Some houses are just cooler than others, like the one Derek Parker built in his backyard in Brossard, south of Montreal.
“I refer to it as an ice castle,” he grins.
It’s his version of an igloo that he built with blocks of ice, just for fun. He got the idea from something he saw on TV and figured he’d give it a shot.
“I was originally building it for the kids and I ended up converting it into a playhouse for myself,” he laughs.
It’s actually a sports bar, and being a hockey coach and hardcore Montreal Canadiens fan, he’s made it pretty clear what the theme is.
There’s a Habs jersey behind the bar and a Canadiens puck with sticks built into the ice at the back of the room.
He gets his buddies to come by and watch Habs games, even if the team isn’t doing well, and they joke about switching allegiances.
His cousin John Parker jokes, “we tried to find a leafs jersey but we couldn’t!”
“Yea I’m not so sure that’d make it in here,” Derek retorts.
Derek says building it was a difficult task, that took more than 100 hours.
“I started December 14th and I finished January 8th,” he explains. “So, I go to work every day, come home, and I’m outside until about midnight!”
To make the blocks of ice he froze water in 105 plastic buckets he got from his cousin.
“Yeah, so, I had to come down and see what he was doing,” says John grinning. “I’m happy — now I don’t have to worry about recycling them!”
Getting the ice from the buckets wasn’t simple, either.
Derek says he had to jump on them to dislodge the ice.
In total, there are 568 blocks of ice, cemented together with slush.
Constant repair is needed because small holes keep forming, especially when it gets warm.
When it rains, he covers the whole thing with a tarpaulin.
The structure is about 10 metres by three, or 34 feet by 12, and the roof is just a white tarp over pieces of lumber screwed into the ice. At night, it lights up thanks to bulbs built into the ice.
Derek says his family thinks he’s crazy.
“They say it’s dad’s project. That’s why I didn’t really get help,” he says. “Who wants to come out here when it’s -20 C?”
His son Justin laughs saying he helped a bit: “Well, I had one idea — the hockey sticks with the Montreal Canadiens puck built into the ice.”
He says he also helped to install the lights. Now he think it’s pretty cool.
Derek likes his man cave, and if it continues to bring people together, he might just do it again next year.
“If I’m not gonna use it, if I’m going to look at it through my window, it’s all wasted energy and time,” he adds.
“But if I use it, it’s time well spent, in my opinion.”