Just before the final touches were put on Yellowknife’s famous Snowcastle this year, a young local boy approached Anthony Foliot, a.k.a. the SnowKing, with something to give him. “It was a piece of last year’s castle, and he said, ‘I kept it in my mom’s fridge,’” explains Foliot. Deciding something special had to be done with the boy’s gift, Foliot and his crew formed two hands out of ice to cradle the piece. It’s now an integral part of this year’s castle – a symbol of continuity in the SnowKing Winter Festival, one of the Northwest Territories’ longest-running, best-loved traditions.
Today, Foliot is seated on one of the benches set up in the castle courtyard, sporting his classic white SnowKing beard and vivid blue coveralls. Nearby, youngsters shoot down a mini-snowslide and climb on a web of ropes. A longer slide, with dual chutes, rises just behind them.
Now in its 21st year, the Snowcastle is full of such flourishes. “Every year, we’re pushing for better and bigger,” says Foliot. The first castle was a modest structure Foliot built for his children. It proved so popular that it became a local tradition, and then a cherished annual event, drawing visitors from across Canada and beyond.