'Snow place like an igloo to watch hockey

By RANDY RICHMOND, QMI Agency


Jake Morgan outside his quinzee in his backyard where he plans to watch the Canada hockey games this weekend. (Morris Lamont/QMI AGENCY)

When Jake Morgan settles down to watch Olympic hockey this weekend, he'll do it inside the ultimate Canadian rec room, with a naturally ice-cold beer at his side.

The London man and a crowd of lucky friends get to watch the games inside a nine-metre-high hut dug out of snow, also known as a quinzee.

"It's the ultimate man-cave," Morgan said. "Why do it? Why not? You get snow in Canada. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonades."

Complete with a built-in TV set, cable hookup and seating for up to 12, the snow hut was ready for Friday night's Canada vs. Slovakia game and the medal rounds this weekend.

Food and beverage were optional, but likely.

"We might have a few brown-bottle pops. That goes hand in hand with watching hockey in Canada," Morgan said.

"And if you're in an igloo, what else you are going to do? The beer doesn't get warm, so you can't complain about that."

Morgan comes by his love of outdoor snow buildings naturally.

"My dad made one in my yard for my sister and me. We ended up sleeping out there. I guess I was born into it."

Morgan, his wife Mercedes, friends and neighbours began pushing wheelbarrows full of snow into the backyard of his Carfrae Cres. home a few weeks ago.

"We've taken the snow from their lawns, front and back," Morgan said of his helpful neighbours.

"So, when it was a foot of snow deep everywhere, there were blades of grass on their lawns and our lawn."

Once the snow pile had settled a bit, the crew got out the metal shovels.

"Dig in, dig up and dig out," Morgan explained.

Crews dug enough snow out to leave walls and ceiling about two-thirds of a metre thick.

"The longer it stays here the safer it gets," he said. "The structural integrity actually increases over time because it turns into a brick of ice."

Morgan, a London real estate agent, made the quinzee much homier than a mere snow shelter.

He carved out a shelf for the TV - its back end sits outside, to keep the hut cool - and used about 25 metres of cable to bring the signal in from his indoor living room. Snow benches along the sides and back of the hut give everyone a clear view of the TV.

Morgan also has an extension cord ready to hook up a crockpot for chili, room for a few candles and air holes to let the smoke out.

There's no need for a heater, he said.

"The key is to keep your bum dry. You have to sit on something plastic and possibly on a towel or a blanket," Morgan said.

"As long as you're dry, you're warm because there's no wind in there. So it is actually warmer than being outside."

The more people he crowds in, the warmer it gets.

But there is limited seating, and Morgan warned those who got an invitation to the weekend games to RSVP him soon.

"I have other people who want to show up. It should be a full house."

Morgan is a self-admitted hockey fanatic. He's launched a Facebook site, Bring Outdoor Hockey to London! in hopes of getting 35,000 supporters for municipally-funded outdoor rinks in the city.

Lucky for him, his wife Mercedes loves the quinzee as much as he does.

"I can stay out of her hair. She can do what she's got to do without me getting in the way."

Even the family cat enjoys sitting in the hut, Morgan said.

The cat's name? No word of lie . . . Chilly.

"Not the food," Morgan said. "As in cold."

Randy Richmond is a Free Press reporter

E-mail randy.richmond@sunmedia.ca, or follow Randyatlfpress on Twitter.

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