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.
The Kinsmen Club of The Pas have administered this all-important facet of the Trappers’ Festival since 1963. Festival has the unique opportunity for spectators to follow the race visually from start to finish. Because of the stamina and skill required by the mushers and dogs, they must train for long periods prior to the race, and they come internationally to enter this most prestigious event.
See how the Kinsmen prepare for this event on the Kinsmen website
Edwin Lambert, 1949
2023 Race Times