“When I moved to Whitehorse I started building with snow in my yard,” says Tyler Waddell,
owner of Rockhard Construction, and man behind the new snow castle at Mt. Sima.
“Stuff like snow-slides with Christmas lights, ice rinks. The plan here was to build it big.”
Waddell began building his snow castle before Christmas, just before Sima opened for the season. It started with MacPherson Rental’s generous donation of an excavator to carve out the initial shape. From there Waddell used a chainsaw to cut out blocks of snow, tiger torching each brick together – “so everything’s structurally sound,” he says.
Safety has been a huge concern of his throughout the project, and is actually one of the main reasons the castle exists.
“Kids can only do a run or two, then they’re beat,” says Waddell, on snowboarding with young ones.
“The idea is to have a very, very safe area for them to play in. Where I would feel safe leaving them while I do my own run.”
Part of this involved bringing his kids out in various stages of production and watching them interact with the castle. If they tried to climb up and over one of the walls, he would make that wall un-climbable.
And the castle keeps with the theme of downhill winter sports, featuring two large snow-slides coming down from each side; It’s a good idea to bring a sled. There are also coloured ice blocks kids can build with, and plans to put in a system of tunnels. A neighbouring igloo build is said to be in the works.
Waddell’s son Dylan, who is four-years-old, says the snow castle is “cool”. It was Dylan who gave his dad the idea.
His favourite thing about the castle?
But it isn’t just for the kids. “I really wanted to do it,” says Waddell.
“I can always find time to build something like this. It’s my passion, I have so much fun with a chainsaw in my hand.”
He’s always building, and says the castle isn’t a stretch from the kind of unique work he does with his construction company.
“It’s an attempt to get my name out there, and do something charitable. I’d always rather do something I can be proud of.”
Waddell is hoping to talk to some snow sculptors to have the castle more ornately carved for Rendezvous.
“Make it real castle-like,” he says. “I don’t have that artsy part of me.”
His castle will also turn into a beer garden with a DJ during Simapalooza, later in the season.
“So adults can enjoy it as well.” As far as Waddell is concerned, this castle is just his first. His plans for next year get even bigger.
In the Northwest Territories, Waddell tells me, there is a man renowned for the snow castles he builds. They call him the Snow King.
“I don’t know what’s bigger than a Snow King,” says Waddell. “But that’s what I want to be.”