As the owner of several pairs of Chestnut ‘Ojibway’ snowshoes, I found this topic to be of particular interest, especially the stamped company identifier on the OP author’s shoes. (You’ll see the word spelled Ojibwe, Ojibwa, and Ojibway, but Chestnut referred to them as Ojibway.)
I obtained the first pair, Chestnut 12 x 60’s, about five years ago, along with an unmarked pair of 11 x 54’s, from a neighbour who was downsizing, and last year, another pair of Chestnut 12 x 60’s, found in a local antique store. On the unmarked pair, there is an outline in the varnish of a decal, but it’s not the same shape as the Chestnut decal. The three pairs of snowshoes, however, are similar in every way. It’s possible that the unmarked pair could have been manufactured by Chestnut and sold under a private label, as was the case for some of its canoes. (By the way, as with the OP’s shoes, on all three pairs, the size markings are on the frame adjacent to the front crossbar, not on it.)
After Chestnut closed its doors, the assets, including the canoe forms, were dispersed. It is not unreasonable to assume that the snowshoe forms and related materials could have been acquired by former Chestnut workers experienced in snowshoe construction, who then continued manufacturing them. Lacking the Chestnut decals, perhaps the rubber-stamped name was used to maintain the marketing tie with the well-known former manufacturer. Of course, it’s also possible that the company, struggling in the last years, simply stamped them, to avoid the expense of ordering another batch of decals.
Until they folded in 1978, Chestnut always set the ‘gold standard’ in Canada for snowshoe manufacturing, and that activity was a very important revenue stream for the company. In his book WHILE THE CHESTNUT WAS IN FLOWER, author Roger MacGregor explains why canoe building and snowshoe manufacturing are such complimentary businesses.
He relates, “Soon after it started building canoes, the Chestnut Canoe Co. also began making snowshoes. Like canoe building, this art was also adopted from the native people who practiced it as part of their ancient culture……..”
He goes on to say that, “The adoption of snowshoe-making was not incidental. When practiced on a commercial scale, canoe building is notorious because it uses its labour and its production facilities to the full only during the fall and winter. This is when the stock of canoes has to be built for the orders which come at a rush in the spring. It must have become apparent early on that the business would benefit if it could make some commodity in the warm season to bring in sales revenue when the snow flew……”
In their 1913 Canoe Catalog, Chestnut devoted seven of the forty-eight pages to their snowshoe line, which gives an indication of the importance of that line to their business. Many of the subsequent catalogs mention that they still built snowshoes, telling interested customers to write for a copy of their snowshoe catalog.
Chestnut’s main Canadian competitors in the snowshoe field were the Wendat (Huron) natives in Lorette, Quebec, where the Huron wood-canvas canoes were also built. In 1968, ten years after the demise of Chestnut, just two of the companies there reported making over 25,000 pairs of shoes. These were marketed Canada-wide, and sold by retail department store chains such as Eaton’s, sporting goods and hardware stores, etc. Over the years, manufacture of snowshoes there has been consolidated with two companies, G-V and Faber, which can trace snowshoe manufacturing back to 1883. Only G-V makes traditional wood and rawhide snowshoes now, Faber having thrown in the towel last year and concentrating on their more modern snowshoe line.
I’ve attached some photos and additional information; a shot of the Chestnut snowshoe decal, two pages from the 1941 Snowshoe Catalog showing the Ojibway shoes offered at that time and also the Price List, which gives a good indication of the wide variety of snowshoes available, plus a photo of five pairs of my Ojibway shoes - the three pairs mentioned at the beginning of this post plus two pair attributed to the Moose River Cree first nation.