Ancestors of today’s Subarctic Athapaskans, the Gwich’in, made caribou and moose hides into two piece outfits. They wore a sleeved shirt (for men) or a dress (for women) with a combination moccasin-trouser in which the foot section forms part of the garment. The soft-bottom, hide foot of the lower garment suited travel in birch bark canoes and protected against cold and insects at different times of the year.

Compare this Gwich’in beaded caribou skin shirt and moccasin-trousers from about 1840 to 1890 to the 1847 sketch by Alexander Hunter Murray depicting Gwich’in women and children. These garments also look like the one worn by the Ingalik man in the 1880 photograph.
Ancestors of today’s Subarctic Athapaskans, the Gwich’in, made caribou and moose hides into two piece outfits. They wore a sleeved shirt (for men) or a dress (for women) with a combination moccasin-trouser in which the foot section forms part of the garment. The soft-bottom, hide foot of the lower garment suited travel in birch bark canoes and protected against cold and insects at different times of the year.

Compare this Gwich’in beaded caribou skin shirt and moccasin-trousers from about 1840 to 1890 to the 1847 sketch by Alexander Hunter Murray depicting Gwich’in women and children. These garments also look like the one worn by the Ingalik man in the 1880 photograph.

© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

The Footed Trouser

Ancestors of today's Subarctic Athapaskans, the Gwich’in, made caribou and moose hides into two piece outfits.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1840 - 1890
Caribou skin
P83.161
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Gwich’in Shirt

The Gwich’in wore a sleeved shirt (for men) or a dress (for women) with a combination moccasin-trouser in which the foot section forms part of the garment.

The Bata Shoe Museum

Caribou skin
P83.181
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Gwich’in Moccasin-trousers

The soft-bottom, hide foot of the lower garment suited travel in birch bark canoes and protected against cold and insects at different times of the year.

The Bata Shoe Museum

Caribou skin
P83.181
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Gwich'in women

Gwich'in women

Sketch by Alexander Hunter Murray
1851
© BAC/C-002170


Ingalik man

Ingalik man

Photographed by Edward Nelson
c. 1880
©NAA, Smithsonian Institution (6362)


Moccasins were the characteristic footwear of the First Nations. The flexibility of these soft-soled shoes enabled people to wear snowshoes, which allowed them to move quietly across the land, and to step into a birch bark canoe without damaging it. Decorations and cut-out patterns on moccasins sometimes indicated the wearer's clan or community.

The moccasin is a shoe in which the soft sole and the upper are one continuous piece of material. Most one-piece moccasins typically have a back and centre-front seam. Two-piece moccasins have an apron (vamp) inserted at the top of the foot. For both types, cuffs and collars can be either attached or part of the pattern.

One-Piece Moccasins

This pair of Huron moccasins was made and worn in the Great Lakes region around 1780 to 1790.

Look at these moccasins to appreciate why they are an outstanding example of the one-piece style.

One-Piece Construction
These moccasins have the classic straight back and centre seams - a pattern of quillwork covers the centre seam. The one piec Read More
Moccasins were the characteristic footwear of the First Nations. The flexibility of these soft-soled shoes enabled people to wear snowshoes, which allowed them to move quietly across the land, and to step into a birch bark canoe without damaging it. Decorations and cut-out patterns on moccasins sometimes indicated the wearer's clan or community.

The moccasin is a shoe in which the soft sole and the upper are one continuous piece of material. Most one-piece moccasins typically have a back and centre-front seam. Two-piece moccasins have an apron (vamp) inserted at the top of the foot. For both types, cuffs and collars can be either attached or part of the pattern.

One-Piece Moccasins

This pair of Huron moccasins was made and worn in the Great Lakes region around 1780 to 1790.

Look at these moccasins to appreciate why they are an outstanding example of the one-piece style.

One-Piece Construction
These moccasins have the classic straight back and centre seams - a pattern of quillwork covers the centre seam. The one piece of skin used to form the shoe extends to form a collar.

Decoration
Both the central seam and collar edge have fine porcupine quillwork in an orange, white, and black cross pattern. Dyed moosehair hangs from tin cones around the rim of the collar.

Skin Treatment
The skin has been tanned and smoked. Traces of red pigment suggest that the hide was once coloured

Two-Piece Moccasins

This pair of Cree moccasins comes from the Red River area from about 1820.

Look at these moccasins to appreciate their decoration and to understand the features of the two-piece style.

Two-Piece Construction
Two-piece moccasins have an apron inserted at the top of the foot.

Decoration
Quill work was woven separately on a loom and then applied to each apron and suspended from the collars.
Geometric patterns form triangles, stars, chevrons, and thunderbirds.
Three bands of bird quill piping decorate the joint between the apron and bottom pieces.

Skin Treatment
Smoked moose hide..

© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Chief Tanaghte

Chief Tanaghte

By Cornelius Krieghoff
c. 1848
© AGO.


One-piece moccasins diagram

One-piece moccasins diagram

Jeannette Ongaro

© Jeannette Ongaro


One-piece Moccasins

Both the central seam and collar edge have fine porcupine quillwork in an orange, white, and black cross pattern. Dyed moosehair hangs from tin cones around the rim of the collar.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1780 - 1790
Native tanned caribou skin, moose hair and porcupine quill
P82.142
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Two-piece moccasins diagram

Two-piece moccasins diagram

Jeannette Ongaro

© Jeannette Ongaro


Cree moccasins

Two-piece moccasins have an apron inserted at the top of the foot.

Quill work was woven separately on a loom and then applied to each apron (vamp) and suspended from the collars. Geometric patterns form triangles, stars, chevrons, and thunderbirds. Three bands of bird quill piping decorate the joint between the apron and bottom pieces.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1829
Smoke moose hide and porcupine quill
P98.16
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will :
  • Explain how the environment influenced population (Aboriginal, French and Engilsh) in their culture, lifestyle and economy;
  • Identify the effects that resulted from interaction between Aboriginal peoples and colonizers;
  • Summarize the evolution of the shoes in Canada and involve significant changes to Canada’s development;
  • Analyze the development of Canada through the evolution of shoes.

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