Every year as the Kennebecasis River freezes over, the faithful drag their shacks onto the ice at Renforth to fish for smelt. There’s always an interesting selection of huts, most with wood or propane stoves. I’ve always thought the village represents a cross-section of local society. There are high-tech soft-sided shelters, full sheds with windows and siding, “converted” campers and stick-frames covered in tarpaulin.
I’ve never taken the opportunity to wander through the assembly, but this year I found the time and exposed some film on a cold afternoon as the sun was retreating behind the hills.
The group is set up in neat rows, as if the fish below have an appreciation for an orderly neighbourhood.
Some of the older-style units bore the experience of being used for years, maybe generations. The soft-sided shacks looked very cold indeed, not benefiting from a stove.
Some of the creations were a flagrant expression of their makers’ ingenuity, if nothing else. People will craft what they need from what they have.
On the other end of the spectrum, this cozy villa has a deck, stove, porch light, generator and an outhouse chained to the opposite corner. The owner could probably get $50 per night through AirBNB.
A couple die-hards were making due with lawn chairs and coffee, showing either a surplus or distinct lack of dedication depending on your vantage point.
In many places augered holes are left abandoned. It would be easy to break a leg, so photographer beware. The ice would groan and squeak and bubble in places, not a welcome feeling. Between the shacks I can hear radios, conversation. The excited sounds of a struggling catch drift with the woodsmoke.
As the sun set, looking down the river I could feel the temperature dropping quickly. The last of the cross-country skiers made their way in and I followed them to the parking lot.
Images are from the Rolleiflex MX and Ilford HP5+.