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A LITTLE HISTORY

About

Over 60 Years of Bon Soo Winter Carnival

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Copy of Bon Soo Winter Carnival 1977 Program

The Bon Soo Winter Carnival

The Bon Soo Winter Carnival started with a community of individuals coming together in the spirit of fun to create an enjoyable event for all ages! The inception of an event began in 1963, but it wasn’t until a year later that the Bon Soo Winter Carnival became an official and annual event. Bon Soo was created and designed by local artist Ken MacDougall in 1963 to symbolize the winter carnival, and the name for the character sprang from the imagination of an elementary school student, Donald Norman. Call it a bit of winter magic!

Throughout the years, the Bon Soo Winter Carnival has fostered a spirit of inclusivity and a coming together of the Sault Ste. Marie community. The festival has been a way to show off the Northern Ontario hospitality, as well as provide a fun and entertaining break during the dark winter months. By increasing fun-filled activities for all ages year-over-year, the city has steadily grown the carnival to being the largest winter carnival in Northern Ontario! 

Since its humble beginnings, the Bon Soo Winter Carnival has been led and run by volunteers – people within the community who love where they live and want to create something cool (no pun intended!). The spirit of Bon Soo continues on to this day as a small, dedicated team and board of volunteers work hard to put together a week of activities for all to enjoy. 

Mr. Bon Soo

A beloved 6’ft tall snowball with rosy-red cheeks known as Mr. Bon Soo made their first public appearance in 1963. Sporting a red toque with a pom pom on the end and a big red coat, Mr. Bon Soo came into the city of Sault Ste. Marie like a storm, and brought with them joy, laughter, a sprinkle of mischief and tons more snow! 

With all that extra snow, the Sault community thought of a creative use and came together to build bum slides and fantastical snow sculptures that ‘wow’ carnival-goers to this day. Since then, the infectious and welcoming spirit of Bon Soo continues to live on as the festivities have grown to include more races and competitions to see who in the community can bring their best Bon Soo spirit. 

Now, every February, Mr. Bon Soo returns to the Sault as the official representative of the winter carnival to continue spreading joy, laughter and warmth to help get us through the final stretch of winter. The community excitedly welcomes Mr. Bon Soo each year with ‘bon tidings’ to kick off the 10-day event – Mr. Bon Soo even gets a special address from the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie! During the festivities, there’s definitely a change of spirit as those in or visiting the community share in the magic of our winter wonderland that is Northern Ontario. As the activities come to a close, we come together to wish Mr. Bon Soo a ‘bon voyage’ until next year.   

What does Mr. Bon Soo do for the rest of the year? No one quite knows – Mr. Bon Soo is, after all, a bit of a mysterious character. Perhaps there’s another adventure around the corner, maybe there’s another community who needs Mr. Bon Soo to spread joy and magic.  After all, being a dressed up snowball, one would have to assume Mr. Bon Soo is made up of a bit of magic too…

Want to be a Bon Soo'er?

Volunteers are the heart of the Bon Soo Winter Carnival