Nfld. & Labrador

As cabin fever gets worse, St. John's residents' snow fort skills get better

If Snowmageddon 2020 has left Newfoundlanders with anything besides a hefty snow removal bill, it’s a sense of creativity. 

Snow forts are one way residents are finding ways to pass the time

Keith Doran says he has spent hours in the snow fort he built. (Submitted by Keith Doran)

If Snowmageddon 2020 has left Newfoundlanders with anything besides a hefty snow removal bill, it's a sense of creativity. 

It could be the eight days of being stuck inside that has residents around the city building snow forts outside — like Keith Doran of St. John's, who dug a hole into a snowbank at the back of his property and moved in an electric fireplace, a television, PlayStation and a burner stove.

"I have had friends in here with me every night," said Doran, while putting some water on to boil.

I am going to remember this forever.- Keith Doran

"I did some awesome bacon pesto grilled cheese sandwiches last night and I am hoping to do maybe a little fried pan pizza later this evening." 

This is the entrance to Doran's fort. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Doran, who says he never once considered whether he's too old to build a snow fort, started the project three days ago and has spent hours in his snow cave every evening.

"It's the best. Everyone is asking to come over and everyone is more than welcome to crawl in and enjoy a couple drinks by the fire … listen to some tunes and hang out."

As the state of emergency in St. John's nears its end, Doran said he won't be sorry to see the fort go, regardless of the joy it brought him.

"It's OK, because I am going to remember this forever. This was one for the books, for sure."

Doran says building a fort was a great way to get outdoors and have some fun. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Julie Purchase was running out of snow day activities when she decided to dig a five-room snow fort. 

"I had too much energy and I am no longer allowed to decorate in the house anymore so I had to get outside and create something," she said, while lying on her back in the structure she built just outside of her garage.

Purchase said she spent hours digging, smoothing over the walls, adding decorations and now enjoying the space, often with a cold beverage.

Julie Purchase built this five-room snow fort, called 'the Yoda hut' after the Star Wars character. (Craig Purchase/Facebook)

Her family has named it the Yoda hut, after the Star Wars character, and to keep on theme they have stuck figurines from the '70s in one of the fort windows and included a plush Yoda toy. 

"That just kind of happened and it's taken off so we have embraced it as much as we could," said Purchase.

When asked if she is looking forward to seeing the state of emergency being lifted, she said, "Work will always be there but these memories that you are making they are unique and you will always have them.

"Stay home, enjoy your time with your friends and family. You have nowhere to go, you have no excuse to not engage and have some fun and relax."

Purchase says she spent hours digging out the walls. (Craig Purchase/Facebook)

If you can't get to the 26 C weather, bring it to you. That was the theme for Nicole Roper and fiancé Bobby Clarke's snow fort. 

"We were on Day 5 of the state of emergency and trying to think of something to do to keep busy and I just looked in the backyard and was like, 'We actually have a fire pit there somewhere.'"

Once they found it, Roper and Clarke built a little fort around it and what started as a laugh quickly grew into a full-on tiki-themed snow party, complete with umbrellas, blow-up palm trees, a mini-bar and margarita glasses. 

Nicole Roper and Bobby Clarke's snow fort has a tiki bar theme. (Nicole Roper/Facebook)

She said by the end of the evening about 15 people were sitting around the makeshift bar.

"We started just putting it up as a joke … just having a little bit of a laugh in the afternoon, just trying to stay busy and keep our mind off of everything that is going on," she said.


Roper says regardless of the cabin fever she and her friends have experienced, Snowmageddon 2020 could have been much worse.

"I think everyone is staying in good spirits for the most part, considering what we have been going through."

Check out some other slick snow forts posted online:

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Meg is a multi-platform reporter with CBC Toronto. She previously worked as a reporter for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador and CBC Windsor. She also was a member of the CBC Olympics team for the 2020 and 2022 Olympics. Meg covers a wide range of breaking news and feature stories. Email her at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?