Rideau Canal Skateway season ends

Skating the Canal - one of the best things about Ottawa! Photo: Lucy Martin

Skating the Canal – one of the best things about Ottawa! Photo: Lucy Martin

Well, today we’re all hunkering down for yet another winter storm. But take heart, spring is around the corner. That’s why the National Capital Commission (NCC) closed the Rideau Canal yesterday, ending the 44th Skateway season

And what a run it was. It opened (relatively) early and featured some really good ice. Here are some stats, from the NCC press release:

Family Day on the Canal photo: Lucy Martin

Family Day on the Canal photo: Lucy Martin

The 44th skating season on the world’s largest skating rink started on December 31, 2013, and lasted 71 days. Over that period, 58 skating days (including a stretch of 38 consecutive days that overlapped with all three weekends of Winterlude) welcomed more than 1, 200, 000 visits on the Skateway. With over 3, 900 Twitter and 31, 000 Facebook followers, social media was a popular way for the public to share their experiences, pictures and feedback.

NCC’s CEO applauded the staff and ice crews who made it happen:

“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to all staff that were able to make this skating season an exceptional one. Public feedback about the quality of the ice has been extremely positive and I want you to know that this would not have been possible without your hard work and dedication,” said Dr. Mark Kristmanson Tuesday. “I would also like to thank maintenance crews, skate patrol, concessionaires and other contractors for contributing to the Rideau Canal Skateway, a vibrant winter meeting place.”

NCPR organized a bus trip to Ottawa February 8th, lead by Todd Moe and Barb Heller. Here’s more from Todd and Barb on that outing. Sarah Harris put together a whimsical postcard about Winterlude and skating the canal that aired locally and across the country on NPR’s Weekend edition.

We joined thousands of others the Skateway for Family Day (a provincial holiday) for the last gasp of Winterlude. The sunny day made it a real pleasure to skate up and back the whole length: 7.8 km, or almost 5 miles in a single stretch. I expected the ice might be skate-worn as the crowds were fairly thick. But it was quite good. I was impressed. And grateful.

I’m not sure how the NCC counts visits, and many skaters go more than once. So it’s not like 1.2 million different people hit the ice. But tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands? – do. The tradition makes it possible for residents and visitors to go outside and have a great time, promoting good health and a happier community. We love it.

Increasing sunshine and rising temperatures are here. And (let’s face it) most people are plenty ready for spring. But what a season of skating that was!

The end - until next season. Photo: Lucy Martin

The end – until next season. Photo: Lucy Martin



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