CREIGHTON — There isn’t much debate needed - Trevor Altman and a group of his friends and family have created Creighton’s coolest hangout.
The front lawn of Altman’s Creighton Avenue home is now home to a giant igloo, one kitted out with LED lights and spacious enough inside to dance around. What has become an annual tradition for Altman and the group has taken on its biggest form yet - almost 10 feet tall at its centre, 14 feet in diameter, by far the biggest of its kind ever built in Creighton and possibly ever in northern Saskatchewan. It’s big enough inside for 10 people to sit comfortably, which Altman, friends and family did Jan. 28, bringing in pizza, hot chocolate and a TV and doing maybe the most Canadian thing possible - watching Hockey Night in Canada while inside the igloo.
Altman has been building igloos most winters since 2015, first as a hobby he and his family started while living in Carrot River, Sask. Over time, the structures have grown bigger and more elaborate, sometimes two, sometimes one, though the process of making them still involves some of the same steps - creating blocks of ice using molds and placing them, using snow as mortar and a light spray of water to hold the blocks together.
Such a project is far from an overnight undertaking and far more than just one person can do alone. Scaffolding and ladders were needed in the later stages this year.
Altman got more than a little help from his friends to put the igloo together, estimating that about 15 people did at least some work to put this edition together.
“We were trying to estimate how many man hours we spent on this… I think we figured out it was about 200 man hours,” Altman said.
That process changes each year, along with the basic blueprint of the ice house. Igloos made by the crew in the past included hundreds of blocks, each frozen and placed individually - this year’s igloo consists of almost 600 blocks and is so big that it’s earned its own new nickname.
“The last one we had, we called it the Bigloo,” Altman said - this one, as it’s bigger, has a similar name.
“This one is Mr. Bigloo - because when you’re this big, they call you Mister.”
The size means changes to the plan and how the group builds their masterpiece.
“Each year, we do something different - we tweak it, we figure out how to do it a little better. We did a lot of cutting bricks in place this year, as opposed to cutting them on the ground and putting them in place. That was a huge time saver,” Altman said.
“When you’re getting up this high and this large, you need more people. We needed one person on a ladder on the outside and then we needed a couple people on the ground passing us things, bringing up water bottles, buckets of snow, because we’d pack snow and water between each block.”
That comes with its own pitfalls - the finished igloo is totally safe to chill in, but the story wasn’t the same during construction. One of the volunteers, Altman’s daughter Lexie, ended up getting hit from above with a block that fell from the roof during construction.
“My wife Aimee took her to hospital and ironically enough, they told her to put ice on it,” Altman quipped.
The igloo will stay open as long as temperatures are cold - if temperatures get warmer, Altman blocks off the portal to keep people from coming in.
Many people come by and check the igloo out, Altman said, even coming on to his front lawn to come inside and see it for themselves - he said he’s fine with that as long as nobody damages the igloo.
“Most people are really good about respecting everything and I'm happy for that. The odd time, there's some garbage left in here, but most people are really respectful for it,” he said.
That comes with its own type of interesting encounters with visitors.
“Just last night, there was a vehicle in our driveway and I had to leave - I was waiting for them to move, then I saw kids running around the outside. I saw a mom come and she moved her vehicle… I left and when I came back, she was still there and I went out and talked to her and she said, ‘I can’t get my kids to leave’,” he said.
“They’re wrestling in there, they’re dancing in there and she can’t get them to leave. I’m like, ‘Well, you know what? You guys can stay as long as you want!’ And she was saying, ‘Please, don’t say that!’”