The first European settlers bought native shoes until they could import European-made shoes. Some settlers continued to wear moccasins informally for comfort, and for practical purposes in the wilderness. Even well into the 19th century, they would wear moccasins and use snowshoes where these types of footwear provided better protection against the elements.

Adapting Moccasins

Europeans adapted Iroquois moccasins by adding a commercially tanned, leather sole.

"... and I am in daily expectation of a squaw to take the length of my foot for a pair of moccasons (sic) for I have decided upon layers of stockings crowned with moccasons (sic) as my snow feet gear, moccasons being warm and the cold does nip one's toes!!"
Juliana Horatia Ewing, Fredericton Letters, December 1 1867

"The Indians here - make mawkinsons(sic) which all the Indians wear instead of shoes and they ornament them very nicely with beads, ribbons, and porcupine quills - I had a squaw spoken to make me some but I have not heard any more of her. Mrs. Simcoe used to wear them over her shoes and she looked very smart.&q Read More
The first European settlers bought native shoes until they could import European-made shoes. Some settlers continued to wear moccasins informally for comfort, and for practical purposes in the wilderness. Even well into the 19th century, they would wear moccasins and use snowshoes where these types of footwear provided better protection against the elements.

Adapting Moccasins

Europeans adapted Iroquois moccasins by adding a commercially tanned, leather sole.

"... and I am in daily expectation of a squaw to take the length of my foot for a pair of moccasons (sic) for I have decided upon layers of stockings crowned with moccasons (sic) as my snow feet gear, moccasons being warm and the cold does nip one's toes!!"
Juliana Horatia Ewing, Fredericton Letters, December 1 1867

"The Indians here - make mawkinsons(sic) which all the Indians wear instead of shoes and they ornament them very nicely with beads, ribbons, and porcupine quills - I had a squaw spoken to make me some but I have not heard any more of her. Mrs. Simcoe used to wear them over her shoes and she looked very smart."
Elizabeth Russell, York, November 1797
(written to a friend in England, from notes taken by Edith Firth from the Russell papers at MTCL)

Moccasins with Soles

This pair of woman’s flat shoes combines European and First Nations' techniques and decoration. The vamp would have been given to a Huron-Wendat woman to embroider and then sent back to the European-Canadian shoemaker for assembling.

European aspects:
• floral motifs on the vamps
• shaped leather sole
• square toe style with stacked leather heel
• velvet edging

First Nations aspects:
• moosehair embroidery
• walnut-dyed deerskin

Compare the embroidery on the vamps of these shoes to a similar pair of vamps decorated with quillwork for a man's pair of shoes.

Snowshoes for Sport

European settlers wore snowshoes when hunting or for sport.

"My dearest Aunt Mary.

The sketch is to celebrate & notify to you the fact that I took my first walk upon snowshoes yesterday, and got along very well and didn't tumble once!!!!!! - I am the more proud as I was always awkward to a degree on skates & feel glad that snowshoes suit my constitootion better. They were made by an indian here, & are dear little things. It is not at all difficult and very good fun."

Juliana Horatia Ewing, Fredericton Letters, 9 February 1868

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

The Moccasin Seller

The Moccasin Seller

By Cornelius Krieghoff

Oil on canvas
P84.171
© Cornelius Krieghoff


Juliana Horatia Ewing's Sketch

Juliana Horatia Ewing's Sketch

Courtesy of Margaret Howard Blom

© Courtesy of Margaret Howard Blom


Man's Moccasins

Europeans adapted Iroquois moccasins by adding a commercially tanned, leather sole.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1830
Native tanned skin and porcupine quills, commercial leather
P81.316
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Woman's moccasins

Europeans adapted Iroquois moccasins by adding a commercially tanned, leather sole.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1845 - 1860
Native tanned skin and porcupine quills, commercial leather
P80.1672
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Women's Shoes

This pair of woman's flat shoes combines European and First Nations' techniques and decoration.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1830 - 1840
Walnut-dyed deerskin and commercial leather
P00.4
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Man's shoe vamps

Man's shoe vamps with white and green quillwork.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1840
Native tanned skin and porcupine quills
S81.350
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Juliana Horatia Ewing's Sketch

uliana Horatia Ewing's sketch

Courtesy of Margaret Howard Blom
1868
© Courtesy of Margaret Howard Blom


The Snowshoe Club

The Snowshoe Club

Henry Sandham
XIXth Century
Coloured lithograph
P87.92
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Juliana Horatia Ewing

Juliana Horatia Ewing

Courtesy of Margaret Howard Blom

© Courtesy of Margaret Howard Blom


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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