If it’s cool and you dig it, enter it in Cool Digs


Advertise with us

Grab your shovels and get building.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

Grab your shovels and get building.

A new city-wide snow-building competition kicks off on Feb. 1 and runs until March 31.

Cool Digs, presented by Storefront Manitoba and Winnipeg Trails, is designed to inspire people to celebrate being outside, contest co-curator Anders Swanson explains.

Owen Swendrowski-Yerex packs snow into boxes to build a fort at St. John’s Park last week. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)

“This is the first time we’ve run this project and we want to turn it over to people’s creativity and whimsy,” he says.

Entries are divided into two streams: the first was for designers to submit “unconventional and imaginative” fort proposals by mid-January. Winners have until Feb. 15 to build their entries.

The second, the community stream, is open to all with weekly feature prizes for participants, including merchandise from Winnipeg Trails and Storefront Manitoba. Grand prizes of cash and a pizza party for the winning teams are also on the table.

“Neighbours, school classes, sport teams… it can be in your schoolyard, your backyard or your park… just take pictures of your finished entry and make sure we know about it by posting it on social media and tagging @winnipegtrails and @storefrontmanitoba as well as hashtagging Cool Digs to make sure we can see it,” Swanson says.

Pictures of snowy creations can also be emailed to cooldigs@winnipegtrails.ca or “you can frame it and post it to us, as long as we get to see it,” he laughs.

And whilst the structures themselves can be of anything, “it doesn’t have to be a sculpture, it doesn’t have to be a fort, it can be something in between. We want people to make cool things out of snow and we are deliberately leaving it open.”

There is one rule, however.

“It cannot include anything that can be left behind,” Swanson explains. “It has to be made out of snow, work with the snow. No plastic, no steel, and no wood. And that shouldn’t be a limiter.”

Swanson and his team have discovered interesting structures in people’s yards and across ski trails in the city, with quinzhees, forts, and snow houses already up.

Cool Digs entries cannot include anything that can be left behind, such as plastic, steel or wood (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)

The contest is a chance for Winnipeg Trails to complement its winter activities roster. Swanson would like to see it become an annual event.

Winnipeg Trails has previously partnered with Storefront Manitoba although this is the first winter collaboration for the organizations. Previously, the two groups have run Benchmark, an international design competition to create permanent installations along trails in the city and beyond.

“We’ve run Benchmark now for five years or so and we love it. It’s always smart to get a designer involved with solving a problem or coming up with a solution that we’ve never thought of,” Swanson says.

Cool Digs is linked to Winnipeg Trails’ Winterpeg programming, which includes organizing skiing events as well as running mobile ski libraries where interested participants can borrow skis, sleds and kicksleds.

“Whether it’s improving the quality of snow clearing on pathways or it’s connecting ski trails together or making the most of the river, it’s all about being proud of what we have in Winnipeg,” he says.


If you value coverage of Manitoba’s arts scene, help us do more.
Your contribution of $10, $25 or more will allow the Free Press to deepen our reporting on theatre, dance, music and galleries while also ensuring the broadest possible audience can access our arts journalism.
BECOME AN ARTS JOURNALISM SUPPORTER Click here to learn more about the project.

AV Kitching

AV Kitching

AV Kitching is an arts and life writer at the Free Press.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us

Arts & Life