July 18, 2009

Cutting-edge toboggan company

St. John’s student has high hopes for toboggans

Written by Amy BowenGabriel Harren, 24, a St. John’s University philosophy major, proudly showed off his downhill toboggan one steamy afternoon. He gingerly sat down on the red oak sled on a patch of grass just outside his St. Joseph home.

It’s the best-made toboggan in the world, Harren said as he showed off the delicate curl of the front with a touch of familial pride.

The start of winter–Dec. 21–is still months away. Yet Harren, a senior from Warroad, wants to develop his family’s toboggan business into a year-round endeavor.

The Warroad-based business started in 1995 is seasonal right now.

Harren, a natural salesman with a bright smile and inquisitive brown eyes, believes his father’s business, Northern Toboggan & Sled, is on the cutting-edge in the industry. Harren and his older brother, Jackson, want to market the business to the masses.

“It just screams potential,” Harren said. “There’s so much (of) a need. We have what it takes to fill the need.”
And:John Harren, a carpenter and wood worker, was referred to the trade by his uncle, a priest in Canada. His sleds are used by the Native American tribes, the Dene and Cree, in northern Canada. He also has sold sleds in Europe.

“There’s no place in the world like northern Canada where the sled is an integral part of life,” John Harren said.
Comment:  "A toboggan is a simple sled that is a traditional form of transport used by the Innu and Cree of northern Canada."

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