Snowy creatures emerge from blanket on Sandy Hill streets

Hilary Duff

Photo Hilary Duff

From snow families to front-yard igloos, Sandy Hill’s hobbyist snow sculptors have been busy this winter. Some of the most notable figures are found in the front yard of 360 Daly Ave., where Genevieve Waring and Corbin Stewart live (see photo on page 1).

“Since the pandemic started it has been quite bleak and I’ve been nagging my boyfriend to come out and help me make snowmen,” Waring jokes. “We had a really great snowfall and when we went outside we said, “Why don’t we try making bears instead?”

The result is two bears, a cat named Toulouse (named after a character from the animated movie Aristocats), and a rabbit that the online community Reddit has called Thumper. Each sports a red necktie made from upcycled yarn. The adorable creatures have become popular photo subjects in recent weeks, and the couple regularly see kids and adults alike posing alongside their creations.

Waring and Stewart have rented in Sandy Hill for the past three years, but lived previously in an apartment building where they didn’t have access to a yard. Now they’re making up for lost time. “We’ve gone all the way into the backyard to get as much packing snow as we can,” Stewart laughs.

From there, they divide their time. Stewart constructs the snowballs and Waring adds her artistic flare. Once finished, the sculptures are sprayed with water every couple of hours so they freeze in place.

A fun winter pastime, Waring says the sculptures have also provided a distraction from the reality of the pandemic. She is a freelance make-up artist and has been unable to work since COVID-19 began. “I’ve been trying to find more creative outlets to keep myself occupied during these hard times,” Waring says. “Art is definitely one of the things that I’ve always loved to do.”

She hopes the sculptures can provide the same temporary escape for neighbourhood walkers. “I want them to be something that people can look at and feel like a kid again, for them to see something that isn’t the news, that can bring joy to their day,” Waring says. “It’s nice to give something back to the community,” Stewart adds.

The couple plans to continue adding sculptures throughout the winter. A unicorn was added most recently, and they are already planning for more ambitious creatures like a dragon or a polar bear standing on its hind legs.

Only half jokingly, Waring says there is one way neighbours could help: “If someone is willing to donate a brick of snow, as weird as it sounds, that would be awesome!”

Not long after Christmas, the weather turned in time to bring families out to enjoy the packing-quality snow. These three balls were destined to become just one of several snowmen that made temporary statuary in Strathcona Park.
Photo Betsy Mann