Snowshoe Making Toolset

Snowshoe Making Toolset

Set of Joe Henry's snowshoe making tools comprising 6 awls/drills, 5 knives/scrapers, 1 toe mold and a canvas bag

These tools were used by Joe Henry to make snowshoes. He was a well known snowshoe maker and one of Dawson City's most respected elders.To make snowshoes, a variety of tools are required. The three main tools for building the frames are an axe, a crooked knife, and an awl, which is a pointed instrument for piercing small holes. Lacing the snowshoes required other tools, mainly a netting needle and a lace straightener. A variety of needles are usually needed for the different kinds and sizes of netting.

Joe Henry was born in 1898 at the height of the Gold Rush. He married his wife of 81 years, Annie, sometime around 1921. They settled in Moosehide around 1930. Here, he became the most noted snowshoe maker in the area, gaining a reputation for superior snowshoe building skills in Dawson City.

The construction foreman relied heavily on Joe Henry when he acted as a guide for the snow road built in 1950. The road led from Flat Creek to North Fork Pass and on to Chance Creek. Mr. Henry snowshoed ahead of a convoy of D-9 Cats, picking out the most suitable route. When an all weather road went in the area, Joe Henry once again snowshoed and tramped out a route for the survey crews, working with them until a route was built to Eagle plains.

He passed down his traditional knowledge and snowshoe building technique to his children and grandchildren. He died on March 20, 2002 after a heart attack at 103 years old. He was full of life up until his death. Only a month an a half before his death he was out dog sledding with his daughter even though his doctor recommended that he take it easy to allow his broken hip to heal. He is remembered for his enduring youthful spirit.


Dawson City Museum, Dawson City

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