While the cold weather in recent weeks has not been very inviting for people to spend much time outside, a Saskatchewan family has been embracing the outdoors in a royal way, no matter the temperatures.
Sean Frisky and his family have created an ice castle in front of their cottage on Echo Lake.
Now the group from Regina can enjoy drinks in their own Saskatchewan palace, including a fireplace and bar.
"That particular day [when we made the castle] was not fantastic," said Frisky.
"The morning started off at about minus 27 plus wind chill…. But we were done by 3:30 p.m. and cracked our first beverage."
Several years of experience building ice castles
This year's structure is not the family's first shot at building an ice structure like this.
Years ago the idea to create an ice bar quickly turned into an ice castle project, said Frisky, thanks to a neighbour who owns a special saw from the 1950s.
The machine was originally used to cut logs out of the ice for refrigeration.
"We've played around a lot with different ice features on the lake just to create something to get family and friends together and be outside and kind of embrace what we have here," said Frisky.
Today's castle is about 12 feet wide, 35 feet long and about seven feet high, according to Frisky.
The bar counter top alone weighs around 3,500 pounds.
"I don't know for certain, but it may be the largest privately-owned ice castle, if not in Canada, possibly in the world," he said.
"We moved about 65,000 pounds of ice."
LISTEN | An Echo Lake ice castle:
This year the group of family and friends improved its building technique by using a skid steer to lift the ice logs into position, said Frisky, speeding up the building process and cutting down the manual labour.
"We did it with six people," said Frisky.
"We normally take sort of seven hours, and this year with extra machinery, we were able to accomplish it in about four-and-a-half hours."
Cold temperatures are no problem, says Frisky
Since the ice castle has been completed, family and friends have been enjoying quite a bit of time in the open structure.
Proper clothing, the ice walls and the fire pit help to keep everyone warm, according to Frisky
During their first evening out, everyone stayed in the castle for around four hours despite temperatures dropping to –28, said the Regina man.
If people get cold despite the fire, a little insulated shack nearby with a wood stove is ready to welcome people to warm up again, he said.
"When we were done, the lake friends and family that came and helped build it, their families came over," said Frisky.
"Getting everybody around, that's pretty cool."
With warm clothing, Frisky encourages everyone to spend more time outside during the colder months.
He and his family love the winter at the lake as much — if not more — than the summer, he said.
"There's no excuse not to be able to go outside and enjoy it," said Frisky.
"If you don't take advantage of that, [winter] becomes very long."