Winterberries are frozen into ice vases formed by 5-gallon buckets. So far, no one has bothered the wooden chairs, except for a bit of normal wear and tear.
Discarded Christmas trees are repurposed to form microclimates and reduce wind tunnels.
Southern facing sun pit is lined with coniferous trees to block the wind and deciduous trees above to let in the sunlight. The serpentine maze is for walking, with skaters, skiers, and sledders encouraged to stick to the machine-maintained trails nearby.
Maze builders Liv Valmestad, Kathryn Ready, and Serena Keshavjee sip hot soup (blended sweet potato, carrot, onion) and hot tea (fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise, lemon, and raw honey) between shoveling duty one recent Saturday.
Just around the bend, Marlene Stern and friends sculpted an ice lounge with more ice globes, frozen berries, and branches. Kick sled pictured here with my Irish Water Spaniel, Liadan, is from the excellent Icicle Garden (part of Bicycle Garden) in the next neighbourhood of Wolseley. Payment is by donation only for rental of skis, sleds, snow shoes, and fat bikes, with all proceeds going to Winnipeg Trails, who've groomed more than more than 30 cross-country ski and walking loops in city neighbourhoods, and say:
We are in the business of community-building more than anything else. We do that by connecting people with safe and comfortable ways to be outside and to move so that we can see each other face to face."
Poetry on Ice
To expand the community engaged with growing the maze, we ran a poetry contest on winter, with winning submissions getting frozen into ice along the way. As of the contest close on January 31, there are 22 winning poets. The ice globes that punctuate the poetry are made by freezing food or juice-colored water in balloons.
Back to the home front, the maze has been the welcoming committee for a much bigger initiative. Every year, The Forks welcomes winter with massive outdoor activities, usually including the longest staking rink in the world. This year, the trail is at its best thanks to support from The Winnipeg Foundation, celebrating its 100-year birthday as Canada’s oldest community foundation, where I am grateful to serve on the board. By January, The Centennial Trail reached 5 kilometers long of three trails groomed for skating, cross country skiing, and walking/sledding/fat biking. We worked closely with The Forks to provide early plans for the Serpentine Maze, to steer clear of this larger initiative and to fall in line with their ice safety testing procedures. In the past, the trail has stretched up to 14 kilometers, and unofficial beaten paths on the river are that long already, with other community members hosting other great pop-ups along the way. The Forks started grooming The Red River by late January.
In late January, the landscape got richer as The Warming Huts v.2021 winners were announced, an arts and architecture competition on ice, installed along The Centennial Trail. Since its inception in 2009, the competition attracts architects and artists from around the world, along with Winnipeggers to spend enjoyable time outside, despite being the third coldest big city on earth.
All photos are copyrighted by Hazel Borys