Franco-American Snowshoes

Penobscot Racing Shoes
Penobscot Racing Shoes c. 1900


(sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Dashing o’er the snow
Jumping fence and drift
O’er the fields we go
Upon our snow shoes swift
Blue tuque [hat] on our head
Snow shoes strapped on tight
Oh what fun it is to tramp
Out on a moonlight night.

Tramping boys, Tramping boys
O’er many a mile we go,
Oh what fun it is to tramp
Across the trackless snow

Mishaps at times we meet
As o’er the snow we dash
Sometimes a strap we break
Or perhaps a shoe we smash
Sometimes we get a spill
And away we sprawling lie
While up there goes a merry shout
From the fellows tramping bye.

Among Maine’s Franco-American communities, snowshoeing or tramping was a popular winter recreational sport for men and women. Snowshoe clubs, such as the Rochambeau and Voltigeur Clubs, arose in Biddeford and Saco and continue to this day. Club members wore distinctive uniforms including blanket coats, toques and sashes in club colors. Club activities included social events, such as tramps or hikes through scenic areas followed by a dinner and dancing, snowshoe races and even snow hurdles.

Racquetteurs, Biddeford, 1927
Maine Historical Society, image 111