Nova Scotia

New Ross man builds giant igloo using snow, water — and kitty litter boxes

Billy Lenihan may not be as eager as some to see spring. He spent all winter constructing a huge igloo in front of his house in New Ross.

'I built a small one last year in front of the house. This year, I just decided to make it bigger.'

Billy Lenihan of New Ross always wanted to build an igloo. This winter, he made the time to do it. (CBC)

Igloos are something you expect to see in Canada's North, not in New Ross, N.S.

But Billy Lenihan decided back in December that he was going to build an igloo. A landscaper, Lenihan's work dries up in the winter, so he looks for a project.

No one expected his igloo to be as high as his bungalow, but once he got started, he couldn't stop.

Lenihan examines the inside walls of his giant igloo in New Ross. (CBC)

And on Monday, the last full day of winter, he completed his project.

It wasn't any easy job and Lenihan said there's no easy answer as to why he built it so big.

"I have no idea, to tell you the truth. I built a small one last year, in front of the house. This year, I just decided to make it bigger," he said.

"In the wintertime when it's storming, you can come outside and pick at this."

He estimates he put about 800 hours into the structure, which has a door and window.

"It's peaceful … and the light comes in, it's pretty."

Lenihan made numerous trips up this six-metre ladder as he put the roof on his giant igloo. (CBC)

The roof took some engineering, which included making ice blocks out of kitty litter boxes, of all things.

Lenihan said he used pieces of two-by-four wood and piled the ice blocks on top.

Completing the roof meant finding remnants of snow, collecting them with a shovel and heaping them on top of the structure, using a six-metre ladder.

Once Lenihan piles up enough snow, he grabs the hose and starts spraying. He does this several times through the night, which is why the walls are so thick.

"The walls at the bottom are five feet of solid ice."

His neighbours, like Ricky Naugler, weren't sure what to make of Billy's project that kept on growing.

Ricky Naugler, Lenihan's neighbour, said the igloo was a way for Lenihan to keep busy. (CBC)

"I wasn't really thinking about what he was doing. He was off, he wasn't working. He must be trying to keep himself busy," Naugler said Monday.

Lenihan covers his igloo with a tarp to protect it, especially if there is a big rainstorm.

He figures the igloo will last until May and, given the thickness of the ice, he won't be surprised to see ice in the
front yard in August.

Lenihan said he hopes next year the whole community will get involved in building a giant, three-storey snowman.

Lenihan sprays the walls of his giant igloo to build layers of ice. (CBC)