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.
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.