Little house on the lake.

Every winter a blanket of snow settles on Manitoba. Any lingering snowbirds swiftly point themselves southwards and most warm blooded creatures delve into the deepest burrows they can muster. A rare few venture out to establish themselves on the bleak landscape, in pursuit of the cold blood that lurks beneath their feet. Walking on water, they hunt with an auger and a fishing rod.

Each hunter carefully chooses a spot on the frozen expanse that is Lake Winnipeg and, in a flurry of ice dust, a small hole is created to bridge winter worlds; from air, through ice, and into water. A thin line is dangled through the gap, facilitating a thread of communication via a primal system of twitches and bites. The hunger on one end competes with a hunger on the other – reciprocal, yet disjoint.

The ice fishing shelters that dot the wide horizon of Lake Winnipeg have as much character as the hardy individuals within them. Plain and colorful, fresh and weathered, minimalist and extravagant…the contrasting traits from one homemade hut to another are a beautiful thing.

Being out in the depths of winter highlights the important human traits of adaptability and resilience. We are capable of great strength in the face of arising challenges, and we must remember this and in turn rise up ourselves. Resilience only can come through temperance.

Lake Winnipeg Autumn Freeze Up

Dark ice forms on Lake Winnipeg in late autumn, momentarily visible before a white blanket of snow covers it for the winter.

Great grey owl in a bare tree

A great grey owl sits sentinel in bare branches along the lake shore, waiting in rapt silence.

Snow drifts cover Lake Winnipeg at dusk

Winter truly arrives with a fresh blanket of snow. Untouched drifts cover Lake Winnipeg at dusk.

Ice fishers out of truck

Morning breaks with a crisp freshness of its own and a family ventures out onto the ice to make first tracks.

Unsheltered ice fisherman out of car

The only requirements of ice fishing are: 1) A way to drill a hole through the ice and 2) A fishing rig to bait the fish. You can keep it as simple as this man who drove his car onto the ice with merely an auger and line, or…

Lone ice fishing hut on horizon

…you can build a shelter for a little more comfort from the elements. With a wood stove, even wearing a jacket becomes optional as you sit and try to catch the interest of a fish in the depths below.

Ice fishing village near Gimli Manitoba

Ice fishing villages pop up on Lake Winnipeg near Gimli.

Grid of 9 ice fishing hut portraits

Each ice fishing hut is as unique as the character who built it.

Line of colourful ice fishing huts

As the seasons persistently march on, the snow begins to darken towards water once again. A thinning line of ice fishing huts dwindles along with the snow. Winter is short for those who enjoy it.

Truck ice fisherman at Hecla Island

Fishermen stake out one last spot for a final day on the ice, taking advantage of every frozen moment. Staying out well after the sun has set, it is winter’s blue hour in more ways than one and everyone knows it.

Frozen Lake Winnipeg landscape

And just like that the frozen landscape…


Lake Winnipeg summer sunset

…returns to its liquid state once again. The cycle continues.