Minette, 6, and Mateo, 4, have spent plenty of time outside this winter playing on the ice ship their father built out of ice in their front yard. (Photo by Susan Zielinski/Advocate staff)

Red Deer family sails through winter

Ship made of blocks of ice

A ship constructed of ice blocks makes for a cool winter playhouse for the White family of Red Deer.

This season Donnie White built the 3.6-metre ship on his front yard, at 25 Abel Close, instead of the usual castle.

“It definitely had its challenges. I never did anything like this before,” said White about the frozen ship, topped with a sail, that’s shaped like the old-fashioned wooden vessels that travelled the seas.

“It’s about 250 blocks. The blocks are quite big. Some of them are 40 pounds to 60 pounds,” he said about the structure that is about 1.5 metres tall. His children Minette, 6, and Mateo, 4, can climb on top or below deck. They can abandon ship on an ice slide that points towards the house.

Ice blocks carved into waves sparkle nearby in the snow. At night white lights make the ship glow.

He said yesterday his children and their cousins were inside the ship just telling each other stories. The family has also had picnics inside.

White said the best part of having the ship is playing on it with his kids.

“It’s a riot. We play on here every day. To me it’s just about the memories we’re going to share.

“Winter time can be really harsh for kids. A lot of parents just let them play video games all day long. For me it’s about getting them outside and excited about being outside. This is one way to do it.”

He said the ship should keep its shape until the end of February.

“Being that’s it’s ice it tends to last a lot longer than snow.”

He said it took about a week to harvest the ice from a friend’s private pond and another two weeks to build. After Christmas he added the slide. Slush made of water and ice was used to glue the blocks together.

“If you can build anything with children’s blocks, you can pretty much build whatever you want.”

Next year he could take on a new challenge.

“The kids are talking. They’d like the train next year. We’ll just have to see.”


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