W8108 ARTICLE BY [later REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN
Feb 25 1903
"SNOW-SHOERS FOLLOW THE HOUNDS"
Montreal Quebec, February 25, 1--Last Saturday, for the first time on record, a fox hunt was organized by the principal snow shoe clubs of this city, in which snow-shoes followed the hounds in their chase after Old Reynard. Curious as it may seem to most New Yorkers, to whom the snow-shoes of the Canadians look even more hopelessly unwieldy than the wooden sabots of the Dutchmen, snow-shoers' steeple-chases have long been a recognized feature of winter sports in Quebec, where a cross country record of five miles in thirty six or thirty seven minutes is considered by no means extraordinary. But to attempt to keep up with a pack of fleet fox hounds mounted only on snow shoes, was an idea which does not seem to suggest itself as a feasible scheme even to the keen sportsmen of the northern metropolis, until Mr. Arthur Lamalice, President of Le Montagnard Snow-Shoe Club conceived the novel idea which was carried out last Saturday.
Although the weather was not at all favourable, and a high wind and driving snow made it impossible for the hounds to hold the scent for any length of time, and so no wily fox fell a victim to the web-footed hunters, the experiment proved to the satisfaction of the expert snow-shoers who took part in it, that with soft snow covering the ground to a reasonable depth, they could hold their own in a race with a pack of hounds without much difficulty. For while in places where wind and sun had put a hard crust on the snow, the hounds, running as easily as on the bare ground, walked away from the field entirely. As soon as the soft snow was struck again, the long swinging gait of men with the winged-shoe quickly closed the gap which separated them from the plunging back.
The event was participated in by about fifty members of the principal snow-shoe clubs of Montreal, Le Montagnard, the Holly, Lacuna and St. Lambert clubs all being represented. It was a gay scene at the start, as at the blast of the huntsman's horn, the pack of hounds dashed off over the glistening snow, their long tails waving in the air, and followed by a motley throng of blanket-coated men, with tuques, sashes and stockings of every color of the rainbow, and every conceivable combination of them.
Soon the hounds gave tongue from a bush of half grown birches, and tore across field and fence with the hunters in hot pursuit, clearing the half submerged fences like expert hurdle-racers. Then a sudden gust of wind drove the snow right into the faces of the dogs, and dropping the scent, the pack paused bewildered, giving the well-winded field a chance to catch up before they picked it up, and then were off again with the big hound "Ranger" in the lead. Another bush and two or three more fields and, as the pace begins to tell, the runners string out in groups according to their several ability while sashes come off and coats are thrown open to the breeze.
Crossing a creek, one luckless runner goes through the ice to a chilly bath, and drags himself out just as the man behind clears the hole at a bound. Another, in taking a fence jumps short, the tail of his shoe catches on the rail and the frame snaps like a match stem, but he goes right on dragging the broken piece behind him like a dog with a broken leg.
Noseworthy, the champion steeple-chaser of the year, takes the lead with half a dozen Montagnards and Holly boys right at his heels, the red tuques of the former with their long red stockings coming up to the hips, making them look like boreal Mephistopheles, as they cover the ground with the long loping gait of a courier des bois. Now the course stretches over a windswept field, and running lightly over the hard crust the hounds leave the humans far in the rear. Now the scent runs along a fence where the snow is drifted deep, and the broad-footed hunters skimming over the surface catch up with the floundering dogs. Now the trail doubles back, and the straggling field, seizing its opportunity follows the chord of the circle instead of the arc, and falls in at the heels of the pack.
And so the chase went on, until finally after a run of eight or ten miles the scent was once more lost, this time for good, and the wearied hunters started on the run home to the Canadian Hunt Club House, where they bounced their genial hosts as high as the ceiling of the quaint old French manor would permit, and over the bounteous supper congratulated each other upon the discovery of so fascinating a sport and plotted the outwitting of Brer Fox.
1 It is not known if this article was ever published, although Calvin was working at the Montreal Herald at the time. See also Calvin's mother's letter of Feb. 26, 1903 (W4810, W8160, W4821).