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The Toboggan Or Indian Sledge


For winter traffic over deep snows there is no better sled in the

world than the Indian toboggan. To the trapper during a winter

campaign it is often an indispensable convenience, and without

it the Indian hunters of the North would find great difficulty in

getting their furs to market. All through the winter season the

various trading posts of Canada are constantly visited by numbers

of Indian trappers, many of whom h
ve travelled hundreds of miles

on their snow-shoes with their heavily laden toboggans. Arrived at

their market they sell or trade their stock of furs, and likewise

dispose of their toboggans, reserving only their snow-shoes to aid

them in their long tramp homewards.

In Canada and northward the toboggan is in very extensive use, both

for purposes of traffic and amusement. It is quite commonly met

with in the streets of various Canadian cities, and is especially

appreciated by the youthful population, who are fond of coasting

over the crust of snow. For this purpose there is no other sled

like it, and a toboggan of the size we shall describe will easily

accommodate two or three boys, and will glide over a crust of snow

with great ease and rapidity. To the trapper it is especially valuable

for all purposes of transportation. The flat bottom rests upon

the surface of the snow, and the weight being thus distributed

a load of two or three hundred pounds will often make but little

impression and can be drawn with marvellous ease. Our illustration

gives a very clear idea of the sled, and it can be made in the

following way: the first requisite is a board about eight feet

in length and sixteen or more inches in width. Such a board may

be procured at any saw mill. Oak is the best wood for the purpose,

although hickory, basswood or ash will do excellently. It should

be planed or sawed to a thickness of about a third of an inch,

and should be free from knots. If a single board of the required

width is not easily found, two boards may be used, and secured

side by side by three cleats, one at each end and the other in

the middle, using wrought nails and clinching them deeply into the

board on the under side. The single board is much to be preferred,

if it can be had. The next requisites are seven or eight wooden

cross-pieces of a length equivalent to the width of the board.

Four old broom-sticks, cut in the required lengths, will answer

this purpose perfectly, and if these are not at hand other sticks

of similar dimensions should be used. Two side pieces are next

needed. These should be about five feet in length, and in thickness

exactly similar to the cross pieces. Next procure a few pairs of

leather shoe-strings or some strips of tough calf skin. With these

in readiness we may now commence the work of putting the parts

together. Begin by laying the cross pieces at equal distances along

the board; across these and near their ends lay the two side pieces,

as seen in the illustration. By the aid of a gimlet or awl, four

holes should now be made through the board, beneath the end of each

cross piece, and also directly under the side piece. It is well to

mark with a pencil, the various points for the holes, after which

the sticks can be removed and the work much more easily performed.

The four holes should be about an inch apart, or so disposed as to

mark the four corners of a square inch. It is also necessary to

make other holes along the length of the cross pieces, as seen

in the illustration. The line on these can also be marked with

the pencil across the board, and the holes made afterwards. These

should also be an inch apart, and only two in number at each point,

one on each side of the stick. When all the holes are made the

board should be turned over, in order to complete preparations

on the other side. The object of these various holes is for the

passage of the leather shoe-strings for the purpose of securing

the cross pieces firmly to the board. In order to prevent these

loops from wearing off on the under side, small grooves should next

be made connecting the holes beneath, thus allowing the leather

string to sink into the wood, where it is securely protected from

injury. A narrow chisel is the best tool for this purpose, the making

of the grooves being much more easily and perfectly accomplished

with this than with the jack-knife. When the under side is thus

finished the board may be turned over and the cross pieces and

sides again arranged in place as already described. Secure the

pieces to the board by the leather strings through the various

holes, always knotting on the upper surface, and taking care that

the knots are firmly tied. The ends of all the cross pieces will

require a double cross stitch through the four holes beneath, in

order to secure the side pieces as well. This is plainly shown in

the small diagram (a). The front end of each side piece underneath

should now be sharpened to a point, to allow for the bend at the

front of the toboggan. The cross piece at this end should be secured

to the under side of the board, so that as it bends over it will

appear on the upper edge, as our illustration shows. The board should

next be bent with a graceful curve, and thus held in position by a

rope or strip of leather at each extremity of the end cross piece and

attached to the ends of the third cross piece, as seen in the engraving.

If the bending is difficult and there is danger of breaking the board,

the application of boiling water will render it pliable. The draw

strings should then be attached to the ends of the second cross piece,

and our toboggan is now complete.

It may now be laden with two or three hundred pounds of merchandize

and will be found to draw over the surface of the snow with perfect

ease. For coasting over the crust there is nothing like it. Such a

toboggan as we have described will easily accommodate three boys,

the one at the stern being provided with a sharp stick for steering,

and the front occupant holding firmly to the draw strings. The

toboggan is easily made, and will do good service either for traffic

or sport.