Ice castle rises on Sylvan Lake

Aaron Spyce, center, Delayne Corbett, left, and Will Rice, right, use chain saws, chisels, and a sander like tool to smooth the top layer of ice before using a skid steer to set a new layer of ice onto the walls of what will be a 10 foot tall ice castle. The ice castle is being build between the skating rinks on Sylvan Lake and will feature battlements on its top tower.
by NATASHA SCHMALE/Advocate Staff

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Sunday was a perfect day to be on the lake whittling ice.

The warming temperatures and blue sky were just what Delayne Corbett and his crew hoped for.

“It’s just a pristine day with minus 10 which is ideal for the ice and perfect for the sculpture,” Corbett said during a break in building a castle.

The 11-metre-by-eight-metre block structure is under construction between the skating rinks created each year by the shoreline just off the main beach area.

Corbett said during colder weather around -30 degrees makes the ice brittle and more difficult to work with.

He was hired to build the three-metre high castle by the town and the Heart of the Town Association to boost winter tourism.

The town wants to build on the ice castle theme in future years. It’s hoped more sculptures will can be added in the future.

The sculpture will afford skaters a chance to duck into the enclosure to warm or take a respite.

The drive to attract tourists will feature a four-on-four hockey tourney and a pond hockey tourney running from Jan. 22-25 on the lake.

The work attracted several onlookers Sunday.

“I think it’s just a great idea and will certainly add a lot to the lake view,” said Ed Howard, who was watching progress with his two kids.

Jason Howard, nine, said he can hardly wait to get inside the walls and look at the ice.

“I hope it doesn’t melt for a long time. It will be fun to skate in and out the doors and chase other kids,” Jason said.

Luanne Fairbrother said the castle should last a long time and will remind everyone there’s lots to do in the winter.

“It’s been so cold lately it’s really nice to have something uplifting like this come along,” she said.

The lake was a busy place with numerous ice fishing lodges in action and several people skating.

Corbett was in his third day of work and had at least two more days to build the main framework.

“I’ll then a few days working on refining things such as colours and benches for sitting and windows.”

The top tower will be surrounded by battlements.

Corbett spends eight to 10 hours a day on the castle.

He said about 300 blocks of ice weighing a total of 26 tonnes will be used.

The ice was shipped from Vancouver and is made by Polar Ice and sold by Arctic Glacier of Edmonton,

Corbett, 36, who now lives in Victoria, said he sculpted his first ice creation on New Year’s eve 1999 in Edmonton at its First Night Festival.

He helped organize the Ice on Whyte festival for seven years.

He’s also worked on sculptures for a festival in Charlottetown, PEI and the well-known Quebec City Winter Festival.

Corbett became interested in carving first working with stone about 15 years ago.

A member of the Alberta Sculptors Association Corbett said he took a seminar in ice sculpting.

“I took to it like a fish to water,” he laughed.

Corbett expects the castle to still be standing for the annual Sylvan Lake Winterfest celebration on Family Day on Feb. 16 which features a polar dip in the lake.

“I wouldn’t be surprised” if the ice castle lasts until the ice melts on the lake this spring, Corbett said.

“The castle creates a cone of cold which will last a long time,” he said.

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