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Meet the Black Snowshoers Who Walked 1,000 Kilometres Across Canada in 1813 – Every Thing Zoomer

February 1st, 2024

Snowshoeing in the woods on a sunny winter’s day is my idea of fun. When playing in the snow, winter seems to pass faster.

Over two-thirds of Canadians participate in outdoor recreation, according to Statistics Canada. Some 13 per cent of these nature fans enjoy snowshoeing. Compared to skiing, snowshoeing is low key, inexpensive and easy to learn. And it can be done anywhere as long as there is snow.

Snowshoe walks and races were once the most popular winter sports in Canada, long before hockey seized that prize. A century ago, snowshoe clubs were scattered all over the country. The most important was the Montréal Snowshoe Club, formed in 1840. It organized professional and amateur races.

Some Black men once snowshoed over 1,000 kilometres in about 50 days. The epic trek took them from Fredericton, N.B., to Kingston, Ont. Unlike us, these men were not doing it for outdoor recreation.

The Black men were part of the 104th New Brunswick Regiment of Foot. The regiment left Fredericton on Feb. 16, 1813, and followed the banks of the frozen Saint John, Madawaska and St. Lawrence rivers until they reached Kingston. They arrived in April.

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