Unusual Sleds Through the Years
by Anita Mae Draper
The winter season is almost over, but I wanted to bring you the 4th and final post on Sleighs and Sleds series. You can find the other parts here:
Part 3 Royal Sleighs
For this post I wanted to celebrate unusual sleds through the years starting with the oldest sled known.
I found this primitive sled on the website of The British Museum. The bone, ivory and wood sled from Greenland was collected from Inughuit (Polar Inuit) early in the 19th century, c1818. The British Museum descriptions says, "The sled is mostly made from whale, walrus and other bone, and wood, tied with walrus skin. The shoes on the runners are made of strips of narwhal ivory. It was collected by John Ross (1777- 1856) on the first occasion that this isolated group of Inuit came into contact with Europeans."
The sled above is similar to what we now call dog sleds which haven't changed much over the years. I did however, find this matted art print from 1878.
It's a Manitoba scene which is the prairie province to the east of where I live in Saskatchewan. I'd like you to note the sled behind the dog team, because this is very unusual and more reminiscent of the sleds called carrivales of Quebec. Actually, the sashes a couple of the men are wearing around their waist were worn by the Metis who were descended from the unions of French fur traders and native women.
This is what a common dog sled looks like... more open on the sides and raised off the ground.
Dog sleds are still used in many provinces and territories. In fact, there's a small community of half a dozen houses within an hour's drive of my farm where they train dog teams to race. When we lived in our old house, we'd often see the team racing parallel to the highway.
A sled similar to the dog sled, but working on people power is the kicksled.
|Kicksled or Orasparken in Sweden. "Kicksled" is a direct translation of the Finnish word, potkukelkka.|
This photo is from the blog juliamoved.com where Julia bemoans the fact that the kick sleds or spark are not that popular in Stockholm yet. She said she is going, sparkstötting.
Wikipedia says, the first definite record of a kicksled was in a newspaper in northern Sweden around 1870. The kicksleds of that era had stiff wooden runners and were heavy. In 1900 the design of the modern kicksled with flexible metal runners was introduced by the Swedish factory Orsasparken which quickly became standard in Finland, Sweden and Norway.
While researching this post, I saw so many upgrades and modern twists to the kicksled, I'm thinking of using it for a post by itself next winter.
These next 2 sleighs are from the 1800's like the Inuit sled at the top of the post, but are of European design and are on display at Volkskunstmuseum (Folk Art Museum) in Innsbruck, Austria.
The sleds in the above two photos unique in their shape and creativity. Although I'm not sure, I suspect the shelf at the back is another seat, but it's very small - almost childsize - and decorative. I'd like to thank abberdab for posting the above photos on flickr since it appears the Volkskunstmuseum does not have its collection available for online viewing. Unlike the Royal Sleighs in Part 3 of this series, these sleds bear no heavy gilt nor ornamation other than the creative details and paint.
The gentleman sitting in the back of the sleigh is Mr. Isaac O'Henry who was The Wallsend Slipway's Chief Engineer overseeing the reassembly of the 'Baikal' for four long years!
Apparently there is the icebreaking steamer 'Baikal' built at Walker in 1896 in the background, but photo was lightened too much to see it.
While surfing for suitable videos for this post, I came across a couple of new snow sports, namely snow canoeing, snow kayaking, and snow cycling. Who knew? These take sledding to new heights - literally. The kayaks in particular are waxed like skis. They shoot off moguls, spin, and keep going... ususually. And after watching the videos, I'll give a thumbs up for them becoming official Olympic winters sports. Trust me... if you like Snowboard Cross, you'll love Snow Kayaking.
This video is recreational snow canoeing and even if you don't watch the whole video, enjoy the music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkyl1ESLwZI&feature=related
|Snow Cycling |
|SnowCross Kayak Style|
Snow kayaking videos are all over the net for both recreation and competition (with 4 kayakers in each heat). I'm not providing a snow kayaking video here because all the good ones are sponsored by a drink company that I don't wish to promote. But they're on YouTube if you want to go see.
And for those of you who think sledding is for wimps, here's a video to show you what the Swedish Air Force does in their spare time to stay alert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85FxLsHU8us
So what do you think... would you like snow canoeing, snow kayaking or snow cycling to become Olympic sports?
Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books and Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita Mae at http://www.anitamaedraper.com/