This winter has been a challenging one for everyone; whether it’s the treacherous commutes or never-ending “snow days”, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Instead of focusing on how many more cold days lie ahead, try embracing the season for all that it has to offer. Skating is a truly Canadian activity but many of us haven’t laced up our skates since we were kids. Ottawa has many great ways to enjoy this winter sport in the great outdoors so get out and enjoy winter while it lasts.
Ottawa’s most famous skating rink (and possibly most famous landmark), the Rideau Canal is the world’s largest skating rink. Running from the Mackenzie King Bridge to Dow’s Lake, this 7.8km skateway weaves its way through the city and is completely free to use. The canal is open from January to late February or early March (depends on the weather) and there are many great events that take place during that time, most notably Winterlude which is on now.
Located on the front lawn of Ottawa City Hall, the Rink of Dreams is open 7 days a week from 6:00am to 11:00pm and is also free to use. This rink is a refrigerated ice surface that is maintained to allow for indoor arena quality ice in the great outdoors. If you don’t have skates, or forgot them at home, not to worry, there are rentals available on site.
If you live in the west end, you will have to check out the rink at Ben Franklin Place (the old City of Nepean City Hall). In the winter, the large water feature on Centrepointe Drive is transformed into a beautiful skating rink. Like the Rink of Dreams, this rink is maintained by a zamboni and is always in great condition! The heated changing facility is open from 11:00am to 8:00pm daily so no need to freeze your fingers as you lace up.
The City of Ottawa is host to over 250 outdoor rinks (ODRs) that are located in parks all over the city. These rinks are maintained and run primarily by volunteers in the community and provide a great place to go and skate or play hockey. Some have heated facilities to get ready in and schedules for different activities. For more information (including ice conditions), you can check out ottawarinks.ca.
Whether you are landing that triple axel, scoring the winning goal, or just hoping to stay on your feet, make sure that you are doing it safely. Children should always wear helmets while skating and adults are also encouraged to do the same.