What better way to liven up Canada’s coldest season than to host a big celebration amidst the snowfall and subzero temperatures? The tradition of winter festivals dates back to the 17th-century colonies known as New France, but the first organized carnivals in modern times occurred 125 years ago in Québec City, setting the blueprint for more than a century of frosty fun.
The Québec Winter Carnival, which became an annual tradition starting in 1954, is also the oldest of the festivals held across Canada to relieve the routine of short days and chilly nights. Frank Carrel, proprietor and managing editor of the Quebec Daily Telegraph, devised the Carnival as a way to raise spirits during the winter season. Erecting an ice palace in front of the Parliament building, the Carnaval de Québec also featured a parade, concerts, sporting competitions, and a number of other activities across the city.
Now attended by more than half a million people each year, the carnival has its own official representative named Bonhomme, a large snowman who always wears a red cap, black buttons, and a ceinture fléchée, or “arrowed sash.” He lords over his own ice palace and leads a night parade along Grande Allée, which is decorated with lights and ice sculptures.
Over the years the carnival soundtrack has evolved from polkas and waltzes to rock and dance music. Today, the 65th anniversary of the Québec Winter Carnival kicks off and children throughout the city can be seen enjoying the snowy celebrations while paying homage to their favourite snowman —a scene depicted in today’s Doodle by Canadian-born, New-York-based guest artist Randeep Katari. Other festivities include the annual ice canoe race on the St. Lawrence River, axe throwing, and—for the truly intrepid—the Snow Bath, a rare convergence of snowdrifts and swimming trunks.
A message from the creator of today’s Doodle, Randeep Katari:
I found out I was going to be doing the Doodle for the Québec Winter Carnival just before the winter holidays. Luckily, I was planning on visiting Vancouver and Toronto so I decided to try something a little different and unconventional. I bought some moulds, and froze the letters for Google in real ice:
Then, I edited the image digitally to remove the background and add some characters to colour the scene.
I spent some time designing the characters before adding them to the final scene. Finally, I coloured the ceinture fléchée (sash), added highlights, and did some colour correction and alteration with the help of Doodler Alyssa Winans.