Snowshoeing made snow travel easier for many different people: hunters, trappers, farmers, timber spotters, surveyors, prospectors, explorers, and soldiers all used snowshoes.
Most people made their own snowshoes until about one hundred years ago. We agree that there are four main styles of snowshoes; plus the infinite number of handmade trappers, ceremonials, emergencies and just plain “uniques”. Native Indians such as the Montagnais, the Naskapi, Athabascans, Algonquin, Attikamek, Cree, Labrador, Iroquis and the Aagimug mastered snowshoe making.
While snowshoe shapes tend to reflect primitive regional diversity their function for maneuverability in the variety of local terrain remains thee source for differing designs.
In the beginning snowshoe names were created by referencing their shape to native animals. The Bearpaw, Swallowtail and Beavertail are classic examples. The Bearpaw's frame forms a large wide shape seen in paw prints of forest dwelling bears. The Swallowtail's shape is characteristic of many birds but I think the silhouette of a cliff swallow embodies this shape best. Last but definitely not least the frame of a Beavertail snowshoe takes the distinctive shape of a Beavers tail.
Bear Paw (also called Modified Bearpaw, Green Mountain or Appalachian)
Huron (also called Michigan, Maine, Beavertail or Algonquin) – thee most popular design
Alaskan (also called Trail, Yukon, Cross Country or Pickerel)
Ojibwa (also called Aagimug, Chippewa, Cree or Ski-Snowshoe)
Article by © Vintage Winter