It should be no surprise to those of us who have lived through a Quebec winter that a French Canadian from Quebec City would be the founder of the first snowshoe club in the United States. (I can hear Gilles Vigneault’s voice in my head, singing, “Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.”)
According to the Franco-American blogger, Juliana L’Heureux, Louis-Philippe Gagné founded the first American snowshoe club in Lewiston, Maine in 1924. Gagné had been a newspaper sports editor in Quebec City before arriving in Maine in 1922. He later became the mayor of Lewiston.
Gagné also promoted the establishment of several other snowshoe clubs in the Lewiston-Auburn area. By 1925, the clubs were numerous enough to host the first International Convention in downtown Lewiston.
In her blog post about Gagné, Snowshoe Clubs: Maine’s le club de raquetteur, Ms. L’Heureux also writes about the history of snowshoeing in Quebec and the migration of Quebec workers to Maine.
Read more about Louise-Philippe Gagné and les raquetteurs on the Maine Historical Society’s Maine History Online.