It was pretty loud and menacing looking, but it did a great job of breaking the ice. The 'claw' arm would haul the body of the boat (is it a boat?) up onto the ice, and the weight of the boat would crack the ice. The purpose of breaking up the ice is to prevent homes further up the waterway from experiencing floods in the spring time. If they just waited for the top ice to melt, it would take too long and many people would have flooded basements, so they blow up the ice literally every year.
The machine was pretty cool, but the dog park beckoned, so we didn't stay too long. After a good 20 minute romp with another golden retriever (Poseidon isn't exactly loyal to his go to canine pals, he's ready to play with anyone who is game, sorry Simba), we continued down to the Rideau Falls where all that flowing water was gushing.