These horse-drawn vehicles became part of Canada’s winter iconography.

Written by Annick Desmarais

Posted December 13, 2022

During the golden age of horse-drawn vehicles in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, every village in Quebec had its carriage maker. These craftspeople built vehicles that met the needs of their customers and were well adapted to Canada’s harsh climate. The paintings of the Dutch-born Canadian artist Cornelius Krieghoff (1815–1872), turned Quebec’s horse-drawn sleighs into icons of the Canadian winter.

This sleigh, proudly made in Rimouski, Quebec, was known as a carriole portefeuille. It was designed to be used as a taxi, with its plain style and a driving space reserved for the coachman. Intended for everyday and utilitarian use, this sleigh is nicely ornamented with decorative lines, spindles surmounting the snow skirt in the front, and a sculpted scroll behind the headrest at the back. The ironwork of the runners also ends in scrolls, a common embellishment of the time.

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This object resides at the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City. 

This article originally appeared in Cinquante Merveilles de nos musées: les plus beaux trésors de la Francophonie Canadienne. The special interest publication was part of Projet Portage, a five-year initiative to connect history lovers in French and English Canada, generously supported by the Molson Foundation.

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