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< January 21 - 26 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | January 11 - 15 >

Tuesday January 20, 2009


Weather: High -10, low -16. Sunny all day, but not warm, and going down. In the morning there were lots of kids from Queen Vic School, but then later the rink was pretty empty -- some people said it's because everyone was watching Obama's inauguration on TV.

Ice maintenance: 9am hockey scrape and flood, pleasure side scrape only, 1.35 same as above, 3;15 scrape and flood hockey and pleasure, 7pm s&f both sides, 9pm s&f both sides.

In the evening after nine there were a lot of people on the "pond hockey" side -- the pleasure-skating side which is only allowed to be used for hockey after the rink building closes. The zamboni driver gave them a nice flood and helped to bring the shinny nets out, and then the game began. Drop-in women's shinny was on the other side, also well attended.

Four guys were there from Etobicoke, who talked about how much they like to play shinny at Prince of Wales Rink. They recently discovered that there's rarely much of a crowd in the daytime, "but you can never get in there at prime time, it's always permits."

So today they played at Prince of Wales from noon to four, went home to eat dinner, and then drove to Dufferin Rink to play some more.

Some of the evening shinny folks
Click on image to enlarge it.

women's drop-in shinny

Some of the regulars were there too, although there were many new faces. One of the loyal regulars is a very keen shinny player named Will. His mother was in town, visiting from Orillia, and she came to the rink tonight to have a look around. Will is one of the few skaters who regularly reads the rink diary, and his mother knew about it too. She said that she finds Toronto a bit too big now......but sometimes it seems very small, with ordinary, friendly stories being passed around among ordinary people, such as the ones who come to the rink, and those of us who work there, and people's mothers who visit from out of town.

In that context, extraordinary people can find a toehold too. There is a women, M., who stands in the middle of the park in all seasons and sings loudly and alarms people with her odd comments. She has made friends with the rink staff, and when it's cold she often comes to the clubhouse, carrying big bags, and spends time inside where it's warm. The staff give her food, and have become very fond of her. She just sort of belongs there. It's interesting to watch skaters as they lace up their skates and look uneasily at M. doing one of her unusual monologues. When the staff, and others who have come to know M., make jokes and put an arm around her, you can see the other people's faces relax. The context is solid enough that it can carry a certain portion of odd behaviours.

That also includes H., who is sometimes quite delusional, other times just a Maritimer who likes to drink. Tonight he was perfectly compos mentes, just standing at the door waiting for a cab to take him to the shelter for the night. He often sleeps in the park, but minus 16 is too cold. When the cab came, he said goodbye to the people in the rink clubhouse as though he was leaving a friend's house. No big deal, and his shopping cart with all his stuff is safely stored in the garage for the night.

Meantime out on the rink, the game followed its pattern under the night sky.

"pond hockey" -- some people prefer this to the hockey side
Monday January 19, 2009


Weather: high -3, low -12. Snow sifting gently down for much of the day. Lots of school visits, rink users shoveling. The zamboni drivers worked at filling in the thin spots that seem to be all over the ice. One driver does it one way, the other one does it another way -- everybody has a different opinion. But it's a puzzle -- why is the ice so thin in so many places on the hockey side?

The pond hockey group were back, good-humoured as always. There were no subs, so they skated for almost two hours. Impressive. On the hockey side, the "Dufferin Groove" permit had a gigantic turnout. It's almost getting to the time when people will begin to get anxious about the imminent windup of the outdoor rink season. But first -- another deep cold period coming this weekend, this time hopefully without a power outage.

Ice maintenance: 10am no flood. Just scrape. Concrete patches pointed to driver who patched one big one up. 1:15 scrape and flood both sides, 4:30 late flood for hockey pad, scrape of pleasure side, 7pm, 9pm.


Giovanni Caboto

E-mail from Parks supervisor Dave Chapman to Please excuse me for taking so long to get back to you, but the Supervisor (Mike Hindle) of that area was away and has just returned. Mike has provided the background as I remember from the time when the new building was built. The fact is that the building was meant for providing change rooms for the Outdoor Pool and the AIR was more of an after thought. The change rooms for the access to the pool run off the hallway which is the AIR change area in the Winter. During the summer when there are more staff in place there are always staff in the building. Unfortunately in the Winter the rink staff are expected to be out on the rink and for that reason they want to be aware at all time who is entering and exiting from the Building. For security reasons they keep the doors closed so that nobody can slip in or out without being seen and thereby eliminating any chances of illegal activity in the building while nobody is there.

When I spoke to Mike this afternoon he advised me that he had spoken to the Port-o-let people who are trying to get the toilet removed from the location altogether to provide an easier access to the rink. It might be 1 or 2 days before they can take care of it, but they hope to get it moved before the end of the week.

January 19 2009, e-mail from to Parks supervisor Dave Chapman

The front doors at Giovanni Caboto Rink have been used for decades, and they do not look like an afterthought. There's an excellent stairway and a big "Artificial Ice Rink" sign that's part of the original building (see photo attached). As for supervision -- there is always a zamboni driver on site and his office door is right by that entryway. The drivers are usually in there. It's true that there is no window in the office door, and the door is always shut, but they can prop the door open --yes? Lead hands are supposed to deal with the public as part of their job.

I well remember how active that rink used to be and it's very sad how it has slid in the last few years.

You will note that (happily) keeping the front doors locked is not common at other Toronto outdoor rinks, except for West Mall. And the zamboni staff told me the front doors are locked because it's not their job to shovel the stairs, not because of the reasoning you have advanced here.

May I post my query and your response on the big empty bulletin board at JJP, to see if other rink users can see the point of this locked door? I would need explicit direction from management to JJP rink staff, giving permission to post, since I was cautioned by an irate young off-duty rink guard about taking the outdoor skating photos on here (I was actually trying to show that there's some life in the rink despite the obstacles).

Please let me know if you give this permission.

January 19 2009, e-mail from Parks supervisor Dave Chapman to

I will speak to the staff at the rink, but as far back as I can remember that door is never opened in the Winter. I will get back to you.

January 19 2009, e-mail from Parks supervisor Dave Chapman to

I am still looking into this and I have now been advised by Recreation staff that the gate which opens to the ice surface should be closed and the glass doors opened, except during a flood. I am still working on it and will get back to you with confirmation as soon as I can.

Sunday January 18, 2009


Weather: nice and mild again, high -5, low -11. It snowed lightly all day, and the rink was really full of people, all of them relieved, perhaps, to be back to a normal life without blackouts or bone-chilling cold.

snowy rink

Sunday skater

Ice maintenance: Plow and zamboni from 9, finished getting the snow off at 11.30. Rec staff and rink users shoveled off the ice at 2pm. Zamboni, scrape only at 3.15, then again at 5.15 (after Family shinny program had already begun). Rec staff and rink users shoveled off the rink again at 6.30, then zamboni at 8.

With this much rink use, it's time to ask that Dufferin Rink keep its maintenance staff on-site to do the ice as needed, as is the case with the other double pads (mostly).

Skate lending may come with skate lacing

everybody loves these hockey-stick window guards

Family shinny kids wait for the zamboni

Sunday Jan 18 2009, e-mail to Peter Leiss, outdoor rink maintenance supervisor, cc to Kevin Bowser, City outdoor rink manager, City Councillor Adam Giambrone and his assistant Chris Gallop -- from Jutta Mason,

Dufferin Rink was so busy again today, and because of the crowds and the light snow all day, the rink needed the same kind of steady, weather-responsive ice maintenance that Rennie Rink gets. Instead, the rink users had to clear it themselves twice, and twice yesterday. I have the impression that rink staff have to call you and ask specially for weather-responsive maintenance, and then it's still a cliffhanger whether the zamboni driver will return to the rink or not.

So I'm wondering -- does Dufferin Rink have a designated zamboni driver on every shift, or not? If not, why not? And if so, why does he not stay at the rink during heavy-use times or snowy days, as the Rennie drivers do?


Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: plow and zamboni at 10.30 a.m. 12.30 p.m. rink users and rec staff shoveled both sides, 2.30 rink users and rec staff shovelled pleasure rink again. (Very full of people.) Zamboni scraped at 6 pm. No floods.

Saturday January 17, 2009


Weather: started out at -20, then went up to -7: a relief! The rinkhouse was very cold in the morning. A City technician came out and said he didn't know what was wrong, so he called in a contractor, who said that the furnace filters were so clogged that they had tripped the circuits and the power was off. He took out the filters for the weekend and then the heat came back on.

Ice maintenance: 9 a.m., 1.30pm, 5 pm (scrape only because it had begun to snow). Then word came that there was a problem with the flying squad trailer, and the Dufferin Rink zamboni driver left to help them. Soon after he left, two cement patches showed up in the middle of the hockey ice. Since they were snow-covered, the staff were able to put pylons over them, and they said they would point them out to the zamboni driver when he came back to do the next ice maintenance. But he didn't come back and the staff couldn't get an answer when they tried to page the supervisor. So that was the end of any zamboni ice maintenance. The snow kept falling. At 7.30 the rec staff and rink users shoveled off the ice. The zamboni driver came back at 9.15, said the ice was too snowy for the machine, and left for the night. A big group of hockey players came at about 9.30 and shoveled off half the ice, and played hockey.

At Ramsden, meanwhile, the zamboni driver stayed on site the whole time (same at other double pads, we hope) and kept on clearing the snow off the ice.



At 10am the ice was snowy from use. No one was skating or playing hockey. At 11:30, the flying squad parked in front of the rinkhouse. At 11:55 after the workers had their coffee break, the Zamboni scraped the ice. The workers didn't do a flood.

There was no one on the ice from 10 to 12:30, when the first player arrived. Then a few of the younger rink rats arrived. There were 5-10 players on the ice at at time throughout the afternoon. A woman came by with her granddaughter for pleasure-skating. Seeing the hockey players she decided to call a cab and go to Wallace-Emerson.

Saturday 4-6 is set aside for pleasure skating. Today's turnout was low as it has been every Saturday this year, though there are a few people who turn out regularly. It was snowing and very cold which didn't help.

At 4pm the staff made a campfire by the side of the rink and started serving hot chocolate and doughnuts fried over the fire. A woman came by with her young son. They had been here last week too. At first there was only one pleasure skater. He said he wouldn't be there long and didn't want the hockey players to leave the ice because of him.

A half hour later a few more pleasure skaters arrived and the building attendant told the hockey players they had stop playing hockey until 6pm. A few of the older players skated for a while but got bored and left. Some of the younger ones went to the campfire. One of the skaters was a woman celebrating her birthday. She came skating with some friends. Altogether there were eleven pleasure skaters today including the three hockey players.

Usually the hockey players jump on the ice as soon as pleasure skating is over, but tonight there weren't any, allowing two skaters who arrived just before 6 to keep skating longer.

At 8pm, three boys were playing hockey. They had shovelled some snow against the board. Rink staff had to explain to them that this causes problems for the Zamboni. As of 8pm, the only maintenance.


Christie Pits

A parent and her child came to skate, having apparently been told at the Bob Abate community centre that they could rent skates at Christie Pits. It might help if CELOS put up a sign with the January newsletter text:


Dufferin Rink staff, working on the principle of making good use of existing city assets, got involved with running Christie Rink this year. But it was tricky from the beginning. The week before the rink was set to open, an order came from downtown advising the removal of the rink wood stove on the grounds that (1) wood stoves in public buildings are against the fire code and (2) permission for installation had not been properly granted. Since neither of those reasons turned out to be correct, the wood stove was allowed to stay. But problems continued. Dufferin Rink staff had worked with CELOS and the Women of Winter Tournament to assemble a Christie rental skate collection. But it turned out that the Christie/Trinity Recreation supervisor was not happy with rink staff handling cash, so the $2 skate rental times were limited to two hours a week. That left out even the daytime school groups. The same limitation prevented the use of Christie Rink’s kitchen for more than two hours a week. Doing a healthy-snacks rink café, to bring in more families and school classes and improve the week-night youth scene, takes more than two hours a week. Too many blocks! Too bad. So “making good use of city assets,” including unused existing kitchens (and under-used existing staff expertise) will have to wait for another season.

Ice maintenance: 11 a,m, scrape only. The rink closed at 8 pm because of snow and no maintenance (broken flying squad truck).


Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: at 9 a.m. only. So crowded that rink users and rec staff did a manual scrape at 5.30 (Flying squad truck broke). The rink had to close at 8.30.

Friday January 16 2009


Weather: high -14, low -20. Sunny most of the day. Most of the neighbourhood was still cut off from power, i.e. heat and light, until 9.30 pm. The park's power came on again in the early morning, though, so the rink house warmed up and the staff put in a fire. Lots of schools were closed because of no heat. There were some extra kids at the rink, but not many. There were some non-skating families who came and sat by the woodstove just to get warm, from their cold houses. At suppertime there were people who came just to get supper. But skaters were few. If your house is freezing, you don't much feel like going to an ice rink!

Ice maintenance: 9 am, 1.30 pm, 3.15 pm, others unrecorded.



At 11:30am the ice was snowy and needed to be scraped. At noon hockey players started arriving. At 12:30 ten men and boys were playing a game of shinny. As the afternoon wore on some left and more arrived. At least five of the players were boys whose schools were closed because of the massive power outage that hit west-end Toronto last night. Although large parts of west-central Toronto were still without power today, there was electricity and heat at the Campbell rinkhouse.

At 2, a few of the younger players used the rink's green shovels to scrape snow off the ice. They worked for about twenty minutes while the B/A helped. At 2:30, the some of the hockey players told the B/A who was in the rinkhouse that the Zamboni had come. The players said that a worker had looked at the ice and then the Zamboni had left. The players wanted to know why the Zamboni hadn't flooded the ice. The B/A said he didn't know but he thought the city worker might have left because there was no snow on the ice. How is that fair? asked one of the boys. "The ice has cracks," he added.

At 6:30 the Zamboni came and scraped the ice, but didn't flood it. The truck pulling the Zamboni had trouble going south along Campbell because there was a long line-up of cars headed towards Wallace.

Late afternoon and early evening were quiet with only a handful (5-6) players at a time on the ice. A few of the regular rink rats hung around the rinkhouse to chat, play checkers and drink hot chocolate, which the building attendant gave out for free because it was so cold outside.

There was a permit at 9. The first member of the group arrived at 8:30. It took a while for the rest to arrive. One fellow came be bike. While the early arrivals waited for the others to come, one man said it would be ridiculous to cancel shinny because it's too cold. Hockey, after all, was meant to be played in cold weather.


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< January 21 - 26 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | January 11 - 15 >

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