Edmonton musician's 'snow nest' is labour of love, brings out inner child
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 3:23PM MST
Sean Hillaby’s home in south Edmonton looks like any other, but there’s something very unique in his backyard.
Towering over the yard is a giant snow fort.
The 32-year-old Edmonton musician calls the nearly four-metre high structure his “snow nest,” something he’s been building every winter for several years.
“I built one a couple of years ago to deal with the horrible depression that comes with the winters here and I found it to be a very rewarding experience,” Hillaby said.
Countless hours are spent shoveling, piling and wheel-barrowing snow from nearby driveways to form Hillaby’s snow nest.
“It’s probably more time than most people would want to put into one but I find it a joy,” he said.
“The ongoing joke is that I’m a snow beaver. I feel the snow falling and I feel an instant urge to gather it, make a pile and build a home.”
The nest features a few chairs, a loft, some steps, a love seat and a counter space for drinks – all made of snow.
On the entrance hangs a sign that reads ‘Welcome to our nest.’
The ceiling is in the form of a dome – and last weekend Hillaby and his band The Tubsteppers, recorded and a music video inside the fort.
“It’s actually pretty popular for only being four days old we’re kind of surprised,” he said. “That was the first time I’ve had a full band in it.”
Band member Kimberley MacGregor says she’s never seen anything like Hillaby’s snow nest.
“Sean is an original,” she said. “It’s hard not to be impressed.”
Lindsay Thompson, who also plays in the band, said she couldn’t believe when Hillaby asked her to help build the snow nest.
“He said ‘bring over a shovel, come help me build a snow fort’, I thought ‘what?’” Thompson said with a laugh.
“I love it. It’s pretty cool, it’s pretty unique.”
This year’s nest is smaller than ones Hillaby has built in the past.
He says it has a much more “efficient” design and he’s not done with it quite yet.
“I’m thinking of building an archway that connects onto those two sheds so you just walk in and this big dump of snow might make it easy,” he said.
For Hillaby, his snow nest is a labour of love and brings out his inner child.
“When I quit my job to be a musician I realized that anyone who has a goal in life other than to become a child again – is completely missing out because children have it the best,” Hillaby said.
Hillaby and his band members busk at the farmer’s market every Saturday.
The Tubsteppers will also be playing at Brittany’s Lounge in downtown Edmonton on Feb. 9.