Live Free & (Maybe) Die: 'Ice Lake Rebels' Stars Reveal Dangers, Joys of Frozen Life
Stephan & Allyce, the off-the-grid houseboating couple from “Ice Lake Rebels,” invite Yahoo Travel aboard their (thankfully!) unfrozen houseboat (Photo: Animal Planet)
As a fan of Animal Planet’s new docu-series “Ice Lake Rebels,” which follows a group of houseboat-dwelling survivalists as they brave a typically brutal winter 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle, I encountered two things I hadn’t expected when I visited a couple of the show’s cast members in Canada’s Northwest Territories. One was the sunny, postcard-ready 70-degree weather instead of the white, frozen landscape depicted on the show.
The other was a woman singing opera.
“That’s our neighbor,” Stephan Hervieux, one of the more colorful folks featured on “Ice Lake Rebels,” explains during our late-morning serenade. Stephan and I, along with his “Ice Lake” co-star and new wife, Allyce Rattray — they got married after wrapping the show’s first season — are enjoying beverages on a beautiful day atop their houseboat, one of the 30 or so moored on the gigantic Great Slave Lake (North America’s deepest lake and the world’s 10th largest). The music coming from the nearby houseboat shows the neighbors are also enjoying the beautiful day, even as they work. “She’s putting in a sauna,” Stephan says of the nearby opera lover.
Ironically, when the ice melts, Stephan and Allyce can finally chill out on their houseboat (Photo: Sid Lipsey)
Saunas are one thing you don’t often see on “Ice Lake Rebels.” The show, shot last winter, follows a group of “rebels” who, looking to escape the rules, structures, and excess of modern society, live on very spartan houseboats on Great Slave Lake. These “rebels” live off the grid, supplying their own power, heat and water. And they exist mostly out of the reach of local government and, as they like to point out, taxes.
Despite the fact that “Ice Lake Rebels” continually highlights the risks of living on a lake that spends three-fourths of the year frozen in minus-40-degree weather, Stephan and Allyce say they often hear from fans, as well as friends who live in the nearby town of Yellowknife, who dream of buying a houseboat and living the “Ice Lake” lifestyle. “There are people in town who think, ‘This is great. You don’t pay taxes. It’s cheap,’” Allyce says.