Ottawa roommates build 'cozy' snow porch after record-breaking storm

Two roommates have a free new front porch (sort of) for their downtown Ottawa home thanks to this past week's record snowfall — and a lot of shovelling.

Friends spend 8 hours piling snow and tunnelling to their front door

Sean Wilson (left) and Patrick Ronayne stand in front of the snow porch they built in front of their Frank Street home after Tuesday's record-breaking single-day snowfall in Ottawa. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Two roommates have a free new front porch for their downtown Ottawa home, thanks to this past week's record snowfall — and a lot of shovelling.

Sean Wilson and Patrick Ronayne said they had built a front-yard quinzee, or snow hut, with what fell during Ottawa's first major snowstorm in late December.

So when more than 50 centimetres of snow fell on some points of the city on Tuesday, the pair started piling up snow from their driveway in the same spot of their Frank Street home.

Then they kept piling…

And piling…

And piling.

Sean Wilson (left) and Patrick Ronayne say they spent about eight hours (but zero dollars) on their new porch. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

"It started on the quinzee and it started going from the quinzee to our front door. And then it just got to the point where we thought we could make it a bit bigger," said Wilson, who's working on his PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Ottawa.

"Once we covered up the staircase we knew we had to go through with it," said Ronayne, a computer engineer by day.

The end result is a snow mound, front porch hybrid, with an approximately six-foot-high tunnel that goes up their front steps to their front door.

There's also a smaller seating area on one side, with two lawn chairs and some hollowed-out drink holders.

"It's our little extension we added on to our house," Ronayne said.

"We thought it was too cozy inside."

8 hour job

While this reporter didn't bring along a tape measure, the eyeball test suggests a snow pile that's around three to four metres at its highest point, tickling the eave over the front door.

"It's quiet [inside]. You're in downtown Ottawa but you can't hear a single car, you can't hear anything. The snow just insulates the sound," Wilson said.

"And it's actually significantly warmer than outdoors."

Ronayne said it took them five hours to build the pile with shovels then three hours to dig out the two hollows.

"We've had people come knock on our door just to ask us 'Is this real? Why would you guys do this?' And we say 'why not?'" he said.

The view out Wilson and Ronayne's front door. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Wilson said he's built quinzees in Gatineau Park before and hopes their giant snow fort can remind people to enjoy being outside in Canadian winters.

Ronayne said the project was a good way to inspire them to keep shovelling. Plus, since their walkway is covered, they shouldn't have to shovel it again.

They said the snow porch is "sturdy," and if it prevails through this weekend's warmer weather, it should partially turn into ice and last the rest of the winter.

In case you're worried for their safety, the pair have a back door to leave from in case the snow collapses.

And not only is it landlord-approved — their landlord apparently loves it.