Trappers' Festival History

Northern Manitoba Trappers' Festival

Originated in 1916 under the name The Pas Dog Derby, the festival continued until 1931 (except for the war years of 1917 and 1918) when economic conditions forced its suspension. The festival was commonly known as the Trappers’ Festival, but had formal names of The Hudson Bay Dog Derby, The Pas Winter Festival, and the Northern Festival. During the years from 1916-1931, the dog race took place over a distance of between 140 and 200 miles. The rest periods and feeding times were left to the discretion of the musher. The race was usually from one town to another, and included Carrot River, Cranberry Portage, Flin Flon, and Cumberland House.

The festival and World Championship Dog Race were revived in 1948 and have carried on without interruption since. Until 1976, the dog race was run in three daily laps of 50 miles each. The team with the best overall time was awarded a cash prize, and until 1960 received the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Silver Rose Bowl. In 1960, the Labatt Trophy, a beautifully engraved bronze plaque designed by noted wildlife artist Clarence Tillenius, replace the HBM&S rose bowl. This has been presented since that time to the musher who completes the three days with the best time. In 1976, the race was shortened to 105 miles and continues to be run in three laps timed on a daily basis for an overall best time.

During the many years of the Trappers’ Festival, the competition in the Fur Queen Contest has been extremely keen, exciting and rewarding for scores of beautiful, resourceful, and intelligent girls. Since 1916 these young ladies have been judged on talent, poise and personality.

The King Trapper Contest was inaugurated in 1955. The title is awarded to the fellow securing the most total points in all the various contests and sporting events. These events have hardy Northerners vying one against the other in contests which are indicative of the art and skill required by the early inhabitants to gain their livelihood and, in some cases, their very survival. Contests such as tree felling, wood cutting, wood splitting, canoe packing, flour packing, trap setting, muskrat skinning, tea boiling, bannock baking, moose calling, goose calling, and so on, each contribute cash prizes to the winners as well as points which add up to the total which might win the coveted King Trapper trophy and title.

Over the years, a number of other events have been included in Trappers’ Festival including Queen Trapper, Junior King & Queen Trapper, who events are similar to the King Trapper events – challenge women and youth in stamina and skill event. 

Trappers’ Festival also includes a variety of other fun and exciting things for all ages. Family fun events, pub crawls, stage & talent shows, youth events, scavenger hunts our famous Torchlite Parade and more have been added.

The Trappers’ Festival Board of Directors is excited to be planning for our 75th Festival and are planning on bringing some nostalgia back to festival with blast from the past sights and events to be announced.

Promotion of Trappers’ Festival occurs year round. We have a strong working relationship with local and regional media – both print and radio. In addition, we have a social media presence through Facebook and Instagram. In addition to the traditional methods of promotion, Trappers’ Festival works closely with other community groups such as the Kinsmen, Kinettes, The Pas Rotary Club, the Friendship Centre and The Pas Community Renewal Corporation.

Trappers’ Festival relies on average 200 volunteers each year to make our Festival successful. In addition to the few thousand visitors each year, our local community supports festival through volunteering as well as participating in events throughout the week.