Since I covered the sleigh as winter transportation in my post Sleighs, Cutters & Carioles, in this post I wanted to show how the youngsters who lived in snow-covered areas were spending their winters. Like the sleighs and cutters, quality images are usually found online at auction and museum websites, but contain a copyright which prohibits reuse on a blog such as this one. However, I believe I've found enough images to show what was in use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1888, George Barker (1844-1894), created this stereograph of children playing in the snow beside a sled and a snowman. This is a very artistic snow sculpture as shown by the raised arm, shoulder, and two legs.
The Snow Man - Happy Days, c1888, George Barker, photographer, Niagara Falls, New York. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
Sleighs were more elaborate than sleds with sides and a seat like the adult versions. The pull sleigh was pulled by a person or animal, most often a dog, pony, ore even a goat such as this one pulling a Quebec cariole.
Master Corriveau in goat sleigh, Montreal, QC, 1880. Source: http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/collection/artifacts/II-55024.1
Although this next image is undated, wikimedia commons has tagged it as a Victorian trade card. Manufactured by North Western Sleigh Co, it shows one of the swell-body type sleighs of my last post.
No. 23 Children's Cutter by North Western Sleigh Co. (Wholesale Manufacturers). Source: commons.wikimedia
The push type of sleigh didn't require an animal and was mainly for children and invalids. They were made of wicker or wood with iron or bent wood runners and was a larger version of the doll sleighs seen in this next image. Like the adult version, family finances and social circles dictated the look of the sleigh.
Midwinter Carnival, Children's Parade, Doll Sleds, Upper Saranac Lake, N.Y. c1909. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
Many farm children and prairie settlers made do with all-wood push sleighs, which were used for work as well as play.
Moodie children playing in the snow, Kelowna, British Columbia. Ca. 1911-1912.
Source: Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta
Sleds were sleighs without sides, although the term is often interchangeable. For instance, a wooden sleigh with low sides and wooden runners could be referred to as a sleigh, sled, or even a sledge depending on the type of runners and use. A sledge, for example, was like a barge. It was a platform on timbers running low to the ground, a working vehicle most often used for hauling things, including people when the need arose.
Children being pulled on sled, Spencer Ranch, Milk River, Alberta. 1913, Source: Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta
A sled could have high iron runners that enabled it to glide along the snow, yet less expensive models used wooden runners, or even wood covered with a metal strip. From this next photo, it appears this type of sled was used on grass during summer training of a young lad's dog as well.
|Boy with dog hooked up to sled, Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. Ca. 1915. Source: Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta|
Today we call it sledding, but historically, sledding down a hill has been known as coasting - a rather sedate word for the fast pace of iron runners which shoot down a hill at high speeds.
Snow, Children Sledding, Washington, D.C, c1915-1923, glass negative, Harris & Ewing, photographer. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
|Two boys on a wooden sled in winter, Edmonton, Alberta. 1913, Source: Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta|
Sledding was enjoyed wherever a snow-covered slope was found. In Rochester, an open-air school built a wooden chute (slide) so the children could enjoy this winter activity.
Sledding, Rochester, Out of Door School, Coasting on the Toboggan. c1908-1915. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C
This photo of sledding on a wooden chute fascinates me. Mostly because I'm not aware of the term, 'open-air school', and also because of their school uniforms. Does anyone have any information that could enlighten us?
My most memorable experience of sledding is of an abandoned ski hill where the coasting was super-fast, but the remnants of summer weeds slapped our faces as we whizzed past. I'm sure I ate a few seeds on my way down.
What about you?
Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are written under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience. Discover more at: