OTTAWA -- Every block of stone has a statue inside it, but what about a mound of snow?

Driving down the quiet, snow-filled street in Ottawa’s Knoxdale neighbourhood, it’s hard to miss the snowman on the front lawn of Emidio De Matteis’s home. That’s because it’s a copy of Michelangelo’s David. The sculpture is on a pedestal, stands around 10 feet tall, and is meticulously carved.

Like any artist, De Matteis’s inspiration didn’t come easy.

“Maybe I’m going to go out there, going to build a snowman or something like that,” said De Matteis. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.”

A stonemason, De Matteis worked on countless projects, spanning decades, hand-sculpting stone and brick. His work can be seen across Ottawa, most notably the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Vanier, for which he received multiple awards.


Now retired, De Matteis was ready to take on a new challenge. He grabbed his masonry tools, some chisels and trowels, and took to the snow to craft his idea.

“When you do something like that, you do it with a passion because you put your heart in it ... You want to show what you can do because it’s an art,” he said, looking up at his work.

Passers-by love the chilled -- err, chiselled -- Renaissance piece, stopping to snap a pic.

Emidio's David

“I’ve seen countless people, probably dozens of people stop by and take pictures so I think it’s awesome,” said neighbour Paul Gratton.

“Emidio is quite a good friend of mine so I have been inquiring as the mound of snow started to grow ... so it’s been kind of cool because we live just across the street so I’ve seen the progression on a daily basis.”

“Emidio’s David” wasn’t chiselled in a day -- the whole process took about a week. His inspiration for carving the masterpiece was Winterlude. “They build a lot out of snow sculptures and things like that ... it’s when you go and build something with your hands, carve something with your hands, and make it look like a portrait ... make something that people like.”

As Gratton and De Metteis chatted near the statue on Friday, Gratton told him the carving is that of an artist and perfectionist.

“Why don’t you go to Winterlude,” Gratton said. “They have a team that will help you out to do something.”

De Matteis’s response was humble.

“Maybe,” he said. “In the future, maybe.”

Emidio De Matteis