snowshoes

I learned to make snowshoes from an Attikamek (aka Tetes-de-Boule) man named Moise Flammand.  The Attikamek (which means “whitefish”) are the indigenous people of central Quebec, north of the Innu (aka Montagnais) and south of the Cree, to whom they are also closely related.  Strangely, I never met him, and when I learned to make snowshoes from him, he wasn’t alive (in the traditional sense).  Rather, I got the book “Making the Attikamek Snowshoe” by Henri Vaillancourt, which meticulously documents Moise Flammand in the process of making his people’s traditional snowshoe, using their traditional tools.  Fortunately for me, and for the rest of us interested in such things, this book is the best craft book I’ve ever seen.  So thanks Moise, and thanks, Henri.

I broke a bunch of frames, and then started actually making frames, and then weaving them.  Like anything, the more you do it the faster it goes, but there’s really no shortcut in the intricate, patterned weaving that is the hallmark of northern snowshoes.  Just get comfortable and have patience.

There’s a lot to say about snowshoes, but not the modern ones which really only function on a packed trail, but the kind that you need in order to live in the bush, to wear while hunting, trapping, or traveling long distances in deep snow.  Generally speaking, they are far bigger than what we are used to, and since you made them from only wood and rawhide, you can fix them if they break.   Finally, if you are actually going to depend on them, you’d better do a good job.

Here’s some photos from my recreation of the Attikamek snowshoe.

 

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