Culture of the ice shack

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This ice shack belonging to Pat Wood is decorated proudly for the Pimp your Shack challenge as part of Dryden’s annual Winterfest. Sporting an outdoor washroom facility, and Christmas lights to show the way, this shack took honourable mention. Photo by Ally Dunham

Some would think we are a little smidgen of crazy, sitting in a small wooden box, drilling holes in the ice to get tonight’s supper.  Driving on the ice, building fires on the ice, and heated bathrooms on the ice?

The ice road in Dryden has been home to dozens of different families and different ice shacks over the years.  They shanty’s can be seen in various places all over Wabigoon and Dinorwic Lakes at any given time throughout the winter.  So what is the pull to this hobby?
Fishing, first and foremost.  Socializing is a major factor, and getting away from the wife is probably a part of it too.  Some of the shacks you may see are a home away from home, with running water, beds, couches, stoves, and yes, even a heated porta-potty.  Oh, and of course, a couple holes drilled through your living room floor.
Pat Wood, a first year ice shack dweller, says the sense of community is amazing.  “It’s very friendly down here.  My ice auger has been broken for a month, and I’ve never had any problems asking people to do me a favour and dig me out a whole.”
Wood says with seasonal employment, he spends a large amount of time in his shack, and it’s rather new to him being an original resident of Nova Scotia.
“I think it’s pretty neat,” said Wood.  “Where I come from, the only ice fishing that takes place is Cape Breton.  It’s a really neat culture and the people are a lot friendlier here on the ice.  It’s like everybody is your neighbour.”
With the Winterfest activities taking place at Van Horne Landing, there were hundreds of vehicles parked on the ice road on Mon., Feb. 21.  Some muttered hesitations of that many vehicles in one small area, but some residents of Iowa thought it was pretty amazing to see.
“I think it’s a great thing, a little city comes out and goes fishing all day,” says Randy Cheers of Des Moines.  “I think it’s neat, the different ideas, the different creativity like the palm trees.”
Winterfest also marked the annual “Pimp Your Shack” challenge, which saw some very interesting sights that one would not normally coincide with an ice shack.  Pirates chests, hula skirts and pimp hats do not normally scream fishing, except that one day of the year in February.

By Ally Dunham

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