Becoming Master snowshoe makers

A story by Edmond and Brian J. Theriault from 2017

Father and son Edmond and Brian J. Theriault, master snowshoe makers.

Being born in, and living all my life in Maine is something I’m very proud of. I am in Aroostook County, where I think snow was invented. At a young age, I wanted to play with snow, but getting around on top of the snow was a challenge. So, when my father Edmond, said, "let’s try making traditional snowshoes," I was excited. We learned along the way, teaching ourselves to make snowshoes.

Our snowshoes are one-of-a-kind pieces of useable art, and my father and I build them with love. At one time in Maine, there were so many individuals, families, tribes, and companies that made traditional snowshoes. My father and I feel the strength of our traditions and our heritage in our work, and want the art of snowshoe making to be passed onto future generations.

We use cow skin because we found it makes great, strong rawhide for the weaving of the inside of the snowshoes. We use the best bendable brown ash trees with straight grain, and with plenty of wood on the frame. We are lucky that Maine and traditional snowshoes are world-known, which helps us in many ways to keep this art alive.

Brian J. Theriault (left) and his father Edmond Theriault (right) next to their "Dreamcatcher Snowshoes" made in 2016 from brown ash and rawhide at SPARK! Maine Art Stories, at Maine Historical Society in November, 2017.

Edmond Theriault explaining snowshoes to fellow artist, Titi de Baccarat, at the opening for the exhibition, SPARK! Maine Art Stories, at Maine Historical Society in November, 2017.

The Theriaults wrote a book to help others learn the art of making showshoes.

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