As with any fishing trip, trolling the Great White North for char, smelt and salmon requires a pole, bait and enough beer to keep your buddies in good spirits. But given the potential for -40° temperatures and howling winds, Canadian anglers insist on shelter, too.
Not that it has to be sophisticated. The basic requirements include a roof, four walls, and a hole cut in the floor through which to lure the catch of the day. Scrap plywood and repurposed two-by-fours constitute the most popular materials. Indoor amenities range from a woodstove or propane heater to a kitchenette or satellite TV. Though Quebecois are known for kitsch and Newfoundlanders for dogged wit, a certain patriotic scrappiness reigns supreme, which is why Toronto architectural photographer Richard Johnson turned his lens toward the makeshift homesteads. “All the work I do for architects is highly polished,” he explains. “I was drawn to ice huts because they are crooked and textured and every one is so different.”
Beyond Photoshopping out the inevitable yellow pee stains around these man caves, Johnson took a hyperrealistic approach—employing a straight-on angle, gray-sky lighting and a chest-high horizon line—to bring the unique qualities of each shack into sharp focus. “I see them as portraits of the hut owners without the owners present.”