I love ice skating, but I’m not very good at it. I would probably want to skate more often if I had good skates, but my skates are pinchy, stiff, and deeply uncomfortable. Every year I promise myself that I’ll replace them, but I don’t. I’ve had them since high school! (I know. I can’t believe it either.)
That being said, I’m still convinced that Skating is A Wonderful Thing. And it’s so Canadian too, isn’t it? It’s something many of us do growing up. The sound of the blades slicing along the ice, the smell of the indoor rink, the feeling of the glide (and the stumble and resulting fall)… it takes me right back every time.
Skating is active, outdoor, social… and it’s one of the cheapest activities you can do as a family. We’re spoiled for choice here in Ottawa as there are many places to skate for free.
Here’s something new: Ottawa residents can skate for free at local arenas on weekends. The City and RBC recently announced a sponsorship agreement that’s worth $200,000 over three years. This agreement will support free public skating in City arenas on Saturdays and Sundays at all scheduled free skates from January to April and September to December. You can read more about that here.
If you live in Kitchissippi (meaning: McKellar/Highland Park, Westboro, Civic Hospital, West Wellington, Hintonburg et al.) you should check out the guide to outdoor rinks that was published in the Kitchissippi Times recently. The writer of this section, Anita Grace, did a really nice job summarizing each rink, and this special section also includes a rink ranking, as voted by KT readers. I’ve already had a few people tell me they cut it out of the paper and stuck it to their fridge because they’re planning on skating their way through all ten rinks. (I love that!) The rest of Ottawa can find their local outdoor rinks listed online right here. (Related: Ottawa Rinks is a volunteer website which publishes current and up-to-date outdoor skating rink conditions. It’s worth checking out!)
Winterlude has started and the Rideau Canal Skateway is open. Mark skated home from work the other day and said that the ice was great. You can check conditions online right here.
There’s also the Rink of Dreams. Have you been? It’s another free place to skate here in Ottawa. Weather permitting, it’s open daily from 6:00 a.m. (!) to 11:00 p.m. and heated change room are open 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. There are Beavertails to be found there too… sadly, these are not free. :)
And last on my list, but certainly not least, is the historic outdoor ice rink at Rideau Hall. It’s such a fun experience. It feels like you’re stepping back in time, and it’s also free! I’m itching to go again before the skating season is over.
Are you a skater? I’d love to hear about your favourite skating hotspot in Ottawa if you have one.