The Yellowknife Diaries (part 2)

The Snow King, Tony Foliot

Tuesday 11th September ’12 – I’ve been complaining for two days that there’s no bacon in the fridge, as advertised on The Embleton House B&B website, I ask Trevor to address the problem with the landlady. He says he’ll sort it out when we get back.

We meet-up with a guy called Tony Foliot today, better known as The Snow King. Every winter Tony spends months building a huge ice castle on the frozen lake next to his blue and yellow house boat. Tony is tall and lean, at first I estimate him to be about 60, but I look behind his thick beard at his face, hidden under the brim of his cap, and put him nearer 50. He turns-out to be 49. We sit in Tony’s floating office and drink Black Bear beer, at 10% alcohol it’s more like wine, he offers to take us out for a trip on his boat. I imagine his boat to be a 40 foot Boston Whaler. The ‘boat’ is basically a three man canoe with an outboard motor. Beggars can not be choosers. Storm, Tony’s dog, looks like a scaled-down polar bear, he sits on the back of the boat, completely at home on the Great Slave Lake.

Tony gives us a fascinating waterside tour of Old Town Yellowknife, every houseboat is given a potted history – who lives there, who lived there, how much they paid for it and who had an affair with his wife. For the entire tour it rains, Trevor and I sit under a blue plastic tarp to stay dry.

We get back to Tony’s jetty after about an hour, he tells us that he normally charges for trips in his boat, but he won’t take any money from us. The three of us drink some more of the ferociously strong lager and chat, but I don’t take anything in because I’m trying to find the best light to get a portrait of Tony, but it’s too dark.

The Snow King drives us back to our B&B in town, we offer to take him for a beer, but he declines the invitation. A couple of years ago, Tony got drunk in the local strip club and someone videoed him dancing with one of the ‘entertainers’, he doesn’t drink in town anymore.

When we arrive back at our accommodation, the landlady is servicing our room, she tells us she’s stocked-up all the food, but not the bacon, because we haven’t been eating it. The freezer is full of bacon”

Both shots were made using a Mamiya 7II camera, 80mm lens and Fuji Pro 400H film.

The back of 52nd Avenue.


  1. Mark Falconer

    Bad news – not satisfied with my occasional attempts at digital photography, I’ve now purchased a 33mm SLR to have a play at film photography – expect to see some results on Facebook in the next year or so…..

    Mark Falconer



  2. TheMainObserver

    Why are you blogging this? This kind of writing and photography should be published in a top-end periodical or magazine. It is superb.


  3. Love your story. Nice beginning, middle, and end. Quite satisfying. Love the photograph of Tony.

    Just curious though: Is there a reason why neither of you opened the freezer to see what might be in it?


  4. Great post. Really enjoyed reading it, Phil. The guy in the boat is just great! Also, love the colours/tones and the way this film looks! So good! Have to invest in some myself, now! Thanks for sharing mate.


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