Historic Photos of Dogsledding from Alberta

Before the invention of automobiles and snowmobiles, winter travel was exceedingly difficult. Northern Indigenous people developed a more convenient mode of winter transport, the dogsled. At its most basic, a team of dogs, typically between two and twelve, are attached in pairs to a gangline, which is then tied to a sled. The dogs work together to pull the sled across the snow-covered landscape, making travelling both quicker and easier.

As transportation, and its supporting infrastructure, has modernized, the use for traditional dogsleds has dwindled. There has been a resurgence in the sport of dogsledding however, and events, such as the Iditarod, are now internationally recognized. Dogsledding has also become a popular staple within the tourism industry, with numerous different outfits operating in the Bow Valley alone.

Before you rush off and book your own dogsled tour, why not scroll through these historical photos of dogsledding from various locations throughout the province.

Dog derby at winter carnival, Banff, Alberta, 1925
Dog derby finish, winter carnival, Banff, Alberta, 1926
Start of dog derby, winter carnival, Banff, Alberta, 1926
Strongheart Derby, Lake Minnewanka, Alberta, 1924
First Nations man delivering firewood via dog sled at Grouard, Alberta, 1918
Dog sled, Athabasca river area, Alberta, 1921
Mail leaving by dog sled for Fort Vermilion, Alberta, 1908
Transporting mail by dog sled over the Peace River, Alberta, early 1900s
Set of Walt Disney movie “Nomads of the North”, south of Exshaw, Alberta, 1960
Doris McCarter in dog sled, Edmonton, Alberta, 1915
Royal North-West Mounted Police at Athabasca Landing, Alberta, 1913
Royal North-West Mounted Police Constable Schrurer at Lac La Biche, Alberta, 1913
Frank Goodwin with dog sled in winter, Athabasca Landing, Alberta, 1913

If you’d like to learn more about working dogs, please read my previous story about Avalanche Rescue Dogs.

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives. Additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on each photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

About Tyler Dixon 217 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.