Every now and then, an extraordinary opportunity crosses your path and allows you to play a role in the making of history. So was the case when Northern Toboggan was commissioned to craft a Fully Rigged Toboggan to participate in the 2020 Red River Métis Expedition.
Historically, this type of toboggan was called a “cariole.” It was a sled pulled by horses or, in this case, dogs and used in areas of North America during the winter months. The cariole was a popular vehicle during the fur trade, transporting people and cargo. Unlike the open toboggan, it was partially enclosed with sides made of rawhide or canvas, and the planking was often made of birch. The cariole driver wore snowshoes and would run alongside the cariole. The pace and direction of the dogs was determined by the driver, who would shout commands to them.
The 2020 Red River Métis Expedition
The 160 km journey from Kenora to Upper Fort Garry, Manitoba, began Feb 18, 2020 and is expected to conclude May 12, just in time for the official celebration of Manitoba joining the Confederation 150 years ago. According to expedition organizer, Armand Jerome, there will be two legs of the journey. The first is by dogsled, from Kenora to the Whitemouth River. On April 20, it will continue by river carts leaving Hadashville. They will arrive in Upper Fort Garry on the 12th of May.
NTCo was fortunate to be included in the planning for this great expedition. Our sled traveled over the old Dawson Trail, parts of which needed to be cleared for this year’s expedition. This historic trail was first used by the Canadian government in 1870, to send the Wolseley expedition to extinguish the Red River Resistance. Now, it is used as part of the commemoration of Manitoba’s 150th birthday.
Lessons in History and Culture
Once we completed the toboggan, we were honored with a visit from the team when they came to pick it up. During their time here, we learned much about Métis history and culture. It was such an exciting and informative experience.
Louis Riel and his Métis followers mounted the resistance against the Canadian government from 1869 to 1870. It was he who declared a provisional government to negotiate terms for entering Confederation. It was through this uprising that the province of Manitoba was created. May 12, 2020, marks the 150th year of its establishment. Our handcrafted toboggan is a part of that celebration.
We enjoy the work we do here at NTCo and all the amazing opportunities that come as a result of us doing what we love most, making sleds. We are proud to be part of the community of Minnesotans who make a difference in the world in some small way. We invite you to learn more about Northern Toboggan Co – who we are and what we do.