Ice Carving

2023 theme: Explore the Folklore

This year our team of professional carvers are creating you a winter storytelling adventure on the theme exploring folklore imagery. Walk through Centennial Park and enjoy these ice carvings.

Bakunawa: Dragon of the Seven Moons (the story behind the sculpture)

Carver: Tony Baisas

The Bakunawa, also known as Bakonawa, Baconaua, or Bakonaua, is a deity in Philippine mythology that is often represented as a gigantic sea serpent. It is believed to be the God of the underworld and is often considered to be the cause of eclipses.

It appears as a giant sea serpent with a mouth the size of a lake, a red tongue, whiskers, gills, small wires at its sides, and two sets of wings, one is large and ash-gray while the other is small and is found further down its body.

Tales about the Bakunawa say that it is the cause of eclipses. During ancient times, there were seven moons created by Bathala (a deity) to light up the sky. The Bakunawa, amazed by their beauty, rose from the ocean and swallowed the moons whole. When Bathala became learned of the sudden disappearance of the moons from the heaven they grew angry and Bakunawa and Bathala became mortal enemies.

One fateful night, the people of earth awakened to witness the Bakunawa in the process of swallowing the last remaining moon, slowly enveloping the whole world in deep, abysmal darkness. The people of earth shouted altogether, and they screamed "Return our Moon!" and worked together to create a deafening chorus of ever-growing screams, moans, music, sounds, and banging of drums to stop the dragon. The dragon, frightened by the cacophony coming from the people of earth, hastily retreated to his caverns in the oceans while the deafening sounds grew louder and louder. The last moon, returned to the skies above, illuminating the night once again. The people rejoiced as the dragon returned to the underworld to wait for another night to gobble the last remaining moon.

To prevent this from happening again, Bathala planted bamboos that looked like “stains” on the surface of the moon. The bamboo trees can be seen as dark spots in the face of the moon.

The dragon never gave up. From time to time they would attempt to swallow the last remaining moon in the sky. But the people of earth remained on alert, ready to create thundering noises, guarding the moon in case of the dragon’s return. And as long as the bamboo trees are not killed on the moon, Bakunawa, will never succeed in his malicious deed.

Vision Quest (the story behind the sculpture)

Carver: Dmitrii Klimenko Co-creator Garry Oker

NááchÄ™ (Dreamers) are Dane-zaa people who travel to the Spirit World in their dreams and bring back songs. In their dreams, they see the ways in which people should behave towards one another and towards the animals who share the land with them. Dane-zaa, stories carry an intimate understanding of this co-existence that acknowledges the ties between human and animal spirit.

These two sculptures represent Dane-zaa stories of connection between people and animal spirit.  

A vision quest was an important part of Dene-zaa culture. When children were old enough, they were sent alone on a spirit quest in which they must contact an animal. Gone for days, each child would return with a spiritual connection to one animal. That animal is then the guardian spirit for the child, and imbues some of their powers and personality to the child. Through this vision quest, the child has also given of his spirit to the animal.

The animal connections depicted here are the Eagle and the Raven.

The Kraken (the story behind the sculpture)

Carver: Kevin Lewis

The Kraken was first recorded in waters surrounding Norway, Greenland, and Iceland over 800 years ago.   

The Kraken is described as a massive, huge, ocean beast, that resembles an enormous octopus or giant squid with many strong tentacles. According to the legends, the Kraken lives in the deepest, darkest and coldest parts of the ocean.  When ships pass over the Kraken drags the ships and crews to the bottom of the sea. It is said that a Kraken could take hold of a ship and drag it to the bottom of the sea with ease in less than a minute. Folk tales say that the Kraken causes whirlpools that capsize ships. The Kraken’s rank smell is said to draw fish to the surface of the ocean.

If a Kraken were about to attack a ship, sailors claimed that signs would foretell the coming calamity. For instance, if fish began surging to the surface and leaping out of the water, sailors believed that a Kraken was likely on the way. Alternatively, gurgling bubbles or an abundance of jellyfish would sometimes be considered signs of a nearby Kraken. Even though these signs were said to precede the Kraken, ships would not have enough time to escape. The speed and size of the Kraken made it a difficult beast to evade.

Kraken have been sighted in Canada. On the 26th of October 1873, near the eastern end of Belle Isle, Conception Bay, about nine miles from St John's, two fishermen in a small boat observed an object floating on the water a short distance away.They rowed towards it, supposing it to be the debris of a wreck. On reaching it, one of them struck it with his gaff. It immediately it showed signs of life and shot out its two tentacular arms as if to seize its antagonists.

The men, though alarmed, severed both arms with an axe as they lay on the gunwale of the boat. The animal then swam off at great speed and ejected a quantity of inky fluid which darkened the surrounding water for a considerable distance. They estimated the body to have been 60 feet in length and 10 feet across the tail fin, and declared that when the fish attacked them, it reared a parrot-like beak which was as big as a six-gallon keg.

The tentacle was given to a local museum in St. John’s Newfoundland.

The Jackalope (the story behind the ice sculpture)

Carvers: David DucharmeSusanne Ruseler

The Jackalope (Lepus Cornutes) is a medium to large lagomorph found only in small pockets of the Western United States, the largest populations being found near Douglas Wyoming and Groom Lake in Southern Nevada. Contrary to popular belief Jackalope are not the result of amorousness between an antelope and a jackrabbit, but rather they are a unique species of hare with pronged antlers that are only found in the United States.

Though little is known about the Jackalope, some knowledge of this rare and secretive species has been obtained through anecdotal evidence from cowboys and frontiersmen, and does offers some insights into their behavior and habitat. Jackalope are mostly found in areas of scrub brush and open spaces where their mottled brown fur and pronged horns provide excellent camouflage by mimicking the sage brush of the countryside. This canny ability to blend in with their environment is one of the main reasons there are so few actual Jackalope sightings or photos. The other factor in their continued anonymity is their sheer quickness. Jackalope are extremely fast runners- the fastest of all animals in North America and able to reach speeds of nearly 90 miles per hour over flat ground. They use this blinding speed to avoid trouble, but also will not hesitate to use their horns for self-defence by goring anything that is up to three feet off the ground. Jackalope will also scar trees and fence posts with their horns in order to mark their territory and as a warning to lesser predators such as mountain lions to just move on.

Unlike most other lagomorphs such as rabbits, Jackalope only breed at night during lightning storms. As the static electricity builds in the atmosphere, Jackalopes will begin to congregate under the night sky in preparation for their congress. On the dark best of nights Cowboys in isolated country have heard the vocalizations of the Jackalope who will sing along to the campfire songs of the men. They are most likely lured to the camp by the firelight and the scent of whiskey which is the favorite food of all Jackalopes.

So remember to always take precautions when camping in Jackalope territory and ensure that whiskey is not left out at night, for the bottle will most likely be empty by sunrise.

Bear, Danger Ranger. “The Jackalope.” Almanac of Outdoor Wisdom, April 1, 2020,

Dinosaur Tracks (the story behind the ice sculpture)

Carver: Ryan Cook

In the summer of 2000, 8-year-old Daniel Helm and 11-year-old Mark Turner were playing near their home in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. They were tubing down a creek in the woods when they fell out of their inner tube and had to walk back up the creek bank. As they made their way up the hill, they stumbled upon a series of large footprints unlike anything they’d ever seen. Theexcitement began to build as they wandered and wondered if it might be dinosaur footprints. They ran home to tell Daniel’s father, to show him their find.

When the two boys tried to convince Daniel’s father that the footprints belonged to a dinosaur, he was skeptical. But he knew they weren’t your ordinary footprints either, so he contacted the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta, to ask for help. The boys told the museum paleontologists what they had found, and eventually Richard McCrea, Canada’s leading dinosaur footprint researcher, came out to the site in 2001.

McCrea found that the boys' discovery was indeed a dinosaur trackway, and it set off a chain of events that culminated in Tumbler Ridge reinventing itself as a tourist destination and home of the new Tumbler Ridge Geopark. The tracks the boys found were identified as those of a large quadrupedal dinosaur, Tetrapodosaurus borealis, an ichnotaxon liked to ankylosaurs.