Toboggans: The Traditional Sleighs of the North

The toboggan or hunting sleigh was likely to have been the first wooden winter sled used in Northern Canada. We believe that the first toboggans were long, flexible, narrow, and pulled by hand. A sleigh of this type would have fit very naturally into the snowshoe trail and would allow a person to carry a heavy load across the land in winter. These were similar but much cruder than our hand toboggan.

With the prosperity that came with the Fur Trade dogs where employed to work the trap lines that were growing in distance and weight of cargo. Larger more durable toboggans where made for dog sleds to accommodate trapping tools, provisions, fur, and people, at faster speeds than walking on snowshoes.

The 3-board dog toboggan, or Yellowknife toboggan, evolved to become (and has remained) the preferred winter sleigh below the tree line across northern Canada. With the advent of the snowmobile, hunters and trappers began to replace their dog teams with “skidoos”", and the toboggans previously pulled by the teams were simply tied to the back of the machines. Over the course of time, innovations in construction and respect for tradition have resulted in the Yellowknife toboggan’s status as one of the most tested and most proven winter sleighs in the world. Whether it is pulled by dogs or snowmobile, a well-constructed toboggan is one of the most prized possessions of many in the North.

 

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