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As the snowshoe evolves, so evolves civilization. Six thousand years ago, its invention was so liberating that humans were able to march from central Asia clear across the Bering Land Bridge and throughout the Americas. This humble instrument of human progress continues its slow advancement inside three workshops situated on the Huron-Wendat reserve in Quebec City. Here, 25 employees of GV Snowshoes still build the tennis-racquet-like Huron model that was the gold standard in winter footwear for several hundred years, but most of their attention is focused on aluminum shoes made entirely of Canadian parts—metal from Lac-Saint-Jean, plastics from Drummondville, paint from Saint-Georges-de-Beauce. The close proximity of suppliers makes for flexible production, a huge competitive advantage when a polar vortex sparks a sudden run on snowshoes. "It's been a crazy busy year," says Alex Maher, the company's technical representative. "But instead of having to call suppliers in China, we can call suppliers down the road." GV ships up to 50,000 pairs of snowshoes a year—all bearing a lifetime warranty—to Pakistan, Russia, Chile and virtually every other snowy realm. Next year, the company hopes to push that number higher with the introduction of a step-in model that replaces cumbersome bindings with a single lever. "The secret to our business," says Maher, "is we're in a perpetual state of evolution."

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