Photo Essay: Portraits of Canada's Ice Fishing Huts - Modern Farmer

Photo Essay: Portraits of Canada’s Ice Fishing Huts

Canadian photographer Richard Johnson sheds light on his country's preferred winter pastime, ice fishing (sorry, hockey!), one funky shack at a time.

Quebec Ice fishing is a highly social affair for Quebecois, who tend to let their freak flags fly. This dwelling, clad in buoys from the local lobstering industry, belonged to a man named Pierre. "An eccentric fellow, as most of these guys are," says photographer Richard Johnson.

Not that it has to be sophisticated. The basic requirements include a roof, four walls, and a hole cut in the floor through which to lure the catch of the day. Scrap plywood and repurposed two-by-fours constitute the most popular materials. Indoor amenities range from a woodstove or propane heater to a kitchenette or satellite TV. Though Quebecois are known for kitsch and Newfoundlanders for dogged wit, a certain patriotic scrappiness reigns supreme, which is why Toronto architectural photographer Richard Johnson turned his lens toward the makeshift homesteads. “All the work I do for architects is highly polished,” he explains. “I was drawn to ice huts because they are crooked and textured and every one is so different.”

Beyond Photoshopping out the inevitable yellow pee stains around these man caves, Johnson took a hyperrealistic approach – employing a straight-on angle, gray-sky lighting, and a chest-high horizon line – to bring the unique qualities of each shack into sharp focus. “I see them as portraits of the hut owners without the owners present.”

ice-house-saskatchewan-white

Saskatchewan Though the antlers are purely decorative, those red reflectors serve a purpose: protecting this Anglin Lake hut from post-dusk snowmobilers.

ice-house-saskatchewan-blue

Saskatchewan Pickup-truck campers are prevalent in Regina Beach. Note the gas-powered auger – the power tool of choice for making a hole in the ice.

ice-house-pei

Prince Edward Island Windowless huts dot the island’s 1,100 miles of coastline, allowing spearfishermen a clear view of their prey beneath the ice. This “darkhouse,” set atop skis, can be easily towed by a snowmobile, a four-wheeler, or a few gruff guys.

ice-house-ontario-white

Ontario Snapped on March 14, the last day of Ontario’s winter fishing season, this image depicts a hobbit-sized hut about to be pulled off Lake Simcoe atop a sled.

ice-house-ontario-light

Ontario Temporary power lines from the mainland allow the owner of this dwelling – part of a small village that appears every winter on the Ottawa River – to fish after sunset on a winter’s eve.

ice-house-ontario-green

Ontario An Ottawa River shack exuberantly complies with the province’s license-number laws.

ice-house-new-brunswick

New Brunswick Heavy snowstorms left much of the province – including this camouflaged Kennebecasis River cabin – inaccessible last year.

ice-house-new-brunswick-red

Newfoundland What this remote island lacks in material wealth, its people make up for in ingenuity. The owner of this shack MacGyvered an old washing machine to serve as a wood-burning stove. “They repurpose whatever they can,” says Johnson of Newfoundlanders.

ice-house-manitoba-rv

Manitoba The upside of Lake Winnipeg’s brutal winters? Extra-thick ice able to withstand the weight of relatively luxurious RVs.

ice-house-manitoba-red

Manitoba This plywood hut sports an “addition” on one end. “When a family expands,” Johnson explains, “they’ll knock out walls and build on.

ice-house-british-columbia-skis

Nova Scotia No bigger than an outhouse, this one-person shelter can be flipped on its side and scooted off the ice via side-mounted skis whenever Silver Lake’s mild maritime climate experiences a thaw.

ice-house-british-columbia-black

British Columbia In Canada’s least wintry province, “most people just drill a hole and sit on lawn chairs,” says Johnson, making this Charlie Lake structure a rarity.

ice-house-alberta

Alberta The folks of Alberta, known as “the Texas of Canada,” live large. Good thing, then, that the winter ice is thick enough to support six-person huts.

ice-house-alberta-maple-leaf

Alberta Like Texans, Albertans don’t hesitate to express regional pride.

 

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Related
Farm Favorites
Read the latest reviews on our favorite products.
Immigrants Feed America

Immigrants Feed America t-shirts are back – find them at the Modern Farmers Market

Things We Love: AKUA Kelp Jerky

If you told me there was a jerky snack made out of kelp - yes,... (more)

Things We Love: CleverMade Snapbasket Cooler

It can keep up to 50 cans chilled for up to 36 hours and collapses... (more)

Things We Love: Republic of Tea Daily Greens Single Sips

It's like green juice: but way easier.

More shopping