Wooden angel rises from the puddle of an ice sculpture that fell to the pandemic

·2 min read
Kelly Davies poses in front of the angel sculpture he carved out of yellow cedar wood for his daughter's school, St. Nicholas Catholic School. (Pippa Reed/CBC - image credit)
Kelly Davies poses in front of the angel sculpture he carved out of yellow cedar wood for his daughter's school, St. Nicholas Catholic School. (Pippa Reed/CBC - image credit)

Last week, Kelly Davies loaded the sculpture draped in a white cloth from his truck onto a cart and rolled it over to the front entrance of St. Nicholas Catholic School in Sherwood Park, Alta.

A bouncy, chatty group of Grade 4 students — his youngest daughter's class — streamed out of the school, rubbernecking at Davies and the mysterious figure as teachers ushered them toward the benches in front of him.

Davies introduced himself even though many of the students had met him before.

Two years ago, he had come to the school and carved an angel sculpture out of ice around the same spot. The date was Mar. 11, 2020. Two days later, the school shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It just sat here quietly melting in front of an empty school," he said.

"I decided that I'm going to recreate that sculpture as a gift," he paused, choking up.

"It's okay," a voice from the crowd said.

"This one though shouldn't melt away," he continued.

He revealed the angel sculpture made of yellow cedar to a lot of  "Oh wows!" from the students, as he stood beaming at their reaction.

This isn't the first time Davies has created a sculpture for the school. In fact, he has been doing it since 2015, when his oldest daughter started attending the Kindergarten to Grade 4 school.

This is the last sculpture he will do for the school though, as his youngest graduates. In previous years, his kids knew he would be coming to school to carve, but this entire project was a big surprise.

"I only found out about it this morning," said Julia Davies, his daughter.

She found the gift really special.

"It's a gift to the school that will be here for a really long time," she said.

Pippa Reed/CBC
Pippa Reed/CBC

Apart from his tradition of making ice sculptures every January solely for the children, he has also done commissions for the school or presented other wooden structures as gifts. One is an owl sitting on a stack of books made of wood for the librarian.

"My oldest daughter is a book hound, so she wanted to do something special for the library," he said.

He has also built the school a buddy bench and a statue of the school's namesake, Saint Nicholas.

Davies has been an ice carver since 1999, but then he got his hands on some wood and never looked back.

"Six or seven years ago I touched the wood for the first time and realized that had been what I'd been looking for," he said.

Since then Davies has mostly done wood carvings at festivals and events.

"I'm not a carver for the sake of carving things and selling them. I'm a carver for the sake of sharing it," he said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting