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Published: June 11th 2016
In the early days of New France in the 1600s, most traveling was done by canoe, but as more settlers arrived and opened up the wilderness, and especially after New France became British North America, they needed better ways to travel on ever-present snow during the long winters, and on elementary roadways the rest of the year. In other words, conveyances both elementary and advanced, large and small, pulled by horses, became the standard means of travel. As cities emerged and commerce grew, people needed to travel in all kinds of weather, and in groups large and small. Quebec thus developed a flourishing industry with over 30 major companies engaged in sleigh- and carriage-making.
Mr. Paul Bienvenu, a well-known horse breeder in Bromont, Quebec, began some 50 years ago to collect, document and restore as needed every type of horse-drawn conveyance used in Quebec from the 17th to the 20th centuries, including sleighs, carts, carriages, cabs, calèches, and more, used by ordinary folk all the way up to the wealthy and high-ranking. Today there are over 200 in his priceless collection, which he has generously donated to Quebec's Museum of Civilization.
Recently I had the pleasure to view 18
of them handcrafted from 1770 to 1940, lent to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, within Canada's National Capital Region. Here are photos of some of them, and I've tried to present the most important information about each one right after it; but to savour the entire experience and ambiance, you should visit the museum before 17 April 2017. For more info go to http://www.historymuseum.ca/horsepower/
. As usual, to see any photo full size, click on its thumbnail.
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