Greetings from the peaceful sunny frozen shores of Great Slave lake.

Our 23rd snow castle begins to take shape as we are almost half way through our build season for the Snowking’s Winter Festival.

I count it a great pleasure to have found my way onto the Snowking crew for my seventh build, and this year I am very humbled to be charged with the responsibility as crew chief, to take the helm and to guide the process of building the castle.

We have cut and stacked our ice into rows and have started to square our edges, creating diamonds from the dross.

We have begun to stack our ice panels up proud for the ice windows. We have shaken all the grass off our forms and have stood our walls and beetles to create our hallways and grottos. Our quarries have been filled with snow as we have started to cut our snow blocks with four foot saws.

If this all sounds a little foreign or obscure, it is because we have created our own techniques and language of how and what we build.

Our snow castle is of our own creation every year. Our process is democratic and our methods collaborative and creative. I take note daily that it takes a small army of benefactors, patrons and volunteers, supporting partners, involved friends and family to enable us to accomplish the large task of building a castle, made almost entirely out of snow for our community.

The castle-making project for Snowking’s Winter Festival is an annual spectacle on Yellowknife Bay. Here in 2012, Snowking Tony Foliot pulls an ice window out of the water. Cutting a window involves clearing the ice, marking the shape, sawing the block on all sides and then hauling it out. NNSL file photo

Some people … well, most people to be honest, think it a bit strange that we would commit ourselves to such a strange and outlandish project.

Braving the cold on a daily basis to build something that has no permanence. Something that melts and disappears as soon as the sun gains strength and prominence in our ever changing northern skies.

It is nothing short or strange, a 5,000-square-foot structure made out of water that is suspended by cold, molecules that have become slow moving and frigid due to the cold air around them. Snow pours like water out of the end of a large snow blower and takes shape as it is compressed and packed into plywood forms and revealed as grand hallways, tunnels platforms and 40 foot long slides.

It is a magical experience being apart of it and helping the snow castle to take shape.

But one of the main reasons that we all participate in such a venture, is because we love the feeling of accomplishment and of exertion.

The winter can feel harsh and long. The days get shorter and the city sometimes feels oppressed by ice fog and cold. But when we embrace this cold, put on our snow suits and bring a good attitude, we get more than a good dose of Vitamin D.

We sweat, and earn our sore muscles and get a good work out. We become encased in frost as we finish our hard work and cool down at the end of the day, and it feels good.

If you wanna shake off those winter doldrums, get warm and work outside. Join us or go chase a sundog that stretches across the whole sky.

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