a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Dec, 2017

About that ice rink on Parliament Hill

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Ottawa

Canada 150 rink on Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Dear Fishies, if you are looking for something fun/novel/cool/active to do in Ottawa right now, this is IT. Click play on the video below for some “on ice” perspective of the Canada 150 skating rink:

I came, I saw, I marveled.

Ottawa Tourism invited me to visit the new skating rink on Parliament Hill on the day it opened. (Thank you Ottawa Tourism!) It sounds strange to say but as I found my “skate” legs and made my way around the rink, I actually found myself welling up a bit. Perhaps it was a sustained deja vu of the sights, sounds, and happy feelings that are so familiar to so many of us who grew up in Canada: lacing up my skates, tightening my scarf, the sound of skates carving the ice, the smell of the cold air and the excitement. Everything about this experience is so ordinary, yet extraordinary. Everyone leaves their boots under picnic tables (no big deal), everyone knows to skate in one direction, someone wipes out on the ice and strangers go to help, music plays while you balance on ice with only two narrow metal blades between you and the frozen surface.

This is just before I went on the ice. For some reason it really cracked me up…. all of us standing around waiting for the Zamboni driver to do his laps and then for the “ice to dry.”

… and of course, then there’s that unforgettable view. There is something very special about skating under the watchful gaze of the Peace Tower. It was all so Canadian, it nearly killed me.

Canada 150 rink on Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Sidebar: There were stories in the media about the lack of “FUN” that is allowed at the rink, e.g. no hockey sticks or games of pick up allowed. But the naysayers should remember that hockey and other shenanigans are not allowed on any indoor rink and most outdoor rinks in Ottawa as well, including the Rideau Canal Skateway. This is not to say there won’t be any hockey on the rink. There are games and hockey demos planned here. (Check the official Canada 150 rink website for the schedule and other details.)

I felt like I was PART OF HISTORY here. (Cue tears.) It was so peaceful, yet invigorating, which is weird because though those two things don’t normally go together. It was all a bit surreal, actually.

It was really nice during the day, but at night it will look amazing with Parliament Hill all lit up in the background. Anyway, go! Grab a friend, your kids, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend (this is the ultimate Ottawa date night material!) and hit the ice. You’ll be happy you were part of it too.

The Ottawa sign, in Ottawa!

Important things to know about the Parliament Hill skating rink before you go:

  • Tickets are free but you must book them online in advance. They may tweak these rules later to accommodate walk-ups, but this is the way it is now.
  • The actual skating window is 40 minutes long. Not sure if this is enough time? It is PLENTY. If you’re like me your feet will be ready to be released from their frozen enclosures by that time anyway.
  • Everything is totally wheelchair and stroller accessible.
  • It’s open 10-10 on weekdays, 8-10 on Saturdays.
  • Yes, there are Portapotties on the site!
  • It was originally scheduled to be open for a few weeks in December but will now remain open until February 25, 2018. This is great news for Ottawans as well as Winterlude visitors. If the ice on the canal isn’t great, this option is just as fun.
  • No skates? Dull blades? There’s a rental place across the street at the Capital Infocentre that will set you up.

Will you be checking out the Canada 150 skating rink at Parliament Hill this winter? Let me know if you go. I’d love to hear about your experience.

4 Responses to "About that ice rink on Parliament Hill"

1 | Carolyn

December 9th, 2017 at 10:49 pm


We went at 9pm on the first day and it was beautiful. Late school night for our 4 kids but well worth it to be one of “the first”. Really lucked out that the 16000 people who were there at 7pm for the switching on of Christmas Lights Across Canada had left by 9pm. Unfortunately, the lights had been switched off for some reason by 9pm but it didn’t matter. We’ll try again for a nighttime spot later on as it was beautiful. One of my kids said all you needed now was a little snow to start falling and it would be beyond perfect. BTW, did you see the toonie buried at Centre Ice? Very Canadian!

2 | Mary Jaekl

December 11th, 2017 at 12:40 am


We are going tomorrow afternoon! Well I’m watching because super pregnant. Hoping that there’s going to be somewhere to spectate & not just feel left out.

Did you feel that it was really necessary to arrive an hour in advance like they recommend? Seems excessive.

3 | andrea tomkins

December 11th, 2017 at 1:57 pm


Carolyn: I did NOT see the toonie! I will make a point of looking for it when we go back.

Mary: There is a great platform that overlooks the rink. I think there’s probably a very nice view. I didn’t know about the hour early rule. Hmm. It must be because of bag checks etc.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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