Yikes! Pete Hollister Arrested at the Ice Carnival
Shortly after the Hollister family arrives in Quebec for a vacation in The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery, Pete finds himself arrested at the Ice Carnival and in a Canadian “jail” for a very unusual reason: he isn’t wearing the snowman pin that shows his entry fee to the Ice Carnival has been paid! The mock-arrest of anyone lacking a “Bonhomme Carnaval” pin, also called an effigy, is just one of the many fun traditions surrounding the Carnaval de Quebec.
The Carnaval de Quebec, also known as the Quebec Winter Carnival in English, dates back to the early 1900s, when people in the snowy Canadian province began hosting a cheery festival to boost their spirits during the long winter months. The festival was temporarily suspended during the Great Depression and both World Wars, but officially became an annual tradition in 1955. Now, the Carnival of Quebec is celebrated every year in late January or early February, generally coinciding with the date of Mardi Gras. This year, due to COVID restrictions, many of the usual activities have been modified to allow for more online interaction and safer outdoor activities.
The official mascot of the Carnival is Bonhomme Carnaval. This large, costumed representative is dressed as a large snowman wearing a jaunty red stocking cap and a broad white sash adorned with arrows, representing the “joie de vivre” or happiness of the Carnival season. Bonhomme is instantly recognizable to fans of The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery; the jolly snowman features prominently on the front cover of the book, illustrated by Helen S. Hamilton.
Elaborate ice sculptures are a major part of the winter festival, placed around Quebec City so that visitors and locals alike have the chance to explore the beautiful, historic area. There is even an entire palace built out of ice, which is where Bonhomme “lives” during the festival. This year, with COVID-19 necessitating the cancellation of many events, the ice sculptures play a more important role than ever; more than 100 sculptures will be displayed around the city, and an online app will encourage visitors to see how many of the sculptures they can find and log in. Ice skating is another popular icy activity during the Carnival season, especially at outdoor rinks like Place D’Youville. After a day of ice skating or marveling at the ice sculptures, many visitors to Carnival enjoying warming up with a drink like a “Winter Carnival Caribou,” which consists of wine, brandy, and maple syrup.
Winter sports are normally a large part of the Carnaval de Quebec. One of these is an ice canoe race, which takes place in the St. Lawrence River. The river is mostly frozen during the race, so teams must navigate over and between large floes of ice to get to the finish line, sometimes requiring portage of their canoes over large expanses of ice. This makes for a challenging-but-exciting racing event, and the ice canoe race is a favorite Carnival event for Pete and Ricky Hollister. A dog sled race, which takes place through the streets of Old Quebec, is another sporting events that Carnival visitors normally enjoy, along with a gigantic toboggan track.
Winter in Quebec may be cold, but Carnaval de Quebec brings plenty of beauty, cheer, and joie de vivre. In The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery, join the Hollisters as they experience everything Quebec and the Carnival have to offer—but don’t forget to wear your Bonhomme effigy!