Time spent at antique shops and on eBay has revealed a number of names of snowshoe makers and manufacturers no longer in operation. The following listing does not pretend to be comprehensive. Readers are invited – and in fact, encouraged! – to issue correctives and addendums to the below.
The GV Snowshoes site lists Aigle Noir as a 1984 acquisition. The response to a letter on p. 11 in Backpacker’s 13 February 1976 issue (vol. 4, no. 1) gives the company’s address as 42 de la Passerelle in Loretteville.
I have seen online photos and references to Browning snowshoes. One photo makes visible stamping on the toe-bar that reads “Made in Canada.”
The New Brunswick-based Chestnut Canoe Company was also a manufacturer of snowshoes.
In the course of a November 30th, 2013 Google+ thread, Steve Kilbride kindly pointed me to a webpage offering information on the building in Fredericton that formerly housed the Chestnut Canoe Factory. The page notes that in addition to producing canoes, the company “also supplied the armed forces with thousands of pairs of snowshoes.”
Sole proprietor Carl Heilman made his first pair of snowshoes after relocating to the Adirondacks in the early 1970s. He currently makes his living as a photographer, having left the snowshoe-making business a decade and a half ago (pm with C. Heilman, 30 April 2012).
Henry Ross Limited
I received a pair of Huron snowshoes purchased at the Brimfield Antique Show for my birthday in the summer of 2011. A label gives Loretteville as the location of the company. Beyond this I know nothing of this company nor have I seen any other sets of snowshoes bearing its mark. [Edited on 22 December 2013.]
I have come across online references to the World War II-era snowshoes produced for the United States Army by C.A. Lund. The location of the company is given in some of the references as Prescott, Wisconsin, and in others as Hastings, Minnesota. The Lund name would seem to associate the products with the Northland Ski Company. [Added to post on 01 December 2013.]
Matt Sutkoski has already contributed an excellent article-length history of Sherpa and Claire Walter an excellent profile of company founders Bill and Gene Prater for Snowshoe Magazine, from which I summarize. The Northwest-based company came into existence in the early 1970s. The design features now taken for granted by snowshoers—metal frames, synthetic decking, and crampon-integrated bindings—became available to consumers via the Sherpa brand. The company went out of existence in the 1990s after changing hands a couple of times.
Sherpas can still be had on eBay and elsewhere, and British Columbia-based company Arctic Trekker manufactures compatible replacement parts. Just a couple of weeks ago I spotted a pair of Sherpas in the wild myself!
I have spotted a handful of pairs of Snocraft models for sale in antique shops. A page at the Garland Manufacturing Company’s website states that Garland acquired the Norway, Maine-based Snocraft in 1950, at which time a single employee worked repairing snowshoes. Over the course of the next twenty-four years, activities at Snocraft expanded to include the manufacture of snowshoes, wooden sleds, and children’s skis. The webpage states that the “division was sold” in 1974 but does not state to whom or whether it continued operations afterward.
I spotted a pair of Torpedo snowshoe decorating the wall of an outdoor store in Western North Carolina last fall. The stamping gave the place of manufacture as Lac Megantic. (Added to post on 28 March 2013.)
Sole proprietor Floyd Westover of Upstate New York pioneered two important snowshoe design features. In the 1930s he combined an ovular frame with a swallowtail to create a frame shape which came to be known as the Modified Bearpaw and in 1964 he substituted neoprene for rawhide lacing. He sold the rights to his design and to the use of his name to Iverson in 1964 (“Inventor sells rights”). Fellow Upstater Ray Green was a student of Westover’s (Archer 2000).
Archer, Rick. 2000. “Broadalbin snowshoe maker one of a dying breed.” The Daily Gazette, January 16, sec. Focus on Fulton and Montgomery counties, pp. 1, 6.
“Inventor sells rights on 1930 snowshoes.” 1981. The Hour, March 23, p. 12.
“Snowshoes & Snowshoeing.” 2012. www.CarlHeilman.com. http://www.carlheilman.com/snowshoe.html.