British Columbia

This 'ski-ano' (yes, a piano on skis) is spreading joy in northern B.C. woods

Cross-country skiers on the trails of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club in Prince George, B.C., are being greeted by a surprise sight this season: an old upright piano sitting on top of four pairs of skis.

Rather than hauling it to the dump, the old upright is being hauled around via snowmobile in Prince George

Angela LeFebvre and Eric Hoffman are moving the piano weekly to create a scavenger hunt-style experience for the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club in Prince George, B.C. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Cross-country skiers on the trails of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club in Prince George, B.C., are being greeted by a surprise sight this season: an old upright piano atop of four pairs of skis.

The "ski-ano," as it's been dubbed, is the brainchild of general manager Angela LeFebvre who decided to put the piano, which formerly occupied the club's lodge, "out where the people are" in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

LeFebvre said the piano — which was appropriately built by the Winter Piano company — has fallen out of tune over the years and after an unsuccessful attempt to find a new home for it, "we thought how else can we repurpose it?"

Enter staffer Eric Hoffman who bolted old downhill skis to the bottom of the piano and then used a snowmobile to transport it to the trails.

The 'ski-ano' at the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club in Prince George in northern B.C. is moved around the trails by snowmobile. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

"A few people were like, 'Hey why did you waste a perfectly good piano,' but then we told them that it would have gone to the garbage dump if we hadn't done this and they're like 'OK,' " Hoffman said.

Some of the keys don't work and others are out of tune or sticking, but LeFebvre said it still seems to bring people joy as they stop to play a short tune while out on the trails.

"In a year that has caused a lot of stress and strain on people ... we're seeing a lot of happy faces and excited people," she said.

Rather than leave it in one place, Hoffman is hauling the piano to a new spot every week, creating a bit of a scavenger hunt and encouraging people to explore the club's more than 50 kilometres of trail.

The ski-ano in its natural habitat. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The club has reported record enrolment this year, something LeFebvre attributes to the fact many people are looking for new outdoor winter activities as COVID-19 restrictions prevent indoor gatherings.

"This is the place you can come to escape the pressures that we're experiencing right now," she said.

As for the ski-ano, LeFebvre said she's not sure how many seasons they'll be able to get out of the current model. But if other people have old pianos destined for the dump, "We'd love to make this an annual thing."

The CBC's Andrew Kurjata speaks with the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club's Angela LeFebvre and Eric Hoffman about why they put an old piano on skis. 2:39

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in unceded Lheidli T'enneh territory in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca. You can also send encrypted messages using Signal to 250.552.2058.

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