1 Feb. 2007: Fairbanks: FUR (M. Sturm)

Much of the history of the North is tied up in fur. Before there was synthetic clothing, long before pile and Patagonia, the warmest clothes were made from animal fur. I once heard a wonderful lecture about the importance of the eyed-needle (that is a sewing needle with an eye, just like the ones we use today). It seems that until women invented the eyed needle and learned how to sew with it, men didn't have clothes that could let them remain active outdoors in cold places like the Arctic. And if they were active and outdoors, they weren't hunting. No hunting...no food. What did they sew with these needles? Fur. So you might say no one would be living in the North if there wasn't fur (and women to sew garments).

Even with the coming of the Westerners, fur was still King of the North. The Hudson Bay Company, and later the Northwest Company, vied for furs from the First Nation peoples. For these furs they traded western manufactured goods, particularly tobacco and firearms. From 1700 right through to WWII, fur was still the main economy of many places i n the North.

Why fur? It is so warm. My best piece of gear for the cold has been my fur hat. Unfortunately, my hat is worn out after many years and trips, so I went back to Suz Kisken for a new hat (Suz Custom Furrier, 907-455-6643). I arrived just as Dan was finishing up a fitting for his new hat. On a trip like SnowSTAR 2007 we wear these hats almost 24 hours a day. Yep. We even sleep in them.

The pictures show Dan getting his head measured for his hat, some of the furs that Suz works with, and then me and my wonderful new hat. I suspect you will see the same hat later in other pictures. Glen, Jon, Dan, and I all have hats made by Suz. Watch from during our trip.




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