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People have been snowshoeing across Mount Royal for centuries. First developed by Aboriginals, snowshoeing was adopted by Montrealers who, in 1840, created the Montreal Snowshoe Club.
Members would gather once a week at nightfall on Sherbrooke Street near McGill College and embark on a 20 km snowshoe trek through the forest of Mount Royal. The sport became one of the main social, recreational and philanthropic activities of the time, providing some of the most influential businessmen in Montreal with the opportunity to meet and socialise. Snowshoeing quickly became a popular winter sport and the first competitive sport in North America. Years later, Montreal Snowshoe Club members started wearing a blue tuque, a symbol of their excellence in competition.
By 1843, several snowshoeing races, including dashes, 3.2 km events and hurdles over 1.2 m high barriers emerged. The hurdle race in snowshoeing preceded its summer counterpart by almost a decade. Over the years, snowshoeing clubs opened across the country, and with them came new events, prestigious trophies and outstanding competitors.
It was not until 1890 that the snowshoeing frenzy faded, giving way to a new popular winter sport: ice skating.
Curious about experiencing this Montreal tradition? Take part in one of our snowshoe excursions with a guide from Les amis de la montagne or sign up for the Tuques Bleues Celebration on February 18, a unique night-time adventure on snowshoes combined with a gastronomic feast, a fundraiser for Les amis de la montagne.
Source : The Canadian Encyclopedia