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Natural Ice Rink: This rink is not operated by the City of Toronto

Grenadier Pond Profile

Features:

Huge skating area if the weather is right, used to have barrel fires nearby. There is a second skating area just up the street sometimes too.


Grenadier Pond, Toronto Archives

Grenadier Pond, Toronto Archives

Comments about this rink: e-mail us at rinkissues@cityrinks.ca.

Media: read more

Rink Diaries

2016

Feb.14, 2016, from Michael Monastyrskyj

I was walking on Grenadier Pond yesterday and this morning. The ice is thick but there's a fair amount of snow. I talked to two skaters yesterday afternoon. This morning I saw a patch of ice where other people had cleared off the snow to make a little skating rink. Lots of foot- and dog-prints in the snow on the pond.

 
Jan.30, 2016, from Michael Monastyrskyj

I went to Grenadier Pond this Saturday. I skated from noon to 1. I saw a dozen other skaters, two ice fishermen, a few walkers and some dogs on the ice.

I noticed there was thin or no ice along the edge of much of the pond. At first I didn't think I would be going on, but then I saw two skaters going from one end to the other. I found a spot where I've put on my skates before. The ice looked solid so I cautiously ventured on it with my shoes. It was solid so I put on my skates.

I asked a fisherman if he could tell me how thick the ice was. He didn't want to guess but said I could look in the hole for myself. It was hard to tell, but it looked like six inches. When I said that, the fisherman said the ice is still dangerous and I should be on the lookout for soft spots. I didn't come across any.

I had already skated across the pond and back without any problems. Still when the sun came out and I noticed a little melting on the surface I got off. I didn't think six inches of ice were going to melt in an hour, but I didn't want to take any chances. At that point there was only one other skater left.

Jan.29, 2016, from Ali Kazimi

Photo of the pond around 5 pm

There was about a centimetre of granular snow on the surface which hopefully the rain forecast for the next few days will melt so we can get back the wonderful black ice we had last weekend…

January 29, 2016, from Janet Nicol

late afternoon, January 29, 2016

More beautiful skating today on the pond! The ice is great...though a tad noisy for me. Those thunderous growls from the belly of the pond unnerve me! While I squeal, how is it that Richard Sanger laughs? Two different perspectives I guess.

I did some research on why ice makes so much noise and couldn't find much but this, from Cottage Life:

What causes strange noises to come from a frozen lake? The cracking or popping you hear from the ice often occurs when there’s been a temperature change. Lake ice is dynamic. Like any solid, it expands and contracts with temperature changes. The ice cracks, and sometimes you hear it—anything from grinding to a thunder-like boom. A build-up of snow on the ice or fluctuating water levels may also cause the surface to split. The cracks don’t necessarily mean the ice is weakening, even if the sound is unnerving..

Onwards...

January 28, 2016

From Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, noon: "It was lovely until a city of toronto worker blew a whistle and got rude. Well, still. We had a good skate."

From Peter Kuitenbrouwer, 3 p.m.: "On the pond with my dog. Ice is fine!"

January 24, 2016

From Catherine Bush: "Just back from the pond, ice is dark, super-smooth, amazing skating!"


Jan.23 photo: Paul Szeptycki

Jan.24: ice thickness, looking down. Photo: Catherine Bush
 
Jan.23, 2016

Jan.23: "I spy" -- skaters through the trees

From a car, it's very hard to get a clear view of the skaters on Grenadier Pond. You can't stop and get a good look from the Queensway, to the south. When you drive into the park you can leave your car and walk to the brow of the hill that drops off steeply toward the pond, but there are trees blocking your view. And then when you take a picture it looks like you're looking up into the sky, but you're not -- you're looking through the tree branches down toward the pond. At 3 pm today there was a fast shinny hockey game and lots of people were skating around, including someone with a bright turquoise sail.

From Richard Sanger: "two friends texted to say that there were lots of skaters on Grenadier and that the ice there is fantastic…. There’s a shinny game there tomorrow at noon and a full moon tonight!"

 
January 20, 2016

Through the dried grasses and rushes, one can see ice -- with some snow drifts nearby, but further out it looks clear and smooth, dark gray reflecting the sky. No skaters yet, that we could see.


path through the rushes

in the distance, the ice looks smooth and clear
 
Dec.22, 2015

In advance of the icing of Grenadier Pond, Paula Bowley sent two film clips of skating on Windy Arm in the Yukon:

This one, posted on Dec.20, 2015 and this one, done in 2011. From CBC North.


Rink diaries from earlier years:

2015

Feb.19 2015

From our Grenadier Pond correspondent: It's supposed to snow on the weekend so I don't know when I'll get another chance to skate. Thursday was my 10th time this winter. It was very cold. Putting on my skates was hard. There was one other skater. We chatted a bit. People on the pond are almost always friendly. It's a social place. The ice was great, noticeably better than on Wednesday.

February 18, 2015

From our Grenadier Pond correspondent:

There were six skaters on the ice including me. Three guys were playing hockey and a couple were just skating. The shovels are still out for people to use. The paths and skating areas have been cleaned recently.

I talked to David Rider, the City Hall bureau chief for the Toronto Star. He was doing a story about skating on the pond because Sarah Doucette sent a letter to the Parks and Environment committee asking that skating on the pond be allowed.

Here is the Star article.

February 15, 2015

Feb.15, minus 21 degrees

From our Grenadier Pond correspondent:

I went to Grenadier Pond today. I was there from 2 to 3:30pm. Most of the pond is covered in snow, but there are some areas that have been cleared including the rink in the middle that was there last week. I skated for an hour. The ice was good, but the wind was hard on the face. Changing in and out of my skates was hard, because the cold hurt my bare fingers.

There were about a dozen other skaters, mostly parents with children. I spoke to a young couple who were skating there for the first time. A man taking pictures mentioned the skating oval the city used to make. Someone mentions that oval almost every time I'm there.

Feb.7 2015, email and photo from pond skater

Feb.7 sign: "help remove snow tomorrow"

dog sled

There were about thirty skaters despite the thick wet snow covering most of the ice. A man had left out shovels for people to borrow. There is a fairly large cleared area in the centre of the pond and people have made a path from this rink to the south end of the pond.

It looks like there's a thermos waiting for shovellers, by the sign -- hot chocolate as a reward?

 
February 6, 2015

Now the rink is almost completely snow-covered -- mostly people cross-country ski on it, but there's one small rink that been shovelled out.


snow

one small rink remaining
 
January 28, 2015

From Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee: "...for decades, even generations now, people have been coming to Grenadier Pond to skate, municipal codes be damned."

Actually, until the mid-1990s people didn't have to damn the municipal code. Skating was not only allowed on Grenadier Pond, the city encouraged it and made it nicer. In the years when the ice was thick the city staff always made a campfire and put straw bales around it so people could warm themselves. There were NO rink guards -- who needs rink guards? It's not a rink.

And the cost of posting those two friendly campfire guards must have been less than the cost of putting up all those yellow signs and sending out by-law officers.

This bylaw banning skating on the pond was not actually made until 2002, and part of the reason given was saving the money it took to staff the campfire and clear a path on the ice. Before that, on those flukey winters when the ice froze before the snow came, the pond used to look like a Breughel painting.

January 27, 2015, email from Grenadier Pond skater Catherine Bush:

I took my 80 year old mother out on the pond on Sunday. Her suggestion! She loved it -- hadn't skated in 15 years she said. (I think the piece on Richard Sanger in the paper tipped her over the edge.)

January 26, 2015, email from Andrew Lupton, CBC News

Today our radio show Metro Morning did an interview with Coun. Sarah Doucette about the issue of skating at Grenadier Pond. She spoke about the exhilaration of outdoor skating but also also the reasons why it currently isn't legal.

We'd like to follow this with an online and TV story exploring the issues surrounding skating at Grenadier. But we need some people to talk to. So I'm starting here.

I'd love to hear from:

-Any advocate of skating at the pond.

-Anyone who's been ordered off the ice by police/bylaw officers.

-Anyone interested in talking about the issues surrounding allowing people to skate there.

I understand some people were ordered off the ice on Sunday. I'd love to talk to anyone who was there.

andrew.lupton@cbc.ca

Reply from cityrinks.ca:

If risk is the big factor here, maybe the Rideau Canal should be shut down too. If staffing cost is the factor, that's just nonsense. They could do what they do at the 52 municipal outdoor rinks during their unsupervised hours (in the case of some of the rinks, all the time) -- put up signs that say "skating unsupervised, skate at your own risk."

But given the strange mind-space of our city government, civil disobedience is probably the only way.



Sunday Jan.25: s-l-o-w shinny
Jan.25, 2015, email from skater:

At noon today I counted 45 people skating on Grenadier Pond. Maybe half were children brought by their parents. I saw a family playing shinny and parents teaching their kids how to skate.

From National Post reporter Peter Kuitenbrouwer:

The ice on the pond Sunday was the best I can ever remember. About 100 people joined me skating there.

January 23, 2015

The ice at Grenadier Park has been measured (not by city staff) -- it's 12 inches thick. It's so reflective of the clear sky that it actually seems like skaters are skating in the sky. Nevertheless, a by-law officer was sent to the pond in the afternoon, and he stood on the edge of the pond blowing a whistle to signal to skaters to get off. This required the skaters to gather up their shoes and skate into the middle section of the thick pond ice, so that their peaceful skate wouldn't be broken by the shrill of the whistle.


Jan.23: ice is 12 inches thick

where to change -- and the dogs can come too

Question from a tourist visiting from Luxembourg:

Do you estimate there will be more people doing ice skating on tomorrow or Sunday on the Gredanier Pond?

CELOS answered:

I can't tell you whether there will be more skaters on High Park's Grenadier Pond on Saturday or Sunday -- that has to do with the weather. Because of all the "no skating" signs put up on the pond by our city's under-employed risk department, not many people skate on the pond on either day. But our weather has been so cold that the ice is very thick, and there are always some folks who use common sense, instead of reflexive obedience, to decide where they skate.

January 17, 2015

Jan.17: Grenadier Pond maintenance crew

Jan.17: skating on the pond

Lots of people skating on the pond today, no by-law officers showed up. Some discussions among skaters -- about the "no skating" and "ice unsafe" signs. Nobody had ever been approached by a by-law or police officer. One skater said he had been reprimanded by a Parks worker, but that he just turned around and skated away to the middle of the pond and continued to enjoy himself.

There are a few signs that give a by-law number: the 2004 general Parks By-law #608. There is subsection on skating, which includes: 608-21 B. No person shall access or skate on a natural ice surface in a park where it is posted to prohibit it.

The same bylaw also prohibits anyone being in a park between midnight and 5.30 a.m., tree climbing, snowball fights, weeding park gardens without a permit, or playing informal group sports without a permit.

Really? And City Council approved all this, and continues to stand by it?

January 16, 2015

We've been hearing from rink users who have been skating on the pond this week, saying the ice is wonderful. Today when we visited at 11.30 a.m. the ice was thick and smooth, with very thin patches of drift snow on top, here and there -- a dream for skating. There were four skaters to be seen over the vast expanse. There are lots of signs saying "no skating, no access." It sounds like maybe this is NOT a by-law, but rather an internal Parks staff policy that was never taken to City Council. More research needed.


a mile of thick and smooth ice

happy, solitary skater -- freedom

access point from Ellis Avenue

usual signs, posted everywhere
January 13 2015

From skater C.B.: I was out late this afternoon. It's so beautiful. The ice is smooth and hard, but watch for the bumpy patches now under bits of snow. I still found it easy skating. There were only three of us, an old man in his eighties, another middle-aged woman with a hockey stick and me. Apparently the police have been down trying to get people off the ice (perhaps as a result of whatever happened was it Thursday, when someone fell in at the south end??). They were there Sunday morning, apparently, when there were 'throngs' on the ice and everyone just skated to the other end. They chased the old man off the ice this morning. Anyway, a heads up. I probably won't go back tonight but I'm going to try to get out in the afternoon again tomorrow. The light at dusk was extraordinary, ducks overhead, their undersides turned orange.

 


2014

Feb.28 2014:

Message from rink user Chris Lee: "Just wanted to say I was on Grenadier Pond today but it is quite choppy. Won't be any good for skating."



2013

Jan 25, 2013 from Matt

We went this morning. It was a little iffy in the dark, as we didn't have a good sense of the general conditions, but there were skate tracks in the snow from previous days. Snow cover definitely makes it scarier. There was a wet spot near the south end of the pond, and the snow drifts there a bit as well, making skating more difficult. We stayed mostly near the edge but skated all along the pond -- pretty great overall, actually, though the snow makes it a little treacherous! With the warm weather coming I don't know if it will be safe after today. go have some fun before it's too late!

Jan 27 2013, photos by Michael Monastyrskyj

prohibition

pond hockey
Feb.3 2013, photos by Michael Monastyrskyj

smooth ice

more pond hockey

ice quality

that smooth ice goes on forever

Rink Diary 2009

Grenadier Pond


Grenadier Pond 2009-1010
2009: January

Peter Kuitenbrouwer, writing on the National Post web site, January 4 2009:

This morning at 10 a.m. I became the first person of the season, as far as I know, to skate on Grenadier Pond. Every year I watch the thermometer, waiting for the conditions to be right. When the temperature drops, and others curse, I cheer, because the pond is freezing up! Just before Christmas the kids and I went to check on it: we stood on the little deck that overlooks the pond, peeled small sheets of ice off the wood planks and skittered them across its frozen surface. It looked frozen. But I put the tip of my boot on the ice at the edge and I plunged through. So we waited.

But with the cold snap we've had since the new year, I had a feeling the pond would be okay. In the quiet still of the morning, having parked by the Colbourne Lodge, I slid down the hill through the woods, dampening the seat of my jeans, to reach the shore. I looked. About 5 cm of powdery snow covers the pond. In the snow I saw dog prints and, more promising, the tracks of a cross-country skier. I laced up my CCMs and took off the skate guards. And I took the plunge.

Ice report: the snow has a tiny crust, and in places the wind has traced ripples on the snow. Under the snow, the ice is a little bit bumpy in parts. The snow is thin enough that I could skate across the pond without shoveling it. However, I'd recommend you take a shovel and clear off a speed-skating oval or, more importantly, a hockey rink. It may be a bit bumpy; even so, it is, as always, Toronto's best skating option..... Grenadier is a sheet of perfect, natural glass. And no tax dollars were spent making it so. So get out there, skate, ignore the city's "Ice Unsafe" signs, and happy new year.

Views

2013

Jan 25, 2013 from Matt

We went this morning. It was a little iffy in the dark, as we didn't have a good sense of the general conditions, but there were skate tracks in the snow from previous days. Snow cover definitely makes it scarier. There was a wet spot near the south end of the pond, and the snow drifts there a bit as well, making skating more difficult. We stayed mostly near the edge but skated all along the pond -- pretty great overall, actually, though the snow makes it a little treacherous! With the warm weather coming I don't know if it will be safe after today. go have some fun before it's too late!

Jan 27 2013, photos by Michael Monastyrskyj

prohibition

pond hockey
Feb.3 2013, photos by Michael Monastyrskyj

smooth ice

more pond hockey

ice quality

that smooth ice goes on forever

Rink Diary 2009

Grenadier Pond


Grenadier Pond 2009-1010
2009: January

Peter Kuitenbrouwer, writing on the National Post web site, January 4 2009:

This morning at 10 a.m. I became the first person of the season, as far as I know, to skate on Grenadier Pond. Every year I watch the thermometer, waiting for the conditions to be right. When the temperature drops, and others curse, I cheer, because the pond is freezing up! Just before Christmas the kids and I went to check on it: we stood on the little deck that overlooks the pond, peeled small sheets of ice off the wood planks and skittered them across its frozen surface. It looked frozen. But I put the tip of my boot on the ice at the edge and I plunged through. So we waited.

But with the cold snap we've had since the new year, I had a feeling the pond would be okay. In the quiet still of the morning, having parked by the Colbourne Lodge, I slid down the hill through the woods, dampening the seat of my jeans, to reach the shore. I looked. About 5 cm of powdery snow covers the pond. In the snow I saw dog prints and, more promising, the tracks of a cross-country skier. I laced up my CCMs and took off the skate guards. And I took the plunge.

Ice report: the snow has a tiny crust, and in places the wind has traced ripples on the snow. Under the snow, the ice is a little bit bumpy in parts. The snow is thin enough that I could skate across the pond without shoveling it. However, I'd recommend you take a shovel and clear off a speed-skating oval or, more importantly, a hockey rink. It may be a bit bumpy; even so, it is, as always, Toronto's best skating option..... Grenadier is a sheet of perfect, natural glass. And no tax dollars were spent making it so. So get out there, skate, ignore the city's "Ice Unsafe" signs, and happy new year.

 

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