Toboggan Selection...Part I

Toboggan Selection...Part I

It’s been suggested that we have some sort of “buyers guide” on our website. Often folks who may not be familiar with the different toboggan styles need help making a decision on which toboggan will best suit their needs. I think this is a good idea. Each year I have numerous discussions with customers inquiring on the attributes of the different toboggans we make here at Northern Toboggan & Sled.

There are basically three styles or models if you will of NTS toboggans.

Perhaps a three part blog on this subject will serve well to organize our draft of the future “Toboggan Buyers Guide” on the website.

In the research and reading I’ve done over the past twenty years or so, I conclude that the original toboggan or wooden sleigh as we know it showed up in Northern Canada about the time that the Europeans did. Europeans would be Hudson Bay Fur Company.

It has been believed that the finest wild fur comes from Northern Canada and Alaska. This fact is in large why the Hudson Bay Company came to North America, and primarily to Northern Canada. They were keen to befriend and support the aboriginal people living on the land…for obvious reasons. The trapper was the primary, and perhaps most crucial component in the Fur Trade Industry…

Prior to Hudson Bay the aboriginal people were using sleighs made of rough planks or bark and limbs from tamarack or spruce trees, as well as animal skins. Their only means of travel in the harsh winter was walking with snowshoes and pulling a skin sled. I suspect before the white man these people had never seen a sawn wooden board…lumber.

I suspect at some point a white (most likely) craftsman considered the sleighs his trading partners where using and thought that there needs to be a better way. I have no idea of how many proto types may have been made before these early craftsmen came up with the idea of soaking or boiling wood planks and curling up the front end and tying them together with crosspieces. But when they did it was definitely a big hit that has remained the optimum sleigh for travel in the Canadian North…ingenuity at its best!

The first Hand Toboggans or Hunting Sleds where narrow to follow in the snow shoe trail that is left by the trapper mushing his trap line on foot. They were long and flexible to follow the undulations of the surface of the land while remaining quite stable. Yet they were ridged enough to bridge irregular surfaces as well. These new sleds, with their hard and polished bottom surface, where much easier for the snow shoe musher to pull. It also allowed for larger and heavier loads.

These new Hand Toboggans for the aboriginal trappers where a boon to the fur traders at the Trading Post and brought certain prosperity to the aboriginal trapper and his family…

cross country skier, towing a fully loaded hand toboggan


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