Carter Cyr, 12, of Sinclair stands with his "oneinamillion" ice shack which will be used for his own rental business in Sinclair, Maine on Jan. 5, 2022. Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Plourde-Cyr

SINCLAIR, Maine — One ice fishing shack on Long Lake in northern Aroostook County will truly stand out this year. To start with, it’s pink.

But its greater significance is that it was built to benefit a teen with cancer, and now a 12-year-old boy wants to rent it out.

While most parents give their children pets to teach them responsibility, Chuck and Jessica Cyr of Sinclair encouraged their son Carter, 12, to start his own business to learn the value of a dollar. Knowing his ice shack’s special history, Carter decided to donate 10 percent of the money he earned toward local charities. The first organization to benefit from Carter’s endeavor will be Central Aroostook Humane Society in Presque Isle.

The inside of Carter’s Ice Shack after the newest renovation using truck bed liner for waterproof flooring in Sinclair, Maine on Jan. 5, 2022. Courtesy of Jessica Plourde-Cyr

“One of the things that he has is a lot of compassion,” Chuck Cyr said. “He’s a little shy at first, but he is an extremely compassionate and giving individual.”

When the Cyrs talked about what kind of enterprise Carter might pursue, they decided that ice fishing would appeal to their son’s outdoorsy nature, so father and son set out to find the perfect ice shack at Houlton PowerSports.  

Sticking out among the many black and gray ice shacks sat a pink cabin with a decal on the side reading “oneinamillion” and the pair knew they had found what they were seeking.

The “oneinamillion” referred to Alexis Michaud, a teenager from Manchester, New Hampshire, who was diagnosed in June 2021 with chordoma, a rare cancer that affects one in a million people. Alexis underwent surgery and her post- operative screening in December came out clear.

The shack was donated to a fundraiser for Alexis and her family, but the person who won it did not ice fish and sold it to the Cyrs.

“The other ice shacks that they could have purchased, the black or whatever, were the same price so they didn’t get a discount on it, but they got the pink one because it had such a wonderful backstory to it,” Jessica Cyr said.

The brand new 2021 Mission Ice Shack is fully insulated and equipped with lighting, but still needs a few renovations before it can go out on the ice. So far, Carter and his family have waterproofed the flooring by spraying truck bed liner over it.

Still to be installed are some seating and heaters as well as a logo Carter designed in collaboration with Boulevard Graphix in Presque Isle that will be applied to the outside of the shack. It features a fishing moose.

Business owners themselves, Carter’s parents have been helping him learn everything he needs to know when it comes to running an enterprise of his own. They’ve discussed ways for him to pay himself for the work that he will be doing, how to budget for his expenses and how he will be repaying the money used to purchase the ice shack and get it ready to use.

“I think their support and them teaching me about the business helps me know what I have to do to succeed,” Carter said.

In addition to learning to manage his finances, Carter will be tasked with cleaning the shack after his patrons leave.

“He’s going to be able to take a snowmobile and scoot over there,” Jessica Cyr said. “He’ll have to clean out the ice holes to make sure that those are ready to go and make sure that the equipment is always ready.”

With his out-of-the-box thinking, Carter even talked about making how-to videos to post online for any of his customers who have never gone ice fishing before.

Carter plans to put his ice shack on Long Lake near the Sporting Club in Sinclair and has his own Facebook page set up to take reservations. Cost to rent the ice shack for a day is $150, including the fishing gear; $125 without it. Carter hopes, given the right weather and ice conditions, that his ice shack will be out and ready for use by mid-January.

“He’s been working really hard. We’re very proud of him.” Jessica Cyr said. “I think it will give him a lot of skills that he will be able to take with him throughout life.”