Snowshoes

Snowshoes

One pair of snowshoes, wood frame with hide weaving

Constructed of two rails, three cross members and hide lacings. The two rails are bowed and joined together to form a rounded tip and a pointed tail, cross members are set in place and all is secured together with hide lacing. The weave in the heel and toe section is much finer then the weave of the centre section. The boot harness is attached in the centre section.

Snowshoes are made for winter travel to walk on top of the snow. The large surface area distributes the weight of the traveler keeping them from sinking in the snow.

The birch of the snowshoe was shaped around a framing device, while a combination of softening and plying the wood around the frame gave the snowshoe its distinct shape. The smaller netting at the toe and the heel of the snowshoe was woven with babiche (strips of semi tanned hide) or sinew (dried tendons). The middle of the snowshoe where the foot is placed has a wider weave and was laced with strips of rawhide, a more durable material. The typical lifespan of snowshoe wearing is one season. Each year they required restringing while the frames could be reused for years to come.

These snow shoes were made by Julius Kendi, a preacher in Old Crow. He made them for Paul Ben Kassi who was a well known competitor in the Rendezvous winter carnival dog races. Kassi won at least one Rendezvous sledding championship and placed on several other races. The snowshoes were donated by Paul's mother Eliza Ben after Paul's accidental death in Old Crow.

Julius Kendi was ordained into priesthood at St Barnadas' Church, Moosehide by Bishop Stringer and became the second priest of native ancestry in the far north. He was stationed in Old Crow. Paul Ben Kassi was of the Yukon's best known dog raisers and mushers. He lived in Old Crow and followed a traditional native lifestyle of trapping and fishing.

He drowned in the Porcupine River on September 19, 1971. Kassi was driving a motor boat when a sharp turn made him lose his balance and threw him overboard into the water. His two passengers Mrs Martha Kendi and her daughter Margaret managed to hold on. They tried to turn the boat around but the motor stalled. Kassi disappeared and he was never found. The RCMP did a search and drag operation, but only found his cap downstream from the accident site. He was remembered for his frequent entry in the dog sled races at the Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse.

Institution

Dawson City Museum, Dawson City

Accession Number

1978.1.1119.a, b

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