Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Skateway

The Rideau Canal skateway is the heart of Winterlude, and this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the skateway. This is the largest outdoor rink in the world, 7.8 kilometres of skating routes with a total area equalling 90 Olympic rinks. Each year, before, during, and after Winterlude, this stretch of the Canal is offered up for skaters. Weekdays can be quieter, but weekends can be busy on the ice. This first shot I took from the Bank Street Bridge looking east.

Some days later, it was more grey, with light snow falling. 

This was the view to the west.

I headed down to the ice surface.

Here we have a view of the bridge itself, turning around from where I was standing in the above shot.

Most years during Winterlude, the bridge itself hosts a series of photographs with various themes. This year it's been the history of Winterlude, with photographs from various sources mounted on the walls of the main arch. This first one shows members of the Ottawa Senators team, a kids hockey team, and mascots of Winterlude carrying a Canadian flag on the ice during a shinny day. Shinny, for those who are wondering, is an informal variation of hockey often played on a pond. On that date, 110 games were being played on the ice. The Senators usually will get out on the ice once during Winterlude.

The skateway chalets, spots along the ice where you can get your skates on, have changed over the last fifty years.

A contrast between seasons: this view, taken from the Mackenzie King Bridge, shows the same spot in winter and summer. I've photographed this view many times.

Dow's Lake, a reservoir for the Canal further upstream from this spot, hosts Winterlude activities, including speed skating in the past. We'll carry on with this tomorrow.


  1. ...William, I remember a few years ago when I first saw skating on the Rideau Canal, it looked so neat. Back home we have so many winters of up and down temperatures that skating on a pond is a thing of the past.

  2. I does look wonderful and sooooo big.
    I don´t dare to skate no more.

  3. It is interesting to see the photo of The Rideau Canal during wintertime and summertime merged together.

  4. The river scene is beautiful any time of the year.

  5. The "elfstedentocht" (you know what I mean) has not been here for more than 10 years ...
    was almost no winter here in all these years!
    The river scene is beautiful!

  6. My daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren get out and skate on the canal at least once a year.

  7. That is a huge skating rink William, fabulous!

  8. Hello, wonderful series on the skating rink. I like the shots of the team carrying the flag. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great week ahead.

  9. What fun, to just zoom along a river. I imagine you are on skates when taking these photos?

  10. I love the picture of the winter/summer view!

  11. I was wondering if the canal was open for skating. The temperatures have been so up & down here that I wondered if you had good ice.

  12. No where you could do that in this country except in a skating rink

  13. Looks so much fun William, and so completely opposite from the weather conditions here in Perth at the moment 😊

  14. @Tom: this year has been a bit up and down. Today it's closed, but they haven't yet decided to call it a season.

    @Iris: I never learned how to do it.

    @Rosemary: I like that too.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Nancy: that's true.

    @Revrunner: thanks!

    @Ella: thank you.

    @David: I get out on the Canal regularly, but it's been awhile since I've done the full stretch, end to end. It's usually just sections.

    @Sami: it is quite an experience.

    @Eileen: thank you!

    @Marie: yes it is.

    @Barbara: oh, no, I can't skate.

    @Tanya: I do as well.

    @RedPat: it's been an up and down season.

    @Bill: here we have no shortage of skate spots.

    @Grace: that's the idea.

  15. That canal must be an ice skaters paradise!

  16. Good to see there are still places where it's freezing and skating is possible.
    We haven't seen any snow or ice this winter. ;-(

  17. I’ve only been on it once. Walking. I’m glad that I did though.

  18. I would love to have skated on the Rideau. One time when my daughter visited Ottawa she took her skates but the canal was not open for skating.

  19. Awesome place to enjoy. I don't skate but would be glad to stroll around and enjoy all the people on the ice.

  20. I never thought about it being the largest outdoor rink in the world. That's pretty cool. You guys are tough up there!

  21. Looks fantastic … great photographs.

    All the best Jan

  22. I haven't ice skated in yours but used to enjoy it. What a great place to skate.

  23. It must be wonderful to skate such a long distance. I love this entire place! :-)

  24. @Sharon: it is.

    @Jan: some Dutch skaters still come over in the winter to have a go.

    @Anvilcloud: walking it is all I do when I am on it.

    @Red: unfortunately that can happen.

    @Bill: I've strolled it many times.

    @Jeanie: it's a big skating surface.

    @Jan: thank you!

    @Happyone: it is.

    @DJan: so do I.

  25. Skated the whole thing once when I was in town.

  26. Canadians really know how to make the best of winter.

  27. Now I know what a Shinny is :) Lovely photos of the river. It would be wonderful to skate there.

  28. I have one friend who lived in Ottawa. She says it was the best skating of her life. : )

  29. @Joanne: thanks!

    @Furry Gnome: I've walked the whole thing.

    @Kay: we do indeed.

    @Denise: it's quite an informal term.

    @Catalyst: I've never learned.

    @Catarina: the Canal is well used.

  30. The ice skating looks so fun! It must be very cold to keep the canal so frozen!

  31. Fascinating canal area to skate ~ lovely wintry photos ~ ^_^

    Happy Moments to You,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)