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Welcome to The Unofficial Website of Toronto's Outdoor Skating Rinks

There's nothing like outdoor skating

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Toronto Island Park Profile

Features: See articles below

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Became skateable at the very end of December

Comments about this rink: e-mail us at [email protected].


Rink Diary

2017- 2018

Jan.1, 2018: photos from Toronto Island and harbour, from Michael Monastyrskyj






 
Jan.1, 2018

Toronto Island. Photo: Rick Simon

From Alec Farquhar: Well it was really cold out there. But a few of us were out on the harbour today. Other than where the fire boat or Ongiara are breaking channels, the ice is 5 - 6 inches thick or more. The wind has blown away a lot of snow, so we're starting to see some black ice patches as you can see. The best ice was in the area sheltered by the RCYC mooring docks. This is where Rick Simon took this photo - but his camera was frozen so couldn't do his usual magic.

Dec.28, 2017

From Alec Farquhar: Some of the ice is still thin. Should be thicker Friday. Check carefully to make sure of thickness, make sure you have your safety gear, don't go far from shore.

There are beautiful hoarfrost flowers all over the ice, some large and quite exquisite.


Dec.28, 2017, Toronto Harbour

Dec.28, 2017, Toronto Island
 

Rink diaries from earlier years:

Feb.11, 2017, from Nicole Fritz

We went to the Island today but sadly the ice didn't look safe to skate on. I asked a couple of the locals & they didn't recommend it either. Figured I should pass on what I saw & heard.

Feb.10, 2017, from Rebecca Campbell

We had an amazing skate island-side today! Long Pond was black ice, but it was snowing by the time we got out. We met Rick and Alec, two of Wards’ foremost ice condition authorities, on their way back from a pre-snow skate, so we were well advised by the masters — otherwise it would have been (and certainly would have felt) pretty risky, with no visual guide. Wonderful!

Jan.15, 2017, from Richard Sanger

Long Pond on the island was amazing, smooth black and green ice going forever and lots of hardy Islanders to reassure you how safe it is — and using their “sonar” to determine the thickness — tapping the ice with the butt-end of a hockey and listening... 3 inches, 2 inches… They’re the real experts of wild ice.


 

2016

Jan.29, 2016, photos sent by Alec Farquhar


 
January 23, 2016. Email from Richard Sanger:

Jan.23: Long Pond, Toronto Island. Photo: Rick Simon

"Following Rick Simon (and his photo below), I went out and had a great skate on Long Pond at the Islands this afternoon: beautiful smooth black ice."

 

January 26, 2015

From skater Richard Sanger: Island skating: I went to the island on Sunday on the 12:40 ferry and came back on the 2;30pm--It's not as good as it was last year (or perhaps as Grenadier is now) but there's some wonderful clear black ice in the harbour, the closer to Toronto the blacker and smoother, and the cracks you see all seem to go down about a foot. The Islanders marked off a safe boundary by putting their old Christmas trees on the ice but it must be safe well beyond them. Around Algonquin there's quite a lot of old choppy ice: I put on my skates at the closest docks facing Algonquin and had to crawl under the gangway to the Rapids Queen to get out onto the harbour. After skating the harbour, I crawled back, and skated up the lagoon, past the Islanders' Sunday hockey game and, keeping left, up those waterways, past the church and RCYC, to Centre Island. I'd never done that before and it felt like I imagine those river skates in Holland must feel. The ice was alternately smooth and nice, and then choppy--and there had been open water under some of the bridges--and there was still some near the RCYC docks. On the ferry over, I met a woman who was taking a group of 5 not overly proficient skaters up all the little inlets there. "Someone falls in going under a bridge every year", she said and laughed "only up to their ankles or so".

January 26, 2015

Toronto Star article by Marco Chown Oved:

....Toronto has a long history of skating on the harbour that includes ice-boat races and New Year’s Eve balls on the ice. Those traditions live on in a much reduced form, primarily preserved by a small community of people who live on the Toronto Island.

Each winter they watch the weather and check the ice. They start tentatively in the lagoons between the Islands, and if it gets cold enough, they’ll venture onto the harbour, which can freeze into more than three square kilometres of skating bliss.

Alix McLaughlin is a third-generation islander who cherishes her childhood memories of skating on the harbour and heating her feet up in the oven afterward. In the 1970s, her father, who was a Canadian Olympic sailor, would take the family out for ice-boat regattas on Toronto and Hamilton harbours every winter.

January 11, 2014

Globe and Mail article, by Ian Merringer:

Island resident Geoff Currie, 58, oversees the volunteer-run rinks. In a few weeks, the huge pad near the Queen City Yacht Club docks will host the Mallard Cup, the community tournament that sees up to 40 shinny players swinging sticks (and shovels).

Mr. Currie used to maintain rinks offshore in the harbour. One morning a few years ago, he woke up on the day of the tournament to find the wind had moved the harbour ice, rinks included, out into Lake Ontario overnight.

“People said they saw my prized four-foot scraping shovels floating off toward Rochester,” says Mr. Currie.

That’s part of life on the water. Another part is what Rick Simon calls “skating the wild ice.”

Mr. Simon, a 45-year veteran of the islands, says that, while conditions can be especially variable around bridges, skating the interior canals and lagoons opens the islands up for exploration.

“You can go for long distances instead of in circles, duck into inlets to skate among trees, glide over places where you see beaver swimming in the summer,” says Mr. Simon.

Feb.10 2013

Toronto Star article, by Marco Chown Oved


Feb.3, 2013, photo by Alec Farquhar

“As far as we’re aware, there is nothing we’ve ever enforced, nor is it enforceable,” said police spokesperson Const. Wendy Drummond.

The police Marine Unit recently purchased an ice boat that skims across the surface like a hovercraft. In their new boat, police patrol the ice around the islands, discouraging people from skating, Davey said.

This has led to some stand-offs between residents, who won’t give up the long-held tradition, and police, who see it as unsafe.

“Once, they even tried to make us wear life jackets,” Davey said.

Each freeze-up would bring another confrontation until several years ago, when local MP Olivia Chow tromped out onto the ice to mediate.

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Rink Diary 2014-2015

2017- 2018

Jan.1, 2018: photos from Toronto Island and harbour, from Michael Monastyrskyj






 
Jan.1, 2018

Toronto Island. Photo: Rick Simon

From Alec Farquhar: Well it was really cold out there. But a few of us were out on the harbour today. Other than where the fire boat or Ongiara are breaking channels, the ice is 5 - 6 inches thick or more. The wind has blown away a lot of snow, so we're starting to see some black ice patches as you can see. The best ice was in the area sheltered by the RCYC mooring docks. This is where Rick Simon took this photo - but his camera was frozen so couldn't do his usual magic.

Dec.28, 2017

From Alec Farquhar: Some of the ice is still thin. Should be thicker Friday. Check carefully to make sure of thickness, make sure you have your safety gear, don't go far from shore.

There are beautiful hoarfrost flowers all over the ice, some large and quite exquisite.


Dec.28, 2017, Toronto Harbour

Dec.28, 2017, Toronto Island
 

Rink diaries from earlier years:

Feb.11, 2017, from Nicole Fritz

We went to the Island today but sadly the ice didn't look safe to skate on. I asked a couple of the locals & they didn't recommend it either. Figured I should pass on what I saw & heard.

Feb.10, 2017, from Rebecca Campbell

We had an amazing skate island-side today! Long Pond was black ice, but it was snowing by the time we got out. We met Rick and Alec, two of Wards’ foremost ice condition authorities, on their way back from a pre-snow skate, so we were well advised by the masters — otherwise it would have been (and certainly would have felt) pretty risky, with no visual guide. Wonderful!

Jan.15, 2017, from Richard Sanger

Long Pond on the island was amazing, smooth black and green ice going forever and lots of hardy Islanders to reassure you how safe it is — and using their “sonar” to determine the thickness — tapping the ice with the butt-end of a hockey and listening... 3 inches, 2 inches… They’re the real experts of wild ice.


 

2016

Jan.29, 2016, photos sent by Alec Farquhar


 
January 23, 2016. Email from Richard Sanger:

Jan.23: Long Pond, Toronto Island. Photo: Rick Simon

"Following Rick Simon (and his photo below), I went out and had a great skate on Long Pond at the Islands this afternoon: beautiful smooth black ice."

 

January 26, 2015

From skater Richard Sanger: Island skating: I went to the island on Sunday on the 12:40 ferry and came back on the 2;30pm--It's not as good as it was last year (or perhaps as Grenadier is now) but there's some wonderful clear black ice in the harbour, the closer to Toronto the blacker and smoother, and the cracks you see all seem to go down about a foot. The Islanders marked off a safe boundary by putting their old Christmas trees on the ice but it must be safe well beyond them. Around Algonquin there's quite a lot of old choppy ice: I put on my skates at the closest docks facing Algonquin and had to crawl under the gangway to the Rapids Queen to get out onto the harbour. After skating the harbour, I crawled back, and skated up the lagoon, past the Islanders' Sunday hockey game and, keeping left, up those waterways, past the church and RCYC, to Centre Island. I'd never done that before and it felt like I imagine those river skates in Holland must feel. The ice was alternately smooth and nice, and then choppy--and there had been open water under some of the bridges--and there was still some near the RCYC docks. On the ferry over, I met a woman who was taking a group of 5 not overly proficient skaters up all the little inlets there. "Someone falls in going under a bridge every year", she said and laughed "only up to their ankles or so".

January 26, 2015

Toronto Star article by Marco Chown Oved:

....Toronto has a long history of skating on the harbour that includes ice-boat races and New Year’s Eve balls on the ice. Those traditions live on in a much reduced form, primarily preserved by a small community of people who live on the Toronto Island.

Each winter they watch the weather and check the ice. They start tentatively in the lagoons between the Islands, and if it gets cold enough, they’ll venture onto the harbour, which can freeze into more than three square kilometres of skating bliss.

Alix McLaughlin is a third-generation islander who cherishes her childhood memories of skating on the harbour and heating her feet up in the oven afterward. In the 1970s, her father, who was a Canadian Olympic sailor, would take the family out for ice-boat regattas on Toronto and Hamilton harbours every winter.

January 11, 2014

Globe and Mail article, by Ian Merringer:

Island resident Geoff Currie, 58, oversees the volunteer-run rinks. In a few weeks, the huge pad near the Queen City Yacht Club docks will host the Mallard Cup, the community tournament that sees up to 40 shinny players swinging sticks (and shovels).

Mr. Currie used to maintain rinks offshore in the harbour. One morning a few years ago, he woke up on the day of the tournament to find the wind had moved the harbour ice, rinks included, out into Lake Ontario overnight.

“People said they saw my prized four-foot scraping shovels floating off toward Rochester,” says Mr. Currie.

That’s part of life on the water. Another part is what Rick Simon calls “skating the wild ice.”

Mr. Simon, a 45-year veteran of the islands, says that, while conditions can be especially variable around bridges, skating the interior canals and lagoons opens the islands up for exploration.

“You can go for long distances instead of in circles, duck into inlets to skate among trees, glide over places where you see beaver swimming in the summer,” says Mr. Simon.

Feb.10 2013

Toronto Star article, by Marco Chown Oved


Feb.3, 2013, photo by Alec Farquhar

“As far as we’re aware, there is nothing we’ve ever enforced, nor is it enforceable,” said police spokesperson Const. Wendy Drummond.

The police Marine Unit recently purchased an ice boat that skims across the surface like a hovercraft. In their new boat, police patrol the ice around the islands, discouraging people from skating, Davey said.

This has led to some stand-offs between residents, who won’t give up the long-held tradition, and police, who see it as unsafe.

“Once, they even tried to make us wear life jackets,” Davey said.

Each freeze-up would bring another confrontation until several years ago, when local MP Olivia Chow tromped out onto the ice to mediate.

 

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