Where to skate in Ottawa

With all the cold weather we have been having it’s no wonder all the skating rinks around the city are filled with eager skaters young and old. To help you decide where to lace up, here’s a list of various ice skating rinks in and around Ottawa (and a little further out too). 

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Rideau Canada Skateway

Weather permitting, the Rideau Canal is open to skaters daily from roughly late December (whenever it’s ready!) to late February (when it starts to thaw). And it’s free! There are many change huts, skate rental shacks and snack stations (yum - Beavertails!) all along its 7.8 km length. We recommend checking the ice conditions before you head out to avoid disappointed little skaters should it be closed.

SENS Rink of Dreams

If the Rideau Canal is closed you can almost-always count on the SENS Rink of Dreams at City Hall to be open. This refrigerated outdoor skating rink is open from December to March from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. It’s a large rink that features LED lighting, a heated change hut, picnic tables and benches. Skate rentals and skate sharpening are available on weeknights and weekends, check out the City’s website for information on hours.

Landsdowne Park Skating Court

Weather permitting, the Lansdowne Park Skating Court is open from early December to mid-March. There is on-street parking nearby. Free open skating sessions are available daily.

Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink

Ben Franklin Place’s outdoor skating rink in Ottawa’s West End (Nepean) has a heated changing facility and is open daily from 11 am to 8 pm (weather permitting).

Rideau Hall Skating Rink

The historic skating rink at the Governor General of Canada’s residence, located on Sussex Drive, was established in 1872. Rideau Hall’s refrigerated outdoor skating rink offers free public skating sessions on Saturdays and Sundays from roughly December through March, weather permitting.

RiverOak Skating Trail 

Located in Metcalfe, RiverOak offers a unique outdoor winter experience with more than three kms of skating trails through old growth apple orchards. Their on-site facilities include a heated changing area in a charming log cabin, food and drink, and a hockey rink for pickup games. They also have unique events happening all winter long! For details visit their website at: www.riveroak.ca

Patinage en Fort (Skating Through the Forest)

Located Lac des Loups, Quebec (about 45 minutes north of downtown Ottawa), this skating rink is a 3-kilometer open-air ice loop which winds through tall trees. There is a heated chalet onsite. A very limited number of skate rentals are available, so if you can – bring your own! Visit their website for more information.

Perth Outfitters Skating Trail

About one hour south of Ottawa in Perth, Ontario is Perth Outfitters. They offer a 400-metre (0.2 mile) skating trail through the woods (including lantern skate events on Friday and Saturday evenings). There’s also a shinny hockey rink, log cabin and warm treats. A fun way to spend a weekend evening!

Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail

Although it’s a bit of a drive (about 3.5 hours from west Ottawa), this ice skating trail is considered one of the most stunning natural skating rinks around the world! The 1.3 km ice skating trail winds through think Muskoka forest and is magical anytime of day! The park is very busy on weekends, so the ark recommends visiting during the week if you can.  Visit their website for more information.

City of Ottawa Outdoor Ice Rinks

There are many volunteer-run outdoor community ice rinks across the city – several even have huts to change in and out of your skates. Check out the City’s website for more information.

City of Ottawa Indoor Ice Skating

Ottawa is home to several indoor arenas that offer affordable public skating sessions and skate rentals. Visit the City of Ottawa website for more information or to find an arena near you.

Winterlude, Winter Sports

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite books for children with us. This month’s post is by Sue Townley from the Sunnyside Branch.

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Tacky and the Winter Games by Helen Lester
Tacky the penguin is back to compete at the penguin winter Olympics. While the other penguins train and prepare Tacky is his usual lazy self and continues to sleep through the exercises and eat all his favourite foods, pizza, chips doughnuts. In the end Tacky saves the day and leads his team to victory in his fun and zany way. A fun read aloud, especially during winter Olympics years.

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Pearl’s New Skates by Holly Keller
Pearl receives a pair of skates for her birthday and can’t wait to try them out. She practices her twirls and spins and dreams of how she will gracefully skate over the lake. When the lake finally freezes over she joyfully heads out to skate. She soon learns that it is not as easy as she thought, as she falls head over heels and soon wants to give up. With some encouragement from her Uncle Jack she learns about persistence and succeeds in enjoying herself skating.

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Hans Brinker by Bruce Coville
A beautifully illustrated picture book version of the classic Mary Mapes Dodge tale. This version is much shortened but keeps the key elements of the original story. Hans bravely finds medical help for his father, finds his family’s missing money, and shows his strength of character during the famous skating race. The illustrations by Laurel Long contribute to the classic, nostalgic feel of the book. A magical wintery classic for the older reader.

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Polar Skater by Sally Grindley
With charming, fanciful illustrations by Heli Hieta the reader is captured by the joy of a young girl learning to skate by herself for the first time. She slides off into an imaginary winter world filled with walrus’, polar bears, wolves and snow geese. Her happiness is contagious and the reader is swept up into the wonder of winter. With rhyming text this book makes a wonderful wintery read aloud for the preschool set.

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The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden
With talk of the Elfstadentocht taking place this year in Holland this is a perfect read to introduce young readers to the excitement of long distance skating. Set in 1941 in war torn Holland, we are introduced to ten year old Piet who must help his young neighbours escape from the Nazis, who have imprisoned their father for passing messages to the Allies. Piet, a strong skater, leads them along the canals the sixteen kilometres between Sluis and Brugge, Belgium, outwitting German soldiers. In the story we learn about Pim Mueller, the founder of the Elfstadentocht, the Eleven City race that takes place on the canals of Holland on winters the weather allows the 200 kilometre race to take place. Filled with action and tension this is a good read aloud for the older reader.

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Sam the Zamboni Man by James Stevenson
Young Matt comes to visit his grandfather, a zamboni driver, in this charming intergenerational tale. Matt has never seen a hockey game or a zamboni and when his grandfather takes him to see his first game his gets to see how important his grandfather is. His grandfather, a former hockey player, awes Matt with not only his zamboni driving skills but his skating skills as well, when he takes Matt to visit the stadium on a quiet night. The highlight of the trip is when Matt gets an opportunity to drive the zamboni himself. His grandfather promises to teach him to skate and play hockey next time he comes for a visit. This combination of hockey and machinery will surely be a hit with younger hockey fans.

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Just One Goal by Robert Munsch
Robert Munsch and hockey is a perfect combination. A fun filled story of a girl named Ciara who desperately wants a hockey rink on the river so that she does not have to go all the way across town to play hockey. With a bit of determination and some help from her father she builds that rink and everyone comes out to play. Somehow Ciara’s team cannot seem to win a game and by the final game Ciara is determined to score the winning goal. She is in a race with spring to get her goal before spring melts her rink. A rollicking, action filled tale by one of Canada’s great storytellers.

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Sophie Skates by Rachael Isadora
Rachael Isadora, best known for her ballet stories, turns her attention to the world of figure skating. Sophie, age eight, is determined to become a professional figure skater. Sophie’s day begins at 5:00 a.m., with skating lessons and continues through school and then back to the rink to skate some more. This book is an excellent balance between story and information with details about how to properly tie skates and ice-skating moves. With action filled illustrations this is a nice introduction to the hard work and dedication required of a young athlete.