Ice-fishing season may seem a long way off, but the team at Catapult Industry in Saint John is already taking orders for custom-built ice fishing shacks.
Every winter an ice-fishing village is set up on the Kennebecasis River, and Jeremy Robinson, Catapult's furniture shop manager, is hoping to get his team building shacks before the water freezes over.
Catapult is a construction company run by Outflow, the organization behind the men's shelter in Saint John.
"We actually train and employ people who have barriers to employment, whether it be during recovery from drug addiction or if they've been incarcerated or have some learning challenges," he said.
"Every dollar spent that goes through our construction and furniture shop is going to help change lives."
Robinson said a wide range of structures can be seen on the ice every year, from people sitting in camp chairs over fishing holes to over-the-top structures with wainscotting and leather couches inside.
His team is open to building whatever the customer wants, giving them a chance to be creative with the design and work with the construction crew to bring their vision to life.
"With anything custom, and especially with us, we want it to be perfect," he said. "We want it to be absolutely personal to you."
He estimated it takes his team of 10 about a week to build the average ice shack. The cost could range anywhere from $1,000 for a simple shack to thousands of dollars for something more extravagant.
Smaller shacks can fit in the back of a pickup truck and be transported to the ice that way, Robinson said. Larger ones require a trailer, something Catapult can provide.
The shacks can be used year after year, although minor repairs, such as the replacement of tarps, may be needed.
Robinson said he likes using cedar wood for the shacks, since it is lightweight and weathers the elements well. His team can also put metal roofs on a shack if desired.
Robinson is hoping his team will build at least five shacks this year. Orders can be placed by contacting Outflow by phone or through its website or social media pages.