Time spent at antique shops and on eBay has revealed several 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. Moreover, 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. You can find a small snowshoe-shaped grey sticker on the toe bar with the company’s logo on vintage pairs of these shoes.
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, leaving 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. However, beyond this, I know nothing of this company, nor have I seen any other sets of snowshoes bearing its mark.
The GV Snowshoes site lists Kabir Kouba as a 1985 acquisition. I have visited the Kabir Kouba Falls at Wendake and assume that this snowshoe manufacturer was located in the vicinity.
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 as Hastings, Minnesota. Furthermore, the Lund name is associated with the products with the Northland Ski Company.
Matt Sutkoski has already contributed an excellent article-length history of Sherpa. Also, Claire Walter has shared 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.
But, Sherpas can still be had on eBay and elsewhere. Also, in the past, I have even spotted a pair of Sherpas in the wild myself!
I have spotted a handful of pairs of Snocraft models for sale in antique shops. Furthermore, 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 did 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 back in 2012. The stamping gave the place of manufacture as Lac Megantic.
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 that came to be known as the Modified Bearpaw. Then, 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”). Also, fellow Upstater Ray Green was a student of Westover’s (Archer 2000).
What other snowshoe manufacturers are you aware of that are no longer in operation? Also, are you familiar with any of these brands? Let us know in the comments below!
This article was originally published on March 25, 2013. Also, it was most recently updated by Susan Wowk on June 14, 2021.
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.