Vintage Photos of Snowshoeing from across Alberta

Snowshoes are used to displace your weight on snow, making foot travel possible during the winter months. It’s almost as though you’re floating on top of the snow, instead of sinking into it. Some animals, like snowshoe hares, lynx, and caribou, have naturally large, feet/hooves. Their feet are an evolutionary adaptation that allow these species to travel easier throughout their snowy habitats. Possibly taking a cue from the wild, snowshoes have been used by humans for over 4,000 years.

Malcolm T. Millar of Millarville, Alberta, 1879

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia. “Snowshoes for winter travel were almost universal among First Nation people in Canada outside the Pacific and Arctic coasts. Frames were generally made of durable, flexible ash wood, and lacing from deer, caribou and moose hide. The toe and tail sections of the shoe were laced with a light babiche (a type of string made from rawhide) and the central body with a heavy babiche for better weight suspension. Moccasins were the traditional snowshoe footwear. During the early historic period the snowshoe was as important as the canoe, the wagon or the railway in opening up the country.”

Snowshoe and toboggan trip to the traplines, Kananaskis, Alberta, 1906-1907

Enjoy this collection of vintage photographs of folks using snowshoes from across the province of Alberta.

Trappers returning to Morley, Alberta, after a winter in Kananaskis area, 1907
Native trappers at Tony River, Edson-Grande Prairie trail, Alberta, 1914-1916
Fur traders with snowshoes at Jasper House, Alberta, 1871
M. J. I. Sprenger, Domburg Ranch, southern Alberta, 1890s
Mr. and Mrs. J. Edwin McKibbin with tent home, Calgary, Alberta, 1883
Jack Morden and Mac Macleod with bear skins, Coleman, Alberta, 1914
Man standing in snow with gun on shoulder, 1910-1929
North-West Mounted Police party with three dogsleds on their way to the Yukon from Alberta, 1898
Ronald W. MacKinnon, Imperial Oil dispatch bearer, after arrival in Edmonton, Alberta, 1922
Snowshoers in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta, 1920-1939
Snowshoers near Mount Temple, Alberta, 1920-1939
Snowshoers near Mount Temple, Alberta, 1920-1939
Snowshoers on Tunnel Mountain, Alberta, 1920-1939
Fred Moses, Alberta Provincial Police, and son, Rod, at Lac La Biche, Alberta, 1920
Trapper beside cabin, Alberta Coal Branch area, Alberta, 1920s
Two women snowshoeing, 1918
Snowshoeing and tobogganing at Waterhole, Alberta, 1920s
Calgary Power Company employees breaking camp, Spruce Avenue, Alberta, 1922
Bill McCowan with snowshoes and camera, Banff, Alberta, 1930s
Snowshoe trip to Lake Minnewanka, Banff area, Alberta, 1908
Nurse and school teacher, anglican church mission, Wabasca, Alberta, 1933
Bert Barnes, park warden, on patrol in Belly River Valley, with dogs, 1929-1930

For even more historical photos of winter activities, please see my previous posts on dogsledding and skiing.

Father Jungbluth on snowshoes, in the Fort Vermilion area, Alberta, 1937

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.

Tyler Dixon
About Tyler Dixon 138 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.