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© McCord Museum
Snowshoe group, Mount Royal, Montreal, QC, about 1901
N. M. Hinshelwood
About 1901, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
16 x 21 cm
Gift of an anonymous donor
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Snowshoeing was to become one of the most accessible and widespread leisure pursuits. Clubs in many Canadian cities practiced it as an organized sport. Initially these clubs focused on races. With time, though, their programs evolved to include more social activities like walks and hikes, which made it easier for women to participate.

Contrary to other sports, French Canadians adopted snowshoeing fairly early in the 19th century. In fact, it was so popular among Francophones that, in 1854, the daily newspaper Le Canadien proposed that it be declared a national sport.

Donald Guay, La conquête du sport : Le sport et la société québécoise au XIXe siècle (Montreal: Lanctôt Éditeur, 1997), pp. 84-88

Michel Bellefleur, L'évolution du loisir au Québec : Essai socio-historique (Sainte-Foy: Presses de l'Université du Québec), 1997, pp. 39-42.


Snowshoeing evolved rapidly during the 19th century, transformed from a practical means of locomotion to a social and recreational activity.


Montreal's winter sports lovers flocked to Mount Royal, which offered plenty of space for snowshoeing, sleigh rides and tobogganing.


Although most excursions took place during the day, evenings were fine for snowshoe strolls in charming company!


Women joined snowshoeing clubs in greater numbers as the sport became more social and less competitive.

© Musée McCord Museum