Whittier Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - 1926
“Early in the winter, first horrible snap of cold. Fire in the paddock started when a squirrel scorched himself on a power cable. The horses panicked, frightened, wildly fleeing from the flames. One last race, for their lives. Out into that cruel snap of cold. No other way to escape the flames but to cross the Red River. Swimming in the current, fighting the current. That current clogging with jagged chunks of freeze up. The ice takes on heft. Deadliness. Horrible. Everything clogs. Both horse and ice clog together, an ice and horse jam. Piles of paralyzes locks, locks each animal in place by it’s panicked, bulging neck. By it’s frenzied head.
The heads stay this way for the whole winter. Fives months at The Forks like 11 knights on a vast white chessboard. A great public spectacle. We grow used to the sadness. Simply incorporated into our days.
Soon, the Holly Snowshoe Club embarks on weekly jaunts to the horse heads and holds little jamborees there. Winter strollers visit the heads frequently, often on romantic rambles. Lovers gathered to sit among, or even on the frozen heads for picnics or to spoon beneath the moonlit dome of our city.
The horse heads are always frozen in those same transports of animal panic and abandonment reading unambiguously to the young lovers of Winnipeg.
The city enjoys a tremendous baby boom the following autumn.”
-Guy Madden, My Winnipeg