow and you can venture into places that just wouldn’t be possible without a pair on your feet.