Alberta man pays tribute to late grandson with homemade ice machine

With a little scrap metal and a lot of ingenuity, Peter Szmyrko built a homemade ice resurfacer that would rival any professional rig.

The contraption, pulled by a small Gator utility vehicle with a snowblade, relies on a crackling wood fire to heat the water before it’s shot through a series of valves onto the ice.

“It’s actually built from an old heater tank that was used to water the cattle,” Terry Mudryk said of her father’s invention.

“It works literally like a real Zamboni but it’s been made from various pieces of scrap metal and whatever else that it takes to get this thing together.”

“It makes the ice really smooth … it’s awesome.”

Szmyrko, 87, created the machine in memory of his grandson, Marty Mudryk​, who died in November at the age of 44, after a 19-month battle with cancer.

As a boy, Marty often skated at the family cabin on Skeleton Lake near Boyle, Alta. So Szmyrko wanted to pay tribute to that.

“It was a really tough Christmas, so dad just decided that, in his grief, he would build this in memory of Marty,” Mudryk said in an interview Monday with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.

“It became just an incredible tribute to him. Marty, he loved it out there.”

Szmyrko put the rig to the test during a memorial skating party hosted at the family cabin this Christmas, and it has been out of the lake every day since.

It’s something that Marty would have wanted. His spirit was so with us.-Terry Mudryk

It’s been a source of joy for their large extended family, Mudryk said.

“Every day it’s been out there and dad just keeps improving, improving, improving,”

“It certainly took a lot of grief off our hearts because it was so fun. It’s something that Marty would have wanted. His spirit was so with us. I could just hear him laughing about the whole thing.

“It put a lot of smiles when there probably otherwise would have been tears.”

The homemade ice resurfacer was put to the test for the first time this Christmas during a family skating party. (Terry Mudryk)

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