Yellowknife’s Snow King is a well known guy about town. From December through February, he is busy building a huge snow castle on the ice of Yellowknife Bay. In March, the month long Snow King Festival is visited by almost everyone in town. But what does he do in November….when the bay is frozen but there isn’t enough snow to start building? He collects ice, that’s what.
Ice King collects ice for the windows of his snow castle…. about 40 windows in all, in blocks 5 or 6 inches thick and about 2 feet high by 3 feet long. He saws the fresh ice with a giant ice saw and stacks the window blocks carefully to await construction. This year Ice King has a new ice saw, courtesy of Dave Smith, who salvaged it over 30 years ago from the old, derelict, Gros Cap fish plant ice house. The fish plant, located in Devil’s Channel about 80 km south of Yellowknife, operated as a fish processing plant in the 1950’s. Ice was cut in the spring and stored in the sawdust filled icehouse to keep the fish fresh in early summer.
Once the windows have been collected, the Ice King continues sawing for a few days, “just for fun”. He arranges the pieces artistically in “ice gardens”. This is where I usually come in. Every year I spend hours photographing these ice scultpures, trying to capture some of the tiny, frozen universes trapped in the free standing ice.
Now, in late November, the ice is getting too thick to handle easily. Ice King is finished for the year. Long live Snow King.