Long winters, frigid air and frozen lakes are not intimidating to a hearty Canadian. Instead, we embrace the cold and find ways to stay fit and have fun while Mother Nature rages. Ice-skating is one of the ways we enjoy fresh air and exercise.
Take a twirl with over 900,000 other visitors annually when you skate on the world’s largest ice rink. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa has 7.8 kilometers of frozen fun waiting for visitors of all ages. If you have small children who cannot yet skate, don’t worry. There are red sleighs that can be rented to push non-skaters. If you don’t have your own skates, you can rent a pair. Are your children getting cold? No problem. There are warming huts all along the canal. There are also vendors selling hot soups and hot chocolate to keep your insides warm. A specialized Zamboni grooms the ice by day, while drilled holes are used to pump water over the surface for “fresh ice” at night. This means the ice is always great for skating.
Arguably the world’s best skating rink, Lake Louise is a huge winter wonderland in the coldest months from mid-December to April (depending on weather). The romantic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains adds a beauty that is hard to beat. Bring your own skates (and maybe a hockey stick) to enjoy a day on the ice. You can also rent skates. The ice is cleared daily for an optimal skating surface. A heated shelter will warm up your icy toes and fingers.
Toronto really knows how to enjoy all things cold and wintery, including ice-skating. The square—Nathan Phillips Square—in front of the city hall becomes a popular place to ice-skate from November to mid-March. Enjoy the city lights and urban setting as you feel the freedom that only comes from gliding along a frozen outdoor rink. Bring your own skates or rent a pair. Store your valuables in a convenient locker for 25 cents. There are washrooms and a café available. A rink attendant is always on site. Since the square is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. you can enjoy an early morning skate before work or a skate under the stars at night.
Tired of skating in circles? Opt for the long pathways of Parc La Fontaine, where trees line the sides and nature abounds. Post-card beauty and fresh air make this a much sought after destination for lovers looking for a little romantic time on the ice. The free admission makes it great for families looking for something cheap to enjoy together. There are washrooms and skate rentals available. This is a natural jewel in a city setting.
Come and enjoy the world’s longest skating rink – a whopping one kilometer long! The Forks is a skating surface that combines two rivers, the Assiniboine River and the Red River. Watch as the city’s downtown whirs by as you skate along this amazing stretch. If you get cold (remember, it’s Winnipeg!) there are plenty of warming huts. These are unique in that they are designed by architects and artists from around the globe.