Never underestimate the power of snow and ice.
In 1979, a few people got together in Ottawa and started carving snow on Dow’s Lake at the head of the Rideau Canal.
The result was crude art, but it drew crowds.
The next year there were more sculptures, and they were better.
Before long, the works became much more sophisticated.
Powdered paint was added, and, to the delight of young boys, you could climb on some of the sculptures.
They were the focal point of a fledgling winter festival known as Winterlude.
Today, the festival has spread throughout the city and draws an estimated 1.6 million people to the capital every winter. Snow and ice sculptures have spread throughout the city.
We mention this because the art carved out of blocks in the Shipyards Park last weekend were light years ahead of those original sculptures on Dow’s Lake.
That’s not too surprising. The art of snow carving has spread internationally, and the techniques have been refined and honed, as evidenced by the amazing works on the waterfront.
Much of that is thanks to the dedication and imagination of a team of local guys. The Yukon has a team of talented snow carvers who have earned the respect of the world’s snow-carving community.
Donald Watt, the leader of this group, has now brought his substantial experience to stage this festival, with considerable support from city tourism officials.
The city is better for their efforts.
Thanks to their work, Rendezvous has a new energy, as evidenced by the crowds that attended Shipyards Park on the weekend. In fact, people were still wandering around the sculptures on Tuesday night.
Yes, defying the odds, they are still there, intact.
Of course, they are fleeting creations. If the vandals don’t get ‘em, the sun will.
But, while they last they have a magic about them that is irresistible.
From rough blocks of ice and snow, talented folks can, in the space of a weekend, reveal the depth of their imagination for all to see. Amazing.
So head down to the park. You won’t be disappointed. (Richard Mostyn)