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Family Matters

The Frozen Life - Embracing the land of snow and ice in the True North

November 1st, 2015

By Dawn Booth

“Do you want to build a snowman?” Sound familiar? Many parents, who have young fans of Disney’s award-winning flick Frozen, know all the lyrics to this song. And any parent raising their child in Northern Alberta can completely relate to the setting of this film – a land of ice and snow – because they are actually living in it.

In the Wood Buffalo region, residents experience longer, colder and darker days, than most of their Canadian neighbours. And with the birth numbers hitting record highs at the Northern Lights Regional Hospital, the winter is something they should embrace and look forward to. After all, the future generation won’t know any difference because they are born and raised in the winter wonderland.

The following are a list of no-cost ideas to get families excited about enjoying winter – outdoors and inside (because when sub-zero hits, there’s no better place to be, but cozied up indoors).

Build a Snowman

Yes, that’s right -the first and most obvious of ideas - build a snowman. But not just “any” snowman, build a “Snowman Time Capsule” and make it a family tradition for every first big snowfall of the year.

Have the family gather an item of something they want to put into the capsule; it can be anything – a picture, a coin, a favourite LEGO guy or small toy. Once you have all the items, sit down together and write a letter about your predictions of things you think may take place during the winter season; maybe a family trip or a special event.

Once you have everything ready, put it all into a waterproof container and pack it into your built snowman. (It works best if you put the capsule into the base of it by making a hole and then filling it up with snow.)

When the weather gets warmer and the snowman has completely melted, that’s the time to celebrate by opening the capsule up and rediscovering your family treasures.

Hit the Ice

Ice skating and hockey - There’s nothing more traditional, and Canadian, on the list of winter activities. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has an abundance of ice skating opportunities with the dozens of boarded outdoor rinks and several indoor arenas made available. The Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park has many ice facilities, even a leisure pond which is open daily (see for hours). The KAOS Family Skate is also a popular activity hosted at Mac Island from now until March. It offers free public skating and hot chocolate. Learn more at

For outdoor skating, there are six boarded rinks in Fort McMurray; including locations in Abasand – beside Father Beauregard School on Athabasca Avenue, Downtown – Borealis Pond at Borealis Park, Waterways – Bulyea Avenue, Thickwood – Signal Road across the street from the medical centre, Timberlea – Brett Drive beside Timberlea School, and Timberlea – Syncrude Timberlea Athletic Park. For more information and available rinks in the municipality, go to

Enjoy a “Light” Read

The Wood Buffalo Regional Library provides free membership and programming for all residents in the region. With plenty of space and tall glass windows throughout, it creates an ideal outing for any winter afternoon.

If you take the family on a sunny day, everyone can get the sunbeams they need to brighten up and beat down any potential winter blues. Grab a few books from the shelves and share stories. There is a great movie selection too. Sign out a couple of films to take home for the family to enjoy an evening together. The Library is forever hosting family and children-based programs. Check out their upcoming events and learn more at

There’s so much to explore in our region during the winter months, keep checking the websites listed above. To find ongoing community events, go to The MAC Calendar at And most importantly, keep giving warm hugs!

Fun Winter Experiments

It’s cold out. Grab your littles and spend the afternoon taking part in cool science experiments. It doesn’t take hours to do, but may keep you running in and out of the house to stay warm.

BLOW BUBBLES: Bubbles are not just a summer thing… and wait ‘til you see what happens when you blow them out in zero-below. Your children will marvel at them as the fractals cover the surface to make the bubbles freeze.

INFLATE BALLOONS: Balloons shrink in the cold. Blow up a few balloons and tie strings to them. Watch them deflate outside, as the gas becomes colder and bring them back into the heat to revive them.

FROST PICTURES: Painting with watercolours is always a great activity, but have you ever tried freezing the pictures? Have your children paint pictures with water colours and lay them out in the snow to freeze. See what happens – the wetter, the better.

A newspaper editor by day and LEGO builder by night, Dawn Booth is a local journalist, who is raising her three Fort McMurray-born children in the beautiful Wood Buffalo region with her husband, Ryan. Learn more at

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