Souliers de boeuf

Years ago, when I was involved in the Great Lakes Fur trade I became very fond of  my heavy cowhide moccasins.  This type of moccasin was made in Montreal for use by the voyageurs.   The cordonniers of Montreal also used this basis pattern to make a high top moccasin called souliers de boeuf.  I have altered a set of my heavy cowhide Dyer brand moccasins to this style.

Reference:  The Voyageurs Sketchbook.  

P.S.  Alfred Jacob Miller portrays his subjects as wearing pucker toe or Ojibwa style moccasins.  These were common in the Great Lakes area and parts east.  According to the map on []  pucker toe and center seam moccasins were used by the tribes in the north-east and south-east parts of North America, most tribes west of the Mississippi used a side seam or two piece with a hard sole.  Rex Allen Norman in his 1837 sketchbook questions the depiction of pucker toe moccasins by Miller, as does Landry and Chronister in their article about mountain clothing from the Book of Buckskinning Vol.VII.  From my study, I believe Miller shows the pucker toe because most of Stewart’s party were French-Canadians.  Antoine, Pierre, Auguste and Jean are all described as being French-Canadians or Canadians.  Being on a hunting excursion from St. Louis they may have brought clothing and gear from back home rather than trade from the Indians.  Even if they had to make new moccasins while on the trip it is reasonable to assume they would follow the pattern of their existing items with which they were familiar and comfortable.



About Gabe the Shootist

I am retired from public service, a trained gunsmith, pump mechanic, an old pipeliner, passable electrician, carpenter, truck driver, amateur blacksmith, proof reader, experienced hunter, shooter, reloader, avid canoeist, Renaissance man, jack of all trades, all around good guy (with the caveat: I won't be insulted, lied to or laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them.).
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5 Responses to Souliers de boeuf

  1. Ron says:

    You’ve made a great alteration, I’m always looking for ways to improve foot ware. Doing most any primitive activity in the mountains requires the feet to be comfortable.


  2. BTW- Those “asterisks” are likely to have been the marks left by the leather workers tacks that would have held the vamp in place on the last.

  3. Max says:

    That is such a wonderful Moccasin! just what I am looking for. want to wear them in daily life as a full time traditional craftsman (Austria, Ontario) as I work with handtools only, leather, greenwood and knives. (Woodsmans Finest) Any suggestion would be highly appreciated. Native american /First Nations crafts got me involved in crafting as a boy and is still a main inspiration! Your hightop addition looks like elk or moose hide but somewhat oilier. I would appreciate help with this! my first moccasins i made from my mothers oven mits at age 10… I always loved them I guess! cheers and cudos for some great work!

  4. Stitchdown says:

    Hello! Amazing article, I’m actually working on a big story for my site on beef shoes and other native and native-derived footwear and I was hoping that you might be available for a chat. You can reach me at ben [at] Thank you!! -Ben

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