Photo: Liz McKeen

 The story of Janus is posted beside this year’s giant snowman on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

 Why does Janus have two faces?

As the original Janus came to life during the first year of the pandemic a decision was made to ensure the snowman could be enjoyed from both the road and sidewalk. The vision came to light as the snowman became so large you couldn’t see the opposing side of his body facilitating the placement of two faces.

The original Janus was adorned with a mask on one side (representing the period of pandemic isolation) and no mask and smiling on the opposing side (representing the future and end of the pandemic.)


Why name the snowman Janus?

A well-informed neighbour commented on the unique two-faced snowman and suggested it be named Janus. With puzzled expressions on our faces, he explained “Janus” is taken from Roman mythology. He was the God of abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end and war/peace, and his image bore two heads looking in opposite directions.

From that day forward, the snowman was named Janus!


Dedication and key message

As a clinician working during the pandemic, constructing Janus was an outlet to de-stress and share a positive message during a bleak time. The larger-than-life snowman was initially dedicated to the many health care workers putting in long hours, under stressful and unknown conditions – to recognize their sacrifices.

Now in his fourth year, Janus has become a Glebe beacon welcoming everyone from near and far. The surprise of encountering a snowman made with seven tons of snow smiling as you walk or drive by can only put a smile on your day!


Keeping the spirit alive

Janus’s spirit is kept alive from one year to the next by carefully removing, preserving and then reimplanting his heart (snow samples from each year packed in a Rubbermaid container) into the following year’s snowman.

The heart is placed on life support and stored under the strictest of aseptic conditions. Once harvested, the heart is carefully decontaminated, lowered into a large zip lock bag and stored at subzero temperatures in my deep freeze (found in basement) nestled carefully between the frozen peas and ice cream.



Constructed entirely of snow gathered from the neighbourhood. No mechanical devices used to pile or gather snow and no internal supports or structures used. He’s 100 % snow.

Featured in many news stories including a New York Times online appearance.

Hat is 4’ tall and constructed from insulation and garbage bags. Solar lights adorn the top of the hat as well as both his noses and pipes.

Historically, Janus appears mid-January and melts by the second week of April with a total life span of approximately 88 days.


Social media

Watch this space for links to Janus’s Facebook and Instagram accounts coming very soon!

#Janus #Ottawa Snowman


“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.”

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