Well…frozen water, that is. Not going skating at all last year on the Rideau Canal (the weather last year was really wonky with its unusually mild temperatures) meant that I didn’t get to test the post-zamboni’d ice (the NCC started using a zamboni last year on the Canal) and I didn’t get to check out the brand new beautiful chalets (change rooms).
The annual Winterlude winter festival runs from February 1 through 18 and, although the Rideau Canal is open for as long as the weather supports, it is a key feature of Winterlude. There are several food vendors at key points along the Canal, including the famous Beavertails, maple taffy on snow, and old-fashioned candy, as well as free hot apple cider and hot chocolate on the weekends (as long as supplies last).
I checked out the chalet at Fifth Avenue; it’s quite nice inside (toasty and clean) with benches to sit down on while you put on your skates and cubby holes to put your boots in while you go for your skate. There are still outdoor benches by every ‘entrance’ to the Canal and I just leave my boots in a bag under the bench while I go for a skate but I can appreciate having a warm chalet to sit in!
I used to be a good skater as a kid but I don’t think skating is like riding a bike. I’m trying to relearn how to stop quickly and also skate with more ease. I find it a bit much to skate the entire 7.8km Skateway there and back (which really ends up being 15.6km in total) so this year, my strategy will be to skate different sections of the Canal with the hopes of having skated the entire thing over the course of this winter season. I own my skates so this is a great free outdoor activity. Fun times!