Justin Trudeau impressed with castle built of snow and ice by former St. Lazare resident


PHOTO BY JUSTIN TRUDEAU

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes a selfie with Yellowknife Snow King, Anthony Foliot, during a recent visit to his ice castle.

Justin Trudeau may have come in for a warm welcome in Washington earlier this week, but here in Canada during a visit to Yellowknife just days before - and where he spent some time with a former St. Lazare resident now living there - his reception was much chillier.

Which was perfectly understandable considering that the prime minister was being shown around a giant castle built out of snow and ice by Anthony Foliot, known as the Snow King, and his team of dedicated volunteers who have been constructing this major tourist attraction for the past 22 years as a unique setting for a month of concerts, films, children's performances, and even pancake breakfasts inside a majestic palace of snow.

Said Foliot in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal, “He appeared to be very impressed and while the local media was hot on a story they quoted from someone's Facebook page which stated I was giving him tips on how to deal with Donald Trump, I was actually telling him that programs like Katimavik - a registered charity which educates Canadian youth through volunteer work - are beneficial to all young Canadians who are at risk of falling through the cracks. And I strongly urged him to re-instate the program his father created to make Canada stronger.”

As for the castle itself - the brainchild of Foliot when he first moved to the Northwest Territories - once again he and his team of fellow Yellowknifers have spent a large chunk of their winter building it on Great Slave Lake beginning with crews harvesting 430 slabs of ice from the lake back in November.

It includes a Great Hall, which features the stage, a pub-style booth, cathedral-style windows made of ice, and even a VIP lounge with ice tables and chairs and a bar serving mainly hot chocolate.

"We're a winter city," explained Foliot. “So when I moved here I thought we should have something more than just a two-day event, which is the whole idea behind the castle while promoting Northern art, musicians, and performing artists.”

PHOTO COURTESY ANTHONY FOLIOT

This expansive castle in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is constructed completely out of snow and ice by former St. Lazare resident Anthony Foliot who’s been dubbed the ‘Snow King’ by the town and his community. The finished product came in for big praise by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit there last week.

Added Foliot, “It actually began as a labour of love built mainly for the kids. But today, with some 30 volunteers including 10 builders, four carvers, and board members, we are attracting thousands of adults and youngsters every season until it melts in the spring.”

“In the early years, we worked largely with bricks comprising blocks of snow cut from the lake. But for the past 10 years or so, we have used a snow-blower to pack snow into forms of over 400 such blocks where it sets before going into a wall or a ceiling almost akin to concrete.”

One particular component of the castle did seem to especially impress Trudeau, he added. The fact that it is hooked up to the power grid, largely due to a crew very conscious of their carbon footprint.

Said Foliot, “It's bad enough that we have to run a tractor and heat the place with a portable heater, but to have generators running 24/7 would be terrible.”

The Snow Kings XXII Winter Festival wraps up March 27 and for more info check out their web site at www.snowking.ca.

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