Category Archives: shoes

Kamik Love

Wearing my Kamiks

When I lived in Pangnirtung in 2009, I admired from a far people’s kamiks.  I really wanted a pair.  I was preparing to live in the south again, where I couldn’t wear them all the time…as with some things in life, the timing was not right, so I waited. This summer when I was hanging out with my friend Rosemary I mentioned how I wanted a pair of kamiks.  She told me then my Grandma makes really nice kamiks and often sells them.  She told me what price to expect to purchase a pair…and I stored this information away.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago.  I had the opportunity to visit the Arctic College Campus here in Pang.  I visited the Fur Production and Design Class.  The students were very busy quietly working away on the sewing their kamiks.  I was in awe looking at the group of women working. My inner crafter and seamstress that I haven’t tapped into was SCREAMING out to me…I so wanted to join their class!  Every student had decided on a different design…so many beautiful styles and patterns to choose from.  Mary Battye is the elder that is teaching the art of kamik making.  Yes, it is an art.  Before you even pick up a needle to sew…there are hours of skin preparing that have to take place.  I no expert, and don’t know all of the steps to create a pair of kamiks–but trust me it’s a lot.  Mary is also Rosemary’s Grandmother.

Top Left to Right: Mary and myself tonight when I went to pick my Kamiks up at her house. (excuse my bad hair!); Mary working on a different pair of kamiks at the college; Bottom Left and Right: Students from Arctic College working on their kamiks

With the help of one of the other students, I asked Mary if she’d make me a pair of kamiks. I had to ask for help because Mary only speaks in Inuktitut. Mary agreed.  Mary took a good look at my ‘big’ feet, and ‘muscular’ calves–that I can never get leather boots to fit around! A few days later I faxed over an outline of my foot…(I was worried that with all the work to make a pair they wouldn’t fit right, because of how big and wide my feet are).  I shouldn’t have been worried.  They fit so well probably the best fit of ANY shoe I’ve worn my whole life! Put on the spot of how of trying to decide what kind of design to pick I couldn’t. So I asked if I could think about what ‘design’ I wanted and I’d let her know the next day.  

I’m so happy I choose the flower design.

Today I went to pick them up!  It was like Christmas came early… last night I knew that they were ready, and I honestly had a hard time sleeping because I was so excited. They were perfect. They are gorgeous. They are mine!

Here’s a close-up of my Duffel socks, such beautiful embroidery along the top.  The Duffle socks also have a little slipper that goes over the foot of the sock.

After getting them home, I kept looking at them…turning them over examining them from every angle looking at all the stitches, and the details!  I think they look pretty snazzy on.  However, I already know I’m going to have to learn how to walk in them without totally wiping out. When the wind blows the snow out of town, it polishes up whatever snow was left on the roads.  The result is pretty slipper roads.  Sometimes it’s a battle to stay upright in my southern shoes…but with Kamiks until you get use to walking in them are a bit tricky.

Traditionally Inuit woman would chew on the bottom skin to mould it to form around a foot.  There is a ‘tool’ that helps with this process now.  But some women still believe in the ‘traditional’ way of chewing.  I forgot to ask if mine were ‘chewed’ or shaped using the ‘tool’.

It's all in the details! My handmade parka beside my kamiks.

If you haven’t already guessed these are made out of sealskin.  Hunted by local hunters…where all parts of the seal is used-for food and clothing.  The hides used to make these kamiks haven’t been tanned.  So to store them I have to keep them cold-or they will rot, and the fur will fall off. Which isn’t that big of deal.  The other thing I’ll have to get use to is the smell of sealskin…although when a friend looked at them, and smelt them they said they weren’t as smelly as they could be.  But they do smell like sealskins!

Winter storage place in my 'cold porch'...Summer storage will be in my freezer.

I’m so happy that Christmas came early!  Mary did a fabulous job.  They are gorgeous and such a work of art.  They were worth every penny plus so much more.


Kinmount Shoe Trees…

On the May 24 weekend in 2010, I found myself driving along Hwy 45–a short cut  my way to Haliburton to visit family.  As I drove past the “Kinmount Shoe Trees” I said to my mum, “I NEED to take a photo of this!”… So I pulled over her car… and I stopped to take some photos of the “Kinmount Shoe Trees”.  I blogged about it HERE.

(I re-looked at my photos and re-edited some of them… and some of them that might not have made the blog originally)

I’m glad I trusted my instinct, seized the moments and took some photos…because the shoe trees have been taken down.  You can read about that on the Kinmount website. It was kind of neat to see on this page that they had linked to my ‘original’ post about the Kinmount Shoe Trees.  Thanks for the link love!

I guess the local city councilman felt they were ‘ugly’ and a ‘hazard’ along this ‘highway’ because people were always stopping alongside the road to add shoes or take photos. (on the day that I stopped I didn’t even see a car along the road for a good 20mins!)  I suppose those are very real reasons why to stop a tradition..but those excuses fall a bit ‘flat’…seems kind of harsh to take down something that is WELL known in your community!  Why not embrace the art-sculpture…and ask the if anyone in the community could help pick up garbage etc… why distroy something that won’t be there for the next generation? I suppose they were thinking that the tourists don’t need to see crazy shoes on a tree–that’s not what they leave the city for!

Through all of this I finally got my answer WHY the trees actually started along HWY 45… it is my hope that some of the ‘left-over’ shoelaces find their way to a new home and a new tree!

When I read about the trees being gone…I was sad.  A memory from from when I was a kid was gone, something I remember driving past as a kid wondering how all those shoes got there…and now it’s gone.  It got me thinking…

People might think that I deal fairly well with change.  I admit for someone that has lived in 2 provinces, 1 territory, another country, and countless numbers of cities & towns in the last 13 years…I do deal fairly well with change.  I’ve learned to adapt…but I have a secret that helps me adapt.  It’s the ability to come back to my ‘home-away-from-home’ that is also known as Haliburton.  Although sometimes these homecomings can be a bit bitter sweet.  Part of me still imagines that EVERYTHING will be the SAME when I return as it was when I left.  I left the Fall of 1998…I was a few months shy of my 19th birthday, excited to embark on my first adventures at university.  My mum was moving at the same time to another city… so I never got to return frequently on my university breaks-I ended up visiting my mum in the new city.  Sure I always managed to have a few visits at the Summer cottage, but it wasn’t the same as if you mum still lived in your home town.  I was so excited 3 summers ago when she got a job back in Haliburton and moved back!  That meant I did have a residence when I returned to Haliburton. But I will always be connected to Haliburton, you see I have family connections in Haliburton that go deep… and I’ve talked about the ‘family’ cottages on Haliburton Lake before.

Part of the reason I can travel is that I have my back-up my ‘home-away-from-home’ its a role Haliburton has always played for me and hopefully will always exist. Because of this I have branched out and created homes for myself wherever I happen to be living! But when I return to my ‘home-away-from-home’ sometimes I get sad when I see small changes around town.Or walk down the main street and say “Hi” to someone that doesn’t recognize me.  I also wonder what changes I’ll see when I return for Christmas in a few short weeks.  I know that changes have to happen…heck in the 13 years since I’ve not lived in Haliburton left I’ve changed as a person and grown–so only fitting should the town change too.  I know places evolve and get better. But this process is so hard for me, when I come back and notice that something’s different…a building has been left to decay…or a building has been gutted, parking lots have changed the IN and the OUT…(and I still can’t remember what the ‘new’ way is…).  I wish things could just STAND STILL and be just like it use to be!

Maybe part of me is worried that someday I’ll come back to my ‘home-away-from-home’ and I won’t recognize it…and it won’t recognize me…I’ll just be another summer tourist walking the main street, being talked about the ‘locals’!



There’s this stretch of road between Norland and Kinmount that I love to drive on… I’m not sure why… but there’s all these SHOES hanging from trees…and just sometimes I have to stop to take some photos…
The funny thing is these ‘caution’ signs are no where near any ‘overhead wires’…they are actually like 4 feet from the ground!
Apparently this tradition isn’t just for ‘shoes’ there’s a baby doll, flipper, rubber boots, you name it… it’s probably there!!
If any of my readers can answer the question of WHY? this awesome stretch of road started… I’d love to hear the story!!