Monday, 20 February 2012

Metis and Dene dog blankets and bells

Paul Kane 1848 "Wedding Party"
These dogs are decorated with blankets and bells

The Canadian Inuit harnessed dogs to sledges over 1000 years ago.

"No one knows who might have been the first human to harness a dog to a sled.  The earliest archaeological evidence of dog harnesses and other specialized equipment for dog traction occurs in Canadian Thule sites, and it may have been these people who invented this mode of transportation that greatly increased the range of winter hunting and travel at some point between AD 1000 and AD 1600.  Historical records of the use of sled dogs in the Siberian Sub Arctic appear in Arabian literature of the tenth century; in writings of Marco Polo in the thirteenth century; and of Francesco de Kollo in the sixteenth. (Coppinger L)  An illustration taken from the 1675 edition of Martin Frobisher's "Historic Navigations." shows a dog in harness pulling what appears to be a canoe-like sled.  (Noel) 

There is little doubt that dog traction was extremely important to the indigenous people of North America long before the first Europeans arrived." more....historical freight dogs

Another source:
"The International Federation of Sled Dog Sports states that archaeological evidence shows dog sledding in Canada, North America, and Siberia originated 4000 years ago. Around 1,000 A.D., the Thule Inuit migrated to Arctic Canada from what is now Alaska bringing with them the first Canadian Eskimo dogs. The people and the dogs of this harsh region relied on each other for everyday survival. Researchers suggest that life in Northern Canada may not have been possible without sled dogs." more...Dog Sledding In Canada

sled dogs in Buffalo River (Dillon) circa 1925
"Dogs like that, which share man's hard times and strenuous work, cannot be looked upon merely as animals. They are supporters and friends. There is no such thing as making a pet out of a sledge dog; these animals are worth much more than that." by Helmer Hanssen,  more...Sled dog
Metis dog harness 1880-1890 more Part 1 more Part 2
Dog team with harness bells in La Loche circa 1940. Read more...Father Mathieu's dog team of 1955
This was painted by Peter Rindisbacher  in the 1820's in the Red River area. It shows a man with a whip dressed in a blue capote elaborated decorated with multicoloured ribbons, an assomption sash, red trousers with ornamented cuffs, garters below the knees, mitts joined by a red string and a type of head covering (either a cap or a toque).
This capote may be in two pieces with a hooded short cape that reaches to just above the elbows and worn over the top of the capote.
The man with a stick breaking trail in snowshoes is wearing a decorated hide blanket with fur on the inside, a pair of blue pants with red cuffs, moccasins and a red hood with a feather.
The passenger in the carriole is probably a 'man of importance' and great care will be taken to bring him safely to his destination.
The three dogs pulling the sleigh are covered in small red blankets with yellow accents. They have sets of bells around their necks and additional bells sticking out above their collars in a colourful display. 
Dene dog blanket 1878-1900
Dene dog blanket 1900-1915
Dene dog blanket 1878-1900
read more.....Dog-Tapis
dog whip 1880-1900

A set of three brass dog bells from a La Loche collection.

Sled dogs at La Loche around 1974 ready to race during a winter carnival. (by RD Laloche)

Mail was delivered by dog teams in the 1860's.

"The starting of the Northern Packet from Red River is one of the great annual events in the colony. It occurs generally about the 10th December, when the ice having been thoroughly formed and the snow fallen, winter travelling is easy and uninterrupted. The packet arrangements are such that every post in the Northern Departments is communicated with through its agency. The means of transit are sledges and snowshoes. The sledges are drawn by magnificent dogs, of which there are three or four to each vehicle, whose neatly fitting harness, though gaudy in appearance, is simple in design and perfectly adapted to its purposes, while the little bells attached thereto, bright looking and clearly ringing, cheer the flagging spirits of men and animals through the long run of the winter's day."    Red River by Hargrave page 155

Excerpt from "Red river" by Joseph James Hargrave published in 1871. This book describes the Red River Settlement before 1869.

Dog team with bells and sled in Ile a la Crosse 1910