History & Heritage

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A Treasure for Over 350 Years - Good things were happening in New France in 1665. The New World colony had been under the tight control of the Company of One Hundred Associates since 1627. It capitalized on the fur trade while expanding French colonies along the Gulf of the St. Laurence and the river valley. But they were sporadically under siege from either native Iroquois tribes disrupting the fur trade, turf wars with the British, or conflicts with Quebec settlers resenting the company’s monopoly on trade.

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Job Description: Draft horses guided by riders pull baskets through the surf to harvest sea plants from ocean beaches. Did you know that on the east coast of Canada, horses pull baskets through the surf to harvest sea plants from ocean beaches?

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In England, the Romans were the first to build canals as irrigation or land drainage waterways. They used mules to haul boats loaded with cargo along those canals and it became a highly effective and economical way to transport goods. A horse towing a boat with a rope from a towpath could pull 50 times as much cargo as it could pull in a wagon on the road.

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Life for a 19th century cowboy was a steady routine of guarding cattle, moving them to grazing ranges, and driving them to market, often on long and difficult trails. But in those open range days, cattle belonging to one outfit would mingle and graze with cattle from other outfits. Twice a year in spring and fall, ranchers joined in a round-up of hundreds of cattle to sort out the different brands and reclaim their herds.

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In the summer of 1381, Anne of Bohemia, only 15 years old, left her home at Hradschin Palace in Prague in the Kingdom of Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic). Ahead of her lay a 1,100-kilometre trip on horseback across Europe to Calais, France, where she and her entourage would take a boat across the English Channel to England, to her arranged marriage to Richard II, the King of England, also 15 years old, whom she had never met.

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The relationship between horses and people in Canada is rich, deep, and ancient. And the story of horses in our country is as old as time itself. To understand the horse’s place in our lives today, we need to look back through the pages of history.

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Ever since the wheel was first invented around 3,500 BC in Mesopotamia as a wooden disc with a hole in the middle for some form of axle, creative Sumarian minds were buzzing. They were, after all, already planting crops, herding animals, and had a pretty impressive social order. But getting the wheel contraption right took a bit of creative genius. The holes in the centre of the disc and at the ends of the axle had to be perfectly smooth and round in order for the wheel to fit and turn. Otherwise, too much friction would cause breakage.

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