The cold weather that has entrenched Manitoba in recent days is good news for at least one local business.

Clint Masse is the owner of the world's largest snow maze at St. Adolphe. Masse says this cold snap is exactly what they need as they get the maze ready for opening day.

Masse explains that a lot of the snow that makes up the walls of the maze is man-made. Prior to this cold snap, they would make snow when they could. But this was very dependent on the weather, and with late December being so mild, it slowed down production.

"This is a unique year where we've never had to shut down our snow-making machines like we have this year," he explains.

Masse recalls there were stretches where they could work for 36 or 48 hours and make as much snow as possible, but then warm weather would force them to halt operations for a day. Then they would start and stop and so on and so forth. 

But the last few days have been just what the doctor ordered for making snow.

"A perfect day is probably an average January where -12 is the high and -22 is the low," suggests Masse. "Those are perfect days."

"We can make snow at -4, it is just abysmally small amounts," says Masse. "And it's a low quality, it's kind of that wet Eastern Canada type slush stuff, versus our proud Western Canada dry snow."

In 2019, Masse and his crew built the world's largest snow maze, taking up an area of 2,789 m2. The feat earned a Guinness World Record. Masse says the maze they are currently building is quite a bit larger than that one and is way more intricate with snow art in four buildings integrated into the maze.

"It's more of a deluxe build," he says. "But we're way behind. I think we're for sure two weeks behind."

Masse says the first year of their snow maze they had it built by December 27th. This year, they are targeting January 26th for opening day. Masse says the big attraction on the grounds this winter will no doubt be the world's largest snow maze. At the centre of that maze is a large bale pyramid. But, in addition to that, they have horse-drawn sleigh rides on the weekends and a warming hut complete with hot chocolate and snacks. 

Also, this year, they are bringing back their restaurant. Masse explains restaurant patrons will enjoy a hot meal inside a snow building. Tables are made of ice, making it impossible to run heaters inside. Yet, Masse says when the temperature is -20 degrees outside, it can hover around -5 degrees in the restaurant. He notes the restaurant, which sold out last year, will be open on Friday and Saturday nights. 

According to Masse, it takes a "monster crew" to get the snow maze built. He says many days they have 20 people working on it, but that can hit 25 on days when they have all the artists working there too. He says it is considerably different than constructing the corn maze in summer, which is basically a one-man show. 

Masse admits that there is very little point in ever building the snow maze much bigger than it already is. He notes they have learned that our winter weather in southern Manitoba allows for an average of 40 minutes inside the snow maze before people are ready to do something different. 

"We feel that larger than this might actually be detrimental because now you're stuck in a maze, it's cold outside, let's face it, it's winter," says Masse. "So, we're kind of maxed out on size we think right now."

Masse says he is 80 per cent confident they will be ready to open on January 26th, noting they are working longer hours and pulling out all of the stops to make that happen.