chapter  7
An ethnohistory of dogs in the Mackenzie Basin (western Subarctic)
ByPatricia A. McCormack
Pages 47

In 1977, I spent seven months at Fort Chipewyan, an historically important fur trade center on Lake Athabasca in northern Alberta, doing dissertation research. I brought my two dogs along. One was an Alaskan Malemute, and the other, a Siberian Husky-Alaskan Malemute cross. They were companion dogs – “pets” – but I also had them carry laundry for me in their blue Gerry packs when I walked from my cabin at the western edge into town, where I had access to a washer and dryer. During one of those trips, an older trapper, clearly taken by the sight, stopped me on the trail to tell me about how he used to pack beaver skins in the spring on his own dogs. My dogs came with me everywhere, on my daily visits to people in the community and on trips into the bush. They were loose when we walked in town, though I tied them outside people’s houses while I was inside. They were much admired for their beauty and friendly nature, although local people probably considered pet sled dogs to be yet another outsider quirk. Fort Chipewyan was at that time transitioning from an era of dog sleds to snowmobile transport, and the fur trade itself had been facing significant challenges since the 1950s. There were, however, still many sled dogs in the community. Had I stayed for the entire winter, I would probably have put my dogs in harness too, but it was not till many years later that I hitched another Malemute to a sleigh.