Canada’s best skating rinks are the slippery community meeting grounds where the impressive scenery that surrounds us; frozen lakes, rivers, and canals, offers opportunities to participate in the Canadian landscape in ways we usually can’t the rest of the year. Take a look at some of the most unique rinks in the country.
LAKE LOUISE, BANFF NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA
There are few sights in the country as awe-inspiring as Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Surrounded in all its crystal clear glory by breathtaking snowcapped mountains and pine forests, it becomes even more magical in the winter, when the lake freezes over and Canadians glide across the landscape, contributing their own impish whimsy to the enchanting scenery.
RIDEAU CANAL SKATEWAY, OTTAWA, ONTARIO
(Photo by Saffron Blaze via Wikimedia Commons)
Although official use of the Rideau Canal as a skateway is a more recent development, skating along the waterway for recreation and as a means of commuting to work has been an Ottawa tradition for decades. Today, the municipality embraces that tradition, and with the cleared surface area being the equivalent of 90 Olympic ice hockey rinks, it is recognized as the world’s largest skating rink. Open 24 hours a day, Ice is flooded regularly to ensure safety and usability, and with several shelters and vendor chalets (can you say “Beaver Tails”?) set up along the passage, it’s a natural tourist attraction.
GROUSE MOUNTAIN, NORTH VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Grouse Mountain’s alpine ski resort invites skaters to ride to the top of the chairlift line, strap on their blades and carve up this rink at “the peak of Vancouver.” What better place to skate than the top of a mountain?
GREAT SLAVE LAKE, YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
With its frequent views to the northern lights, Great Slave Lake is a site to be experienced year-round, but it truly comes to life in the winter when Yellowknife’s Long John Jamboree festival activates the space as a destination for skating, ice carving championships, and other winter activities.
CLEAR LAKE, RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, MANITOBA
Every five-to-10 years, calm nights and little snow results in a phenomenon that allows skaters to see through to the frigid depths of this lake in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park. In shallower areas, it’s possible to see the underlying sand, rocks, and sometimes, even fish.
EMERA OVAL, HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
Originally known as the Canada Games Oval, the Emera Oval was constructed in 2010 for use as a track for speed skating races held during the 2011 edition of the games. It was slated to be dismantled following these events, but overwhelming public support kept it a permanent fixture in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Equal the size of three NHL rinks, it averages attendances of about 2000 people every day, with plenty of breathing room for everyone.
PARC LAFONTAINE ICE PATHS, MONTREAL, QUEBEC
The skating opportunity Parc Lafontaine offers is less a rink and more a system of icy routes winding through the Montreal park. So there’s less room for group activities like hockey here, but what the Montreal’s park lacks in the way of wide open spaces to glide around freely, it makes up for with an appeal to exploratory instincts.
CAMECO MEEWASIN SKATING RINK, SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN
Voted “the best outdoor skating spot in Canada” by Reader’s Digest in 2007, this rink on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River isn’t just free to the public; it stocks skates that are free to rent, too!