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Curated Submission
Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
21 x 18
Materials & techniques
Moosehide, caribou hide, silk, porcupine quills, horsehair; Tanned, sewn, embroidery, beadwork
Dene or Metis seamstress
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 2010.001.004
This pristine pair of adult-sized moccasins is from Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories. They are made of smoked, tanned moosehide with silk embroidery, porcupine quill plaiting, and horsehair piping on the vamps. Cuffs of unsmoked, tanned caribou hide run around the heels and hide the ties that keep the ankle wraps closed.
These moccasins came back to the Northwest Territories via the Tremain family, kindly donated in 2010 by Gwen Tremain Runyard of California. Her parents, Reverend Walter Spencer Tremain and Lottie Tremain, were originally from England but spent five special years in the Northwest Territories when her father was with the Anglican Diocese of the Mackenzie River and her mother was a teacher and photographer. They acquired many handmade items between 1914 and 1919 while living in Fort Norman (now Tulita) and Fort Simpson. Their collection includes other moccasins, jackets, mittens, belts, a shelf valance, and models of bush tools and equipment.
Tremain Runyard writes in her memoirs that when her parents left the Canadian North for New Zealand they received many parting gifts. Her mother loved to wear moccasins and received around 20 pairs. She put this pair and one other aside to save for posterity and over time wore out all the other pairs. As a child thousands of miles from Canada, Tremain Runyard says she “used to bring out all these glorious works of art and play with them, but was always careful not to harm them as they were, even then, so precious and so beautiful.” Tremain Runyard inherited a feeling for the people, places, and time embodied by these treasured family objects nurtured by her parents’ fond memories.
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