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Toronto Island Park Profile

This page will no longer be updated because of the risk in skating over water. From an island resident, Feb.7, 2023: Overall we had magnificent skating for a couple of days when the temperatures plummeted, but even then the harbour and the areas of the lagoons abutting the harbour were not safe. Overall this may be the winter with the least harbour ice ever. The changes due to CO2 are unrelenting and bring these types of hazards.

Features: See articles below

Opening and closing dates:

Depends on the weather: see a video of figure-skating at the island from Blog TO

If you skate on ice above water, take along ice picks. Here's a good video of how an ice pick can help if you break through the ice, and what to do.

From an island resident: If you havenít skated on the Island before, please be aware that conditions change every day and through the day. You need to check with people who know the conditions and not skate alone. And get hold of some ice picks to ensure you can get out of the water if you fall through. Itís a thrilling thing to skate on natural ice. But there are currents, the warmth of the sun, and the moderating temperatures, all of which can make conditions more challenging. So be careful and bring your safety gear, and try to ensure that you understand the conditions and skate with people who are experienced out here.


Skating at Toronto Island at sunset, February 2021. Photo: Bella Beazer

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


Rink Diary

2022 -2023

Feb.6, 2023

From an island resident:This CBC report emphasizes the dangers of skating on the Island.

This is why people who skate out here monitor the conditions carefully and take many precautions and carry safety gear.

With the current mild temperatures, we can assume that unsafe conditions will emerge all over the place out here. Ice that was good a few days ago can thin out very quickly. So itís a very hazardous time to think about skating.

Feb.3, 2023

Feb.3, 2023

From an island resident: Ice conditions are overall quite special on the Island. Some of us made our way from the Algonquin lagoon by the firehall all the way down the lagoons, up Long Pond, and some even made it to Blockhouse Bay and beyond (I turned back before Blockhouse Bay). The wind was ferocious and the whole skate was quite challenging. But we did get to enjoy ice such as the beautiful black ice by the Farm, just past the Church, which is in the attached video.

Saturday should be a good skating day, but please exercise caution in spite of the cold temperatures last night, today and tonight. Basically there is a lot of new ice, some of which froze Sunday night but some of which only froze Thursday night. And surprisingly, there was still some open water Ė under the Centre Island bridge; along Long Pond just past the cut to the Marina. Maybe other places Iím not aware of. This means that if you skate on Saturday, there will be some really new ice which would be dangerous to skate on. Absolutely donít try to skate under the Centre Island bridge Saturday. The ice that might form there will be just one day old.

Hereís the cautious approach that we used to skate along the lagoon today:

- We had a drill to check thickness and used it often. This helped a lot because it was impossible to accurately gauge the thickness by sight alone
- We checked the ice under the Snake Island bridge and skated under the bridge. But donít assume from that this will be safe on Saturday. You need to check conditions every day.
- The ice along towards the RCYC bridge was just too thin so we went overland around that bridge
- We also went overland well before the Centre Island bridge. That was an easy decision because there was open water under the bridge.
- Toward Blockhouse Bay, those who went that way got off the ice and went along the dock on the north side of Long Pond to get onto the ice at Blockhouse Bay.

So overall you can see that in spite of the cold temperatures, skating on natural ice during a time of climate change is never straightforward. So if you come out skating on Saturday, donít skate alone and make sure you have safety gear. If you donít know the conditions, skate with people who do.

Remember that the ferry will not be running from the 9 am boat to the 330 boat Saturday. The last boat to the Island will be 9 am, and no boat after that until the 330 boat. Access to the Island will be via the airport by bus. You need to go through the tunnel to the airport and then to wherever the bus is leaving from. There is a significant chance that the bus driver will ask that you prove that you are an Island resident or visiting an Island resident, to be allowed to ride the bus. People will probably be skating out here all day at various places so you could think about coming on the 8:30 or 9 am boat or later in the day on the 330 or 4 pm boat. The sun doesnít set until 530 pm.

Feb.2, 2023

From an island resident: I havenít been sending many ice reports this winter due to the poor and often unsafe conditions.

Things are looking very good for the next few days as we get winter temperatures before things warm up again next week.

Last week, almost all the ice on the lagoons and much of the ice on Long Pond melted. Even the leftover old ice, which had been pretty reliably thick enough to skate on, started to thin out. It was generally very unsafe. But then starting Sunday night, new ice formed and has been thickening ever since. Some of the new ice is four days old, some three days, some even newer, so weíve been doing a lot of drilling and checking thickness, but have felt confident skating on the main area of new ice on Long Pond as you can see. But even there, there are significant patches of open water past the cut to the Marina towards Blockhouse Bay, and thinner ice generally as you go up Long Pond.

Along the lagoons, generally speaking the new ice is a bit thinner and newer, for example along Snake Island and near the Church and especially from the Church to the Centre Bridge. Which is why weíve been skating on Long Pond.

Tonight will be very cold, which should thicken the newer ice quite significantly. And tomorrow daytime and nighttime will be very cold as well. So unless we get a dump of snow, Friday and Saturday will be very good. There is talk of setting up a sauna and fire in Sunset Cut on Saturday. That is the cut leading from the Algonquin Island lagoon out to the harbour.

Quite possibly we will be able to skate from the Algonquin lagoon all the way to Long Pond on Friday/Saturday, but with caution under the bridges. Maybe we will have to go around some or all of the bridges. Ice under them was still quite thin today.

As usual, wear your safety gear, especially ice picks. Donít skate alone. And especially donít assume that because some ice is thick enough, the ice nearby is also thick enough. That is the single biggest contributor to getting into trouble. If you havenít skated out here before, make sure to go with others who know the conditions and can help keep you safe while you enjoy the wonders that Mother Earth is still giving us even with all the damage we are doing to her.

Some good news Ė the Riviera Cafť at the Rectory Building near the Algonquin Bridge will be open from 11 am Ė 6 pm from Friday to Sunday.

Jan.27, 2023

From an island resident: Unfortunately, mild weather has again melted a lot of the ice that we have enjoyed for two brief periods this winter. The old ice thatís left has a crusty snow cover which prevents you from seeing any thin spots which may be underneath. And that old ice has thinned out significantly overall. There is open water on the western half of Long Pond, around the Church and Farm, on parts of the lagoon as well. So there is basically not any good skating and the ice that does exist is unsafe.

It will get colder next week, including a stretch of days where daytime temperature is zero or below and night temperatures will be as low as -12. So there is some hope for late next week/next week-end.

Weíll keep checking conditions but for now donít think about skating out here.

Jan.17, 2023

From an island resident: Iíve had several emails asking about Island ice conditions. I havenít been sending ice reports because most of it had melted and it didnít get cold enough to produce extensive stretches of good ice. There has been a bit of skating but in a small niche where a bit of ice was left over from December Ė knobbly and surrounded by unsafe black ice.

Weíre heading into another moderating temperature phase and Iíll send an ice report if enough cold weather returns to make it possible to skate out here.

Dec.25, 2022

Dec.25, 2022

From an island resident:Three of us went out for an exploratory skate at 10 am today.

We had planned to try to go along the lagoon from the firehall but conditions were too sketchy. It must not have gotten quite cold enough last night, because there was still open water where we had thought it would have frozen. For example towards the bridge to the RCYC.

We went down to the Church instead. There was nice ice there but the need to be cautious. Some was solid but other ice was newer and barely thick enough. CJ did a lot of drilling to test thickness so we had a good idea where we could skate. This allowed us to go onto some good black ice. It was just too thin towards the Centre Bridge, so we went overland, including on hands and knees across the road coming off the Centre Bridge.

The ice on Long Pond was not the best. Quite a bit of rough ice that had frozen while the the wind was blowing hard. But some other older ice which was pretty good. Again, significant thinner spots, which meant that we didnít go any further down than the second cut that goes toward the new school. We went along that cut and then back out onto Long Pond.

So overall itís a challenging situation. We all had ice picks and did lots of testing, but even with that we had to use our judgement on a number of occasions. We erred on the side of caution.

It will be -6 tonight, which should mean that the ice will thicken up a bit. And below zero during the day tomorrow. So I think weíll go out at 1 pm tomorrow (Monday). Probably from the Church.†

One more thing Ė due to the high winds, there is a lot of sand on the ice. Weíre seriously considering bringing brooms Ö

Dec.24, 2022

From an island resident:We scouted the ice early this afternoon. Itís been such a powerful weather system that the impact has been complex.

There was pre-existing 2 to 3 inch ice by the new school, which a few of us skated on earlier this week, which has mostly become sort of knobbly. Presumably it got wet and then the snow melted into the water on top of that ice while a fierce wind was blowing. There is some similar knobbly ice in the area from the Church towards the Snake Island Bridge.

Then there is nice one day old black ice here and there, especially in the area between the Church and the Farm. We can project that it might be 3 inches thick by tomorrow (Sunday). But even in that area, it appeared that there was thinner ice, so a need to be very cautious and understand the conditions.

There is also some black ice in the cut that goes toward the new school from Long Pond, with similar issues.†

There is still open water under the Centre Bridge and at various points along the lagoon. And significant amounts of sand have blown onto the ice here and there.

 

 

Rink diaries from previous years

2021 - 2022

March 29, 2022

March 29, 2022, Long Pond

From an island resident: This is the last ice report for 2021/22. Itís been pretty great at times and also such great attention to safety.

The last ice on Long Pond is still thick enough here and there to stand on (close to shore where the water is shallow).

Thank you to everyone who made it a special winter, where getting out skating was a safe way to connect with others during the pandemic.

Also thank you to people who have donated to our safety fund. We used the contributions to buy some sets of ice picks, most of which have been distributed. There is money left over which is letting us commission a couple more ice safety signs, which weíre hoping to be able to put up on the Centre Bridge. If you would like to contribute to next yearís efforts, just send me an etransfer. I already have enough money to buy more ice picks, so would love to be able to buy even more of them.

Feb.11, 2022

From an island resident: "I havenít sent an ice report for a couple of weeks because there wasnít much ice out on the Island. There was lots of good skiing however.

Basically the lagoon ice is covered by snow is some form, other than a small rink by the Firehall and an area of flooded ice in Sunfish Cut (which is at the western end of Algonquin Island).

Then there is the harbour, which has changed almost every day. Most recently the ice shifted dramatically over the past couple of days. The photo gives you an idea how that is playing out. The ice surface can change in literally a couple of hours and how clearly dangerous it is to be out there.

So there isnít any good skating right now.

Also there was so much ice in the Wardís dock that the ferry boat was damaged and had to be taken out of service. Which means that for the time being the only way to get onto the Island is via a bus going across the airport runways, with only enough space for Island residents and Parks workers.

So perhaps thatís it for the ice season of 2021/22.

But weíre grateful for the wonderful conditions that extended over a number of weeks and gave us so much pleasure in the midst of this pandemic.

Feb.10, 2022

Feb.10: ice floes in the harbour

From an island resident: Here's a photo from the Ward's dock. The broken up ice is drifting from west to east. Yesterday the eastern end of the harbour was open water, now it's full of ice floes. So of course going out on the harbour is very dangerous.

The lagoon ice is covered with wet or crusty snow.

So there is basically no skating right now and maybe this is it for the season.

Jan.22, 2022

From an island resident: Another day of complex conditions for skating.

When youíve had lovely black ice for a number of days, itís hard to get used to anything less, but it can still be enjoyable. Lots of people were out today.

We skated from Snake Island down to the Centre Bridge and it was quite good. Especially by the Church and Farm. Even with the cold weather, caution was needed under the Centre Bridge. Still another example of the importance of safety gear and caution even when itís been cold for a while.

Long Pond was mostly crusty ice, with skateable but not particularly good ice along the northern shore up to Blockhouse Bay.

We had quite a lesson in harbour ice conditions this morning. There was new ice in the Cove in the eastern harbour. But literally within a few minutes, wind and waves went to work resulting in a big area of open water and the breakup of most of the new ice Ö still another lesson in how changeable conditions can be out there.

People have been skating on the harbour off Algonquin Island. The ice isnít very nice. Further out the conditions are impossible to predict Ė the ferry is regularly maintaining a channel and the fireboat is going to Hanlanís and the RCYC. So the conditions can change in the space of a few minutes and can be very hazardous. The attached video is from a location where we were very confident and had scouted the conditions carefully. We all had safety gear and were skating as a group.

There are nice rinks on the Algonquin lagoon, one usually for shinny and a couple of smaller ones which are good for kids.

Jan.21, 2022

From an island resident: I feel so fortunate to have had a real stretch of winter weather Ė cold, black ice for 10 days, a big snowfall, lots more cold. This used to be what winters were like.

For natural ice skating it brings another level of complexity, as snow covers the ice and reduces our ability to understand the conditions.

The way things have evolved out on the Island is quite interesting. I had assumed that the snowfall would cover all of the lagoon and put an end to skating. But instead, the brief warm up has resulted in some pretty good ice from Snake Island to Centre Bridge. So if you start from Snake, you will find decent conditions (not perfect black ice) up past the RCYC, around by the Church and Farm and up to Centre Bridge. Itís been very cold day and night, but you still need to be careful because there are currents under the ice, etc. Always be especially aware under the bridges, most hazardous being the Centre bridge. Donít stop wearing your safety gear. DONíT SKATE ALONE.

There are several rinks cleared on the lagoon by Algonquin Island. Usually one of them is for a shinny game but that leaves another rink or two for kids and pleasure skaters.


Skating in the harbour. Photo: Kathleen Doody

On Long Pond, there is not very good but skateable ice along the north shore so you could make your way up towards Blockhouse Bay. Itís much different from the excellent conditions last week-end.

People have been skating on the harbour and this is a whole other level of risk. There are a lot of factors affecting the harbour. Itís a big sheet of ice and there are various boats regularly cutting across it in unpredictable ways. Ice that was safe in the morning might be very dangerous in the afternoon. Or wind and currents might literally break off a whole stretch of ice and destabilize the rest. There have been times when half the harbour ice has blown away in a few hours. Also, the ice out there now isnít very good Ė mostly rough, crusty, with patches or stretches of smoother ice.

This is a sort of ďice highwayĒ created by the police swampboat going through wet snow a couple of days ago.


Ice Highway. Photo: Chris Jackson

Ice Highway. Photo: Chris Jackson
 
Jan.15, 2022

From an island resident: We scouted the ice this morning all the way down the lagoon starting from Wardís by the firehall. Including lots of drilling to test thickness.

I know that Iím always emphasizing safety, but especially when itís so cold your guard is down, you assume that all the ice is safe and unfortunately thatís not true. There are currents under the ice, there is the effect of the sun etc. Weíve raised some money to buy ice picks so I will have a few extras with me today.

The lagoon running along Algonquin Island has some nice ice. There is a shinny game going on.

We skated with care onto Blockhouse Bay. This is where conditions will be particularly unpredictable. The fireboat has been breaking up the ice and may do so again today. This means that you need to check carefully. But there is also nice black ice up there and along towards the filtration plant. You really need to check things out and be careful. Ice is thin near the entrance to the turtle pond. There are little pools of open water where the fireboat has gone through. And there is thin ice and open water by the trout pond.

And itís cold! With a breeze. Itís likely that you could warm up in the washrooms over by Long Pond, they seem to be open. So what Iím thinking of doing is around 1.30 or so, leaving from Snake Island. Iíll have a backpack and carry my boots with me. That way, I can take off my skates at Long Pond later on and warm up in the washrooms and then go back to skating Ö


Daniel and Sophia

Sunday will be warmer during the day but still below zero. There will have been another cold night, so the ice will have thickened up.

Sunday night it will snow. For those of you who havenít skated out here after a major snowfall, it brings all kinds of unpredictability. The problem is that you never really know the state of the ice under the snow. Also, the snow acts as an insulator, which allows the ice underneath to melt. But sometimes the wind blows the snow off the ice. So weíll see how all of this develops.

Something very special happened on the ice this morning. While we were scouting the conditions, down near the dock at the Island school, I had the privilege of meeting Daniel and Sophia. It was their first time skating on the Island. They are ice/arctic researchers. And it was a special day for another reason Ė Daniel proposed and Sophia accepted! So join me in congratulating them, with hopes that we will see them out on the ice again.

Jan.11, 2022

Jan.11: frost flowers on Long Pond. Photo: Elena

From an island resident: Four of us went down to Long Pond mid-morning. Along the lagoon, almost all the open water from yesterday has frozen, but is generally hazardous. For example, around the Farm, under the Centre Bridge. On Long Pond itself there is also one day old ice where there were open patches yesterday. Fortunately we could detect the new ice through the light snow covering, but the snow has continued and that might be more challenging later today or tomorrow. It appeared that the patches further up Long Pond had thinner ice Ė it was easy to break through. So you really need to take care on Long Pond. Itís mostly around 6 inches thick but there are these thin areas Ö. Wear your ice picks and donít go out alone.

On the other hand, there were lovely frost flowers on the new ice. These develop when mist floats from open water over the newly forming ice.

Jan.10, 2022

From an island resident: Caution: there was still a surprising amount of open water on the lagoons. Especially Sunfish Cut (the west end of Algonquin Island towards the harbour), by the Farm and Church and under bridges. This means that if you go out today, even though it was very cold last night, there will be a lot of ice with just one night of freezing. So donít go on that ice. It may very well thicken in the days to come, given the forecast. So Long Pond is still the most advisable place to skate.


skating toward Centre Bridge. Photo: Alex Farquar

Overall, the mild weather on Sunday didnít harm the ice on Long Pond too much. We started out from the dock by the School. There are a few small crusty patches where the water on the ice from Sunday froze that way. There were some not insignificant patches of open water on Long Pond itself, so as with the lagoons these patches will likely have frozen overnight but will be very new ice. So really take care to understand what you are dealing with. Donít skate on them inadvertently. Lots of open water under Centre Bridge Ė again, this may have frozen overnight but will be unsafe. %block

Monday afternoon was very windy and the wind chill got more significant as the afternoon wore on. We did a lot of skating into the wind and then letting the wind blow us back. It was so strong that you could become a human sail boat, tacking diagonally down Long Pond towards Centre Bridge. But it was quite a thrilling time together and enhanced by the ice boat going past at high speed.

Jan.8, 2022

Jan.8: long pond towards centre bridge. Photo: Alan Farquhar

From an island resident: This was a very special day. A lot of people came down to Long Pond to enjoy a beautiful sunny day. In the midst of the Omicron surge, we had a safe, distanced afternoon and a sense of liberation from all the pressures of these times.

People were careful about avoiding new thin ice and kept to the safer areas. The ice had thickened up due to a cold Friday night. There was very new thin ice towards the Centre Bridge and towards Blockhouse Bay, as well as the cut towards the harbour from Long Pond. And there are all kinds of areas with new thin ice or even open water on the lagoon from Wardís to the Centre bridge. So are dealing with the realities of a winter in the midst of climate change. There were a number of people giving good advice on where it was safe to skate and what to avoid.

Tonight it will get milder, maybe even with wet snow or rain into Sunday morning. So the conditions likely wonít be very good on Sunday. Then it gets cold again, starting with Sunday night and with very low temperatures Monday night. So unless the precipitation ruins the ice surface, we could have skating again on Monday and certainly on Tuesday. Iíll check things out Sunday afternoon and send an ice report Sunday evening. We might have a sunrise skate on Monday if conditions are favourable.

The 7 day forecast is for snow late in the week, so itís hard to know what next week-end will be like.

Thank you again to all those who have contributed money for ice picks and additional skating caution signs. This is important because many people are now coming from the City to skate for the first time, having heard about it on social media. Often they arenít aware of the hazards of skating on natural ice, especially with the type of temperature swings which now seem to be a feature of climate change winter. I think that I might have enough money to order another 10 picks, which will make 20 in all. What Iíve been doing up to now is giving picks myself to people who donít have them. Maybe I could give a few picks to regular Island skaters so that they can do the same with new skaters whom they encounter out here. Today I spoke with four people from the City who were getting ready to skate by the Island farm, which would have been a dangerous decision given that it was open water there yesterday.

If youíre posting to social media, make sure to include safety information. Itís exciting to skate on natural ice but there are risks which people need to be aware of.

Jan.7, 2022

sunrise skate, Jan,7. Photo: Kathleen Doody

From an island resident: So today we skated at sunrise and late afternoon from the dock near the Island school, near Long Pond. I would say that the ice surface was close to the best Iíve ever experienced out here Ė all black ice, much of it very smooth. You could see the bottom in many locations. It was quite frigid with a wind chill. The wind was strong enough to push you all the way down Long Pond, which is always such a special experience.

Probably over 20 people were skating there late afternoon. We shared a pretty special experience, including some wonderful figure skaters doing beautiful things out there.

Someone saw a lone coyote early this morning and I saw a big hawk, maybe a redtail.

Jan.6, 2022

Jan.6, 2022: first skate on Long Pond. Photo: Alec Farquar

From an island resident: Today, after some mild weather, there was lots of open water down the lagoon towards Long Pond. Open water including most of the lagoon along Snake Island toward the RCYC Bridge; and by the Island Church and Farm before the Centre Bridge. But there was ice by the Island School, so a group of us (with safety gear and taking care to avoid open spots) had a nice skate around sunset today.

Weíll go for a sunrise skate around 7:45 Friday from the Island School dock; and also later in the afternoon, around 3:30 or 4 pm, same location. Although the ice will be thicker, there will still be hazards, so please take care and carry your safety gear.

Saturday is looking good, but probably advisable not to try skating down. The ice on the lagoons will be maximum 2 nights freezing in half of the length of the lagoons. So come down to Long Pond on your bike or walking.

Iím raising money for two purposes:

  • To buy ice picks to give out to people who donít have them Ė remember that there were some inexperienced people out here last winter and some went through the ice
  • To pay for more warning signs, ideally to post on additional locations along the lagoon or Centre Bridge

So please e-transfer to me and whatever I receive, I will spend for these two purposes.

Thanks a lot and hope to see some of you soon.

And Ö bring your N95 mask so you can put it on if youíre close to others talking for longer than a couple of minutes! Omicron is really infectious even outside where people are close to each other.

 

Rink diaries from previous years

2020 - 2021

Feb.17, 2021

From an island resident: This may be the last ice report of the season. Most of the ice on the Island is already snow covered. And more snow is coming. And then the temperatures will start to rise.

So essentially the only skating would be cleared rinks.

There are also new hazards, because snow insulates the ice and you can get melt underneath. This means that you could be walking, skiing or skating through snow and not realize that there is a thin patch under the snow.

But itís been a wonderful skating season and the skiing is great!

Feb.15, 2021

From Suhan Li: "I would like to know whether the ice conditions are favorable for skating today - I didn't see an update on the blog today or yesterday. Also would love to know which ferry has the best access to the skating areas as the information available online is limited."

Response from cityrinks: "We post occasionally, not every day, and just whatever people send us. In terms of the best ferry access -- Alec doesn't write about that, since he lives on the island. So you'll have to explore that yourself, go over on the ferry and look for skaters and talk to them. An adventure."

Response from Suhan Li: "Ended up going today and it was great. Turns out only the Ward Island ferry is running in the winter. We took a short walk to the lagoon between Algonquin and Snake island and had to walk maybe 50-100m through choppy ice to get to the smooth portions. From there on out maybe only a quarter of the ice had snow dusted on top. We saw ~50 people out on the ice as far as 1km out into the harbour. Ice thickness looked good on the exposed parts with only a couple of suspiciously clear but frozen cracks."

Feb.13, 2021

From an island resident:


the ice near Snake Island

There were a lot of people skating on the harbour today even in the cold, windy conditions. The wind has swept most of the snow off the ice. Some people skated out to the harbour through Sunfish Cut; others walked across Snake Island and put their skates on there, where the distance to good ice is much shorter.

This is a reminder that even more than on the lagoons, conditions on the harbour are very changeable. Currents move under the ice. There are still big areas of open water on the harbour. Wind and waves can break off big plates of ice. And the ferry boat and fire boat regularly cut through the ice. So this means that awareness of the conditions, skating with a group and carrying safety gear are very important.

A big thank you to all those who contributed to the cost of the warning signs posted on the Snake Island bridge Ė weíve raised $200, which will cover the full cost.

 
Feb.11, 2021


From an island resident: the people who skate often on the Island are very safety conscious. We love to skate on natural ice but weíve had a lot of experience with the changeable conditions out here. So we try to be sure that weíre aware of the potential risks. We also carry safety gear and skate in a group so that if something does happen, we can take care of each other.

Generally speaking, even when most of the ice is quite thick, as it is now, it is usually much more thin under the bridges and in a number of locations where there are strong currents flowing.

These past few weeks weíve had a unique combination of excellent skating conditions and a desire by many people to get out of their homes into nature. So a lot of people have been coming to the Island to skate. Some of them donít understand the conditions very well. A couple of week-ends ago, two people went through the ice under the Centre Bridge. They were quickly rescued, but it could have ended very badly.

So an anonymous person has created some signage (attached) to warn people about the bridges and Centre Bridge in particular.

The signs cost around $200 and Iím hoping that some of you will be able to contribute to cover the costs. If you e-transfer me the money, Iíll send it along to the sign maker.

Feb.10, 2021

From an island resident: There was a bit of new snow over most of the ice today. A couple of us skated today on Long Pond through the snow. Lots of animal tracks, including big coyote prints and some smaller ones that could be fox or perhaps racoon or muskrat.

Unless it snows tonight, probably some of the snow will be cleared off by wind and sun by tomorrow. There are big rinks cleared by the Island Church and Farm.

Even a bit of snow on the ice brings significant risks. Basically, you canít see what is under that snow. You need to have a tool to check thickness. Youíre taking a risk and need safety gear even more than usual, and of course donít skate alone.

The potentially dangerous areas Iím aware of are under the bridges, most significantly Centre Bridge; the bend around the Farm; the bend around towards the Lighthouse on Blockhouse Bay and Blockhouse Bay towards the Hanlanís dock. There are also patches of thin ice or open water around various docks, especially on Blockhouse Bay.

Feb.6, 2021

From an island resident: This morning I scouted out the ice along the lagoon up to Long Pond. I was surprised to find thin ice/open water under all three bridges Ė Snake, RCYC and Centre. Under Centre Bridge there is a lot of open water. I thought that maybe it would get cold enough last night to start some new ice there.

There is also open water around the bend by the Farm, where the ice is often thin.

This means that areas where the ice is usually thinner due to currents might have gotten thinner over the past couple of days, due to milder temperatures.

Having said that, I think that if youíre willing to go around the bridges, which isnít very hard, you could make it up the lagoon from the Firehall to Long Pond. If anyone wants to do that in a group, Iíll be leaving from the Firehall at 1 pm today.

Snow is forecast tonight so weíll see how things develop. If the wind keeps blowing, it might blow snow off a lot of the ice.

Feb.3,2021

Photo: Alec Farquhar

Photo: Mark McLean
 

From an island resident: That was a very special day (after several previous ones). Black ice all over the place but especially Blockhouse Bay. There are still some hazardous areas (near some docks, bubblers, under bridges). So you need to be aware of conditions as usual and bring safety gear. Donít skate alone!

It will be milder next couple of days, then getting cold again. So we will have to go day by day and see how it turns out.

Jan.30,2021

From an island resident: This was a very special day of skating on the Island. I was out three times myself, starting with a sunrise skate where we measured the thickness of the ice. This identified that the ice under the Centre Island bridge was not safe Ė and indeed this afternoon two people fell through the ice there. They were rescued by some people who had been playing shinny nearby. This highlights the need to be aware of the conditions and carry safety gear. Every one of these incidents has the potential to end very badly.

As the day went on, we saw the impact of the late January sun. It definitely affected the ice, including under the RCYC and Snake Island bridges as examples.

Having said that, a lot of people from the Island and the City enjoyed a spectacular day of sun, skating and community. It was possible, with caution around bridges, to skate down from the Firehall to Long Pond. There was beautiful black ice around Snake and from the Church to the Centre Bridge. There was black ice at the end of Long Pond which had been too thin yesterday but where people skated today.

Caution is needed as temperatures rise. Itís only going down to -8 tonight versus minus double digits for the three previous nights. The sun gets stronger every day.

Some of us are going for a sunrise skate Sunday, leaving from the Wardís dock when the 730 from the city arrives. Our thinking is that the ice will be most solid then versus later in the day.

Jan.12, 2021

From an island resident: We had surprisingly good ice by the Firehall early this morning. It is getting just cold enough at night, and staying cold enough during the day, for ice to build up slowly. Weíre also fortunate that there has been so little snow, which means that you can see the ice and evaluate it better. There is some thicker, older ice near the Firehall, with newer, thinner black ice east and west of there. As it gets milder during the day, the newer ice will be less and less safe.

Some people are going for a sunset skate today either on Long Pond (if conditions permit) or by the new school where weíve been skating for a few days now.

Tonight is supposed to get a little bit cold, so we decided to go to Long Pond for a sunrise skate on Wednesday. After that, it will get milder for a week, before temperatures go down again and likely we will get thicker ice for next week-end.

The conditions remain challenging. Lots of places which would usually have thicker ice have very thin, unsafe ice. So you should be with a group, have safety gear and check out the conditions carefully.

Jan.9, 2021

near the new school

From an island resident: We had a nice day of skating down by the new school. Itís been just cold enough day and night for the ice there to thicken sufficiently. There is a skin of ice on Long Pond but too thin overall.

Overall, there is way more open water and thin ice than there would normally be this time of year.

Some people tested the conditions behind Doughnut Island, in hopes of getting a close look at the 100 year old water pipe that has floated to the surface of Long Pond. Apparently several people went through the ice there although no harm done. We have our safety gear and know what weíre doing, but you can see the hazards of this mild winter.

The forecast is -7 for tonight. This is not bitter cold but it is cold enough to thicken the ice a bit. The forecast high on Sunday is 1 degree, so conditions should be similar or a bit better than today. We all need to take care, test ice thickness and carry safety gear. Donít skate alone.

Jan.8, 2021

From an island resident: It has gotten just cold enough to create some good skating opportunities on the Island. You really need to understand the conditions. Many of the areas where we usually skate were open water yesterday (for example virtually all of Long Pond and many stretches of the lagoon from there to Wardís). But there is skateable ice near the new school; on part of the RCYC lagoon east of the Church; and near the firehall at Wardís.

A group of us skated by the new school late afternoon and sunset. It was enjoyable and we tested thickness quite carefully to figure out where we were safe. Weíll be going back there tomorrow, late morning. If youíre coming from the City, youíre going to be much better off if you come on your bike, because the new school is several kilometres from the Wardís Island dock, which is the only place that the ferry boats are going these days.

Jan.1, 2021

From an island resident: Surprisingly, although overall conditions are perhaps the worst ever, it stayed just cold enough for skating in small pockets of the lagoons Ö


the lagoon beside the RCYC

People skated on the lagoon between Centreville and Olympic Island where weíve been a few times in the past couple of weeks; also on a nice stretch of smooth ice on the lagoon beside the RCYC (thatís the photo). You really have to be careful and aware of the conditions Ė thereís thin ice and open water all over the place. Chris Jackson and I tried to get from the nature sanctuary to Doughnut Island but the ice was just too sketchy as we got closer to Doughnut. Our intention was to get a better look at the 100 year old water pipe that has mysteriously floated up from the bottom of Long Pond right across from Doughnut. You can see it from a distance from the Centre Island bridge. Itís huge and you just scratch your head wondering how it could have floated up and be sticking out of the water. However, we got to stop and feed the chickadees at the nature sanctuary (see the photo of Chris feeding one of them).

Iím really hoping that we get enough cold weather to give us more reliable conditions where we could go out as a group. Unfortunately doesnít look too promising for the next while.

In the meantime, Iím including a link from Daniel Rotsztain of a beautiful lake out West which has a 30 km. skating path!

Dec.30, 2020

Ice sculpture near Centreville

From an island resident: Such a mild winter so far. But it got just cold enough last night to firm up the ice by Centreville. As far as I know, that was the only skateable ice on the Island (and we certainly looked in a lot of places). Iíve never seen so much open water this time of year all along the lagoons and on Long Pond.

Dec.28, 2020

From an island resident: Not much ice out there today but then this wonderful video arrived from Daniel Rotsztain, longtime friend who has spent many enjoyable times out on the ice. Also sometimes known as the Urban Geographer. The music is by Bobby Gadda. Thank you Daniel and Bobby!

All footage from Toronto Island 2014-2020: video by Daniel Rotsztain

Dec.27, 2020

From an island resident: I rode my bike down the lagoon to Long Pond today. Open water just about everywhere. Came home quite discouraged and then heard that a stretch of ice had been found between Centreville and Olympic Island. It turned out to be quite nice and a lot of people went down there. Over even a few hours, conditions deteriorated Ė someone went through the ice as a result. We had our safety gear and it turned out fine, but shows how sketchy conditions can become. Tomorrow will be quite mild so deterioration will continue. But hopefully this ice will harden up again when colder weather returns.

Tyler Ganton used his chainsaw to make an ice sculpture.


chainsaw ice sculpture

Dec.27: a stretch between Centreville and Olympic Island

And thank you Chris Jackson for a photo.

Itís been the mildest stretch of winter weather that I can ever remember and we can only hope to get at least a few days of true winter weather at some point.


2019 - 2020

Feb.29, 2020, from A.F.

[high: minus 4C] Three of us skated today on Long Pond. There's a thin layer of snow over quite knobbly ice. As you go along towards the cut leading to the Marina, the ice quality deteriorates and it becomes quite crusty. I would guess that sun and milder temperatures will lead to further deterioration. Perhaps that was our last skate of this season. In spite of the ice quality, it was still so nice to be out on a brilliant sunny day with the wind blowing.

There is one day old black ice towards the Centre Island bridge and then along the Farm. I doubt that it will get cold enough tonight to make it safe. But it was just beautiful to see the snow being driven across it by the wind.

Feb.28,2020, from A.F.

[low: minus 11C] There is significant open water along the lagoons. But Long Pond is completely clear of snow and looks surprisingly good.


Long Pond, Feb.22, 2020. Photo: Brendan Carberry

closer
 
Feb.20, 2020, from A.F.

We had a pretty special time on Long Pond this afternoon. Skated all the way to the lagoon by the Filtration Plant. You need to pay attention to the conditions Ė there is thin new ice at various places along the way. There are a few crusty thin spots here and there. The main thing is to check the ice as it actually is versus assuming what it should be. Bring your ice picks and donít go skating alone.

Friday morning might be the last good skating time this year.

Feb.19, 2020, afternoon, from A.F.

Four of us had a very nice skate late this afternoon. There is a lot more smooth ice than Monday and no crusty ice.

The wind was blowing hard out of the northwest and we got the chance to be blown down Long Pond.

HOWEVER, we got quite a lesson in caution today Ė on the south side of Long Pond from Doughnut Island down towards Forestry Island, there were some dangerously thin areas, especially some of the gas pockets. We had gotten very used to the general thickness of the ice and then suddenly we were on thin ice.

There is new, very thin black ice on the cut to the Marina and around the bend at Blockhouse Bay. It wonít be thick enough to skate on Thursday.

So we need to be really careful and not assume that the ice is safe because the nearby ice is safe. We have a strange combination of spring thaw and cold weather.

Bring your safety gear and donít take conditions for granted.

Feb.19, 2020, from A.F., morning

Long Pond this morning. Overall, it appears that basically there is very little snow left on the ice; and that where the ice has survived itís smoother and probably better to skate on. There doesnít seem to be as much crusty stuff as there was on Monday. There are big areas of very thin ice and open water, especially Sunfish Cut, along Snake Island and around the Farm. I would expect that the areas of open water along Long Pond are larger than Monday. But the ice on Long Pond looks pretty nice from land. It will stay below freezing today with a lot of wind, so even a few flurries arenít likely to cause problems. It could be quite good but given the hazards, I certainly wouldnít want to skate alone. Bring your safety gear!


Feb.17, 2020, photo by A.Farquhar
Feb.17, 2020, from an island resident

Five of us skated up Long Pond to Blockhouse Bay. Much of Long Pond has been cleared of snow. There are stretches of pretty nice skating, but also lots of crusty patches and bumpy ice. The black ice areas at the cut to the Marina and around the bend as Blockhouse goes toward the filtration plant, are significantly melted and the ice that remains is very thin and unsafe.

It was still a glorious day and nice to be down there.

At various points along the lagoons, the black ice situation is similar Ė thinner, with more open water.

It appears from the forecast that we might conceivably have another melt and then low temperatures later in the week, so we will have to see how it all develops.

Jan.21, 2020

Jan.21, 2020: thin ice near Trout Lake

The photo (right) epitomizes the difficult skating conditions this winter Ė often we would have the beginning of beautiful black ice and it never got cold enough to make it safe to skate on. Weíve still enjoyed every chance we could get.


Dec.21, 2019
Dec.21, 2019, from an island resident

Weíve had some nice unexpected skating on the Island past few days.† Even today was pretty good on Long Pond (not on the lagoons though).Maybe there will be skating Sunday morning but beyond that who knows.† Probably not much until the temperature goes down in January.

 

Rink diaries from previous years

2018 - 2019

Jan.19, 2018

From R.Sanger: They really know what theyíre doing on the island and they just ignore whatever city rules there might be. Though the city doesnít always ignore them ó e.g.. they send the fireboat in to break up the ice, and when the harbour freezes they break up the ice just off the Harbourfront piers so people wonít try to walk or skate directly across.

Richard's example of smart natural ice skating at Toronto Island, from a skater's blog:

Thereís about an inch of snow on the ice along the lagoon but much has already been swept off Long Pond by the wind. The ice all over Long Pond is 4 inches plus. However, it looks like perhaps the fireboat has come into Blockhouse Bay and broken up the ice quite a ways in from the Hanlan's dock. So not safe to venture over that way.

People were shovelling some paths on Long Pond. This allowed us to make sure we were avoiding swamp gas bubbles.

We had a really nice look at a bald eagle. There were lots of coyote tracks.

It was a mild day and there were still spots along the lagoon and on Long Pond, tending to be along shore, with water and/or sketchy ice. Now with snow covering the lagoon, it will be harder to detect these areas, so not advisable to skate down the lagoon. There are still currents working away under the ice and conditions may not be what they seem.

Don't go down alone, make sure you go as a group.

Jan.13, 2019

From R.Sanger: On Sunday, two of us had an amazing skate with an islander on the lagoons and backchannels between the islands, going all the way from the Firehall to Lighthouse near Hanlanís Point on the canals and skating fast under the bridges (except for the Centre island Bridge which you have to climb and crawl around)Ö It was so much fun to skate with the islander who happily took on the role I usually play of Chief Reassurer and Handholder: ďOh yeah, itís thick enoughÖĒ And it was.

 

2017- 2018

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






 
Jan.1, 2018

Toronto Island. Photo: Rick Simon

From an island resident: 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 an island resident: 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 Wardsí foremost ice condition authorities, on their way back from a pre-snow skate, so we were well advised by the masters ó 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 ó and using their ďsonarĒ to determine the thickness ó tapping the ice with the butt-end of a hockey and listening... 3 inches, 2 inchesÖ Theyíre the real experts of wild ice.


 

2016

Jan.29, 2016, photos sent by an island resident


 
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 Yearís 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, theyíll 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.

ďPeople said they saw my prized four-foot scraping shovels floating off toward Rochester,Ē says Mr. Currie.

Thatís part of life on the water. Another part is what Rick Simon calls ďskating the wild ice.Ē

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.

ďYou 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,Ē says Mr. Simon.

Feb.10 2013

Toronto Star article, by Marco Chown Oved


Feb.3, 2013, photo by Alec Farquhar

ďAs far as weíre aware, there is nothing weíve ever enforced, nor is it enforceable,Ē 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 wonít give up the long-held tradition, and police, who see it as unsafe.

ďOnce, they even tried to make us wear life jackets,Ē 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

2022 -2023

Feb.6, 2023

From an island resident:This CBC report emphasizes the dangers of skating on the Island.

This is why people who skate out here monitor the conditions carefully and take many precautions and carry safety gear.

With the current mild temperatures, we can assume that unsafe conditions will emerge all over the place out here. Ice that was good a few days ago can thin out very quickly. So itís a very hazardous time to think about skating.

Feb.3, 2023

Feb.3, 2023

From an island resident: Ice conditions are overall quite special on the Island. Some of us made our way from the Algonquin lagoon by the firehall all the way down the lagoons, up Long Pond, and some even made it to Blockhouse Bay and beyond (I turned back before Blockhouse Bay). The wind was ferocious and the whole skate was quite challenging. But we did get to enjoy ice such as the beautiful black ice by the Farm, just past the Church, which is in the attached video.

Saturday should be a good skating day, but please exercise caution in spite of the cold temperatures last night, today and tonight. Basically there is a lot of new ice, some of which froze Sunday night but some of which only froze Thursday night. And surprisingly, there was still some open water Ė under the Centre Island bridge; along Long Pond just past the cut to the Marina. Maybe other places Iím not aware of. This means that if you skate on Saturday, there will be some really new ice which would be dangerous to skate on. Absolutely donít try to skate under the Centre Island bridge Saturday. The ice that might form there will be just one day old.

Hereís the cautious approach that we used to skate along the lagoon today:

- We had a drill to check thickness and used it often. This helped a lot because it was impossible to accurately gauge the thickness by sight alone
- We checked the ice under the Snake Island bridge and skated under the bridge. But donít assume from that this will be safe on Saturday. You need to check conditions every day.
- The ice along towards the RCYC bridge was just too thin so we went overland around that bridge
- We also went overland well before the Centre Island bridge. That was an easy decision because there was open water under the bridge.
- Toward Blockhouse Bay, those who went that way got off the ice and went along the dock on the north side of Long Pond to get onto the ice at Blockhouse Bay.

So overall you can see that in spite of the cold temperatures, skating on natural ice during a time of climate change is never straightforward. So if you come out skating on Saturday, donít skate alone and make sure you have safety gear. If you donít know the conditions, skate with people who do.

Remember that the ferry will not be running from the 9 am boat to the 330 boat Saturday. The last boat to the Island will be 9 am, and no boat after that until the 330 boat. Access to the Island will be via the airport by bus. You need to go through the tunnel to the airport and then to wherever the bus is leaving from. There is a significant chance that the bus driver will ask that you prove that you are an Island resident or visiting an Island resident, to be allowed to ride the bus. People will probably be skating out here all day at various places so you could think about coming on the 8:30 or 9 am boat or later in the day on the 330 or 4 pm boat. The sun doesnít set until 530 pm.

Feb.2, 2023

From an island resident: I havenít been sending many ice reports this winter due to the poor and often unsafe conditions.

Things are looking very good for the next few days as we get winter temperatures before things warm up again next week.

Last week, almost all the ice on the lagoons and much of the ice on Long Pond melted. Even the leftover old ice, which had been pretty reliably thick enough to skate on, started to thin out. It was generally very unsafe. But then starting Sunday night, new ice formed and has been thickening ever since. Some of the new ice is four days old, some three days, some even newer, so weíve been doing a lot of drilling and checking thickness, but have felt confident skating on the main area of new ice on Long Pond as you can see. But even there, there are significant patches of open water past the cut to the Marina towards Blockhouse Bay, and thinner ice generally as you go up Long Pond.

Along the lagoons, generally speaking the new ice is a bit thinner and newer, for example along Snake Island and near the Church and especially from the Church to the Centre Bridge. Which is why weíve been skating on Long Pond.

Tonight will be very cold, which should thicken the newer ice quite significantly. And tomorrow daytime and nighttime will be very cold as well. So unless we get a dump of snow, Friday and Saturday will be very good. There is talk of setting up a sauna and fire in Sunset Cut on Saturday. That is the cut leading from the Algonquin Island lagoon out to the harbour.

Quite possibly we will be able to skate from the Algonquin lagoon all the way to Long Pond on Friday/Saturday, but with caution under the bridges. Maybe we will have to go around some or all of the bridges. Ice under them was still quite thin today.

As usual, wear your safety gear, especially ice picks. Donít skate alone. And especially donít assume that because some ice is thick enough, the ice nearby is also thick enough. That is the single biggest contributor to getting into trouble. If you havenít skated out here before, make sure to go with others who know the conditions and can help keep you safe while you enjoy the wonders that Mother Earth is still giving us even with all the damage we are doing to her.

Some good news Ė the Riviera Cafť at the Rectory Building near the Algonquin Bridge will be open from 11 am Ė 6 pm from Friday to Sunday.

Jan.27, 2023

From an island resident: Unfortunately, mild weather has again melted a lot of the ice that we have enjoyed for two brief periods this winter. The old ice thatís left has a crusty snow cover which prevents you from seeing any thin spots which may be underneath. And that old ice has thinned out significantly overall. There is open water on the western half of Long Pond, around the Church and Farm, on parts of the lagoon as well. So there is basically not any good skating and the ice that does exist is unsafe.

It will get colder next week, including a stretch of days where daytime temperature is zero or below and night temperatures will be as low as -12. So there is some hope for late next week/next week-end.

Weíll keep checking conditions but for now donít think about skating out here.

Jan.17, 2023

From an island resident: Iíve had several emails asking about Island ice conditions. I havenít been sending ice reports because most of it had melted and it didnít get cold enough to produce extensive stretches of good ice. There has been a bit of skating but in a small niche where a bit of ice was left over from December Ė knobbly and surrounded by unsafe black ice.

Weíre heading into another moderating temperature phase and Iíll send an ice report if enough cold weather returns to make it possible to skate out here.

Dec.25, 2022

Dec.25, 2022

From an island resident:Three of us went out for an exploratory skate at 10 am today.

We had planned to try to go along the lagoon from the firehall but conditions were too sketchy. It must not have gotten quite cold enough last night, because there was still open water where we had thought it would have frozen. For example towards the bridge to the RCYC.

We went down to the Church instead. There was nice ice there but the need to be cautious. Some was solid but other ice was newer and barely thick enough. CJ did a lot of drilling to test thickness so we had a good idea where we could skate. This allowed us to go onto some good black ice. It was just too thin towards the Centre Bridge, so we went overland, including on hands and knees across the road coming off the Centre Bridge.

The ice on Long Pond was not the best. Quite a bit of rough ice that had frozen while the the wind was blowing hard. But some other older ice which was pretty good. Again, significant thinner spots, which meant that we didnít go any further down than the second cut that goes toward the new school. We went along that cut and then back out onto Long Pond.

So overall itís a challenging situation. We all had ice picks and did lots of testing, but even with that we had to use our judgement on a number of occasions. We erred on the side of caution.

It will be -6 tonight, which should mean that the ice will thicken up a bit. And below zero during the day tomorrow. So I think weíll go out at 1 pm tomorrow (Monday). Probably from the Church.†

One more thing Ė due to the high winds, there is a lot of sand on the ice. Weíre seriously considering bringing brooms Ö

Dec.24, 2022

From an island resident:We scouted the ice early this afternoon. Itís been such a powerful weather system that the impact has been complex.

There was pre-existing 2 to 3 inch ice by the new school, which a few of us skated on earlier this week, which has mostly become sort of knobbly. Presumably it got wet and then the snow melted into the water on top of that ice while a fierce wind was blowing. There is some similar knobbly ice in the area from the Church towards the Snake Island Bridge.

Then there is nice one day old black ice here and there, especially in the area between the Church and the Farm. We can project that it might be 3 inches thick by tomorrow (Sunday). But even in that area, it appeared that there was thinner ice, so a need to be very cautious and understand the conditions.

There is also some black ice in the cut that goes toward the new school from Long Pond, with similar issues.†

There is still open water under the Centre Bridge and at various points along the lagoon. And significant amounts of sand have blown onto the ice here and there.

 

 

Rink diaries from previous years

2021 - 2022

March 29, 2022

March 29, 2022, Long Pond

From an island resident: This is the last ice report for 2021/22. Itís been pretty great at times and also such great attention to safety.

The last ice on Long Pond is still thick enough here and there to stand on (close to shore where the water is shallow).

Thank you to everyone who made it a special winter, where getting out skating was a safe way to connect with others during the pandemic.

Also thank you to people who have donated to our safety fund. We used the contributions to buy some sets of ice picks, most of which have been distributed. There is money left over which is letting us commission a couple more ice safety signs, which weíre hoping to be able to put up on the Centre Bridge. If you would like to contribute to next yearís efforts, just send me an etransfer. I already have enough money to buy more ice picks, so would love to be able to buy even more of them.

Feb.11, 2022

From an island resident: "I havenít sent an ice report for a couple of weeks because there wasnít much ice out on the Island. There was lots of good skiing however.

Basically the lagoon ice is covered by snow is some form, other than a small rink by the Firehall and an area of flooded ice in Sunfish Cut (which is at the western end of Algonquin Island).

Then there is the harbour, which has changed almost every day. Most recently the ice shifted dramatically over the past couple of days. The photo gives you an idea how that is playing out. The ice surface can change in literally a couple of hours and how clearly dangerous it is to be out there.

So there isnít any good skating right now.

Also there was so much ice in the Wardís dock that the ferry boat was damaged and had to be taken out of service. Which means that for the time being the only way to get onto the Island is via a bus going across the airport runways, with only enough space for Island residents and Parks workers.

So perhaps thatís it for the ice season of 2021/22.

But weíre grateful for the wonderful conditions that extended over a number of weeks and gave us so much pleasure in the midst of this pandemic.

Feb.10, 2022

Feb.10: ice floes in the harbour

From an island resident: Here's a photo from the Ward's dock. The broken up ice is drifting from west to east. Yesterday the eastern end of the harbour was open water, now it's full of ice floes. So of course going out on the harbour is very dangerous.

The lagoon ice is covered with wet or crusty snow.

So there is basically no skating right now and maybe this is it for the season.

Jan.22, 2022

From an island resident: Another day of complex conditions for skating.

When youíve had lovely black ice for a number of days, itís hard to get used to anything less, but it can still be enjoyable. Lots of people were out today.

We skated from Snake Island down to the Centre Bridge and it was quite good. Especially by the Church and Farm. Even with the cold weather, caution was needed under the Centre Bridge. Still another example of the importance of safety gear and caution even when itís been cold for a while.

Long Pond was mostly crusty ice, with skateable but not particularly good ice along the northern shore up to Blockhouse Bay.

We had quite a lesson in harbour ice conditions this morning. There was new ice in the Cove in the eastern harbour. But literally within a few minutes, wind and waves went to work resulting in a big area of open water and the breakup of most of the new ice Ö still another lesson in how changeable conditions can be out there.

People have been skating on the harbour off Algonquin Island. The ice isnít very nice. Further out the conditions are impossible to predict Ė the ferry is regularly maintaining a channel and the fireboat is going to Hanlanís and the RCYC. So the conditions can change in the space of a few minutes and can be very hazardous. The attached video is from a location where we were very confident and had scouted the conditions carefully. We all had safety gear and were skating as a group.

There are nice rinks on the Algonquin lagoon, one usually for shinny and a couple of smaller ones which are good for kids.

Jan.21, 2022

From an island resident: I feel so fortunate to have had a real stretch of winter weather Ė cold, black ice for 10 days, a big snowfall, lots more cold. This used to be what winters were like.

For natural ice skating it brings another level of complexity, as snow covers the ice and reduces our ability to understand the conditions.

The way things have evolved out on the Island is quite interesting. I had assumed that the snowfall would cover all of the lagoon and put an end to skating. But instead, the brief warm up has resulted in some pretty good ice from Snake Island to Centre Bridge. So if you start from Snake, you will find decent conditions (not perfect black ice) up past the RCYC, around by the Church and Farm and up to Centre Bridge. Itís been very cold day and night, but you still need to be careful because there are currents under the ice, etc. Always be especially aware under the bridges, most hazardous being the Centre bridge. Donít stop wearing your safety gear. DONíT SKATE ALONE.

There are several rinks cleared on the lagoon by Algonquin Island. Usually one of them is for a shinny game but that leaves another rink or two for kids and pleasure skaters.


Skating in the harbour. Photo: Kathleen Doody

On Long Pond, there is not very good but skateable ice along the north shore so you could make your way up towards Blockhouse Bay. Itís much different from the excellent conditions last week-end.

People have been skating on the harbour and this is a whole other level of risk. There are a lot of factors affecting the harbour. Itís a big sheet of ice and there are various boats regularly cutting across it in unpredictable ways. Ice that was safe in the morning might be very dangerous in the afternoon. Or wind and currents might literally break off a whole stretch of ice and destabilize the rest. There have been times when half the harbour ice has blown away in a few hours. Also, the ice out there now isnít very good Ė mostly rough, crusty, with patches or stretches of smoother ice.

This is a sort of ďice highwayĒ created by the police swampboat going through wet snow a couple of days ago.


Ice Highway. Photo: Chris Jackson

Ice Highway. Photo: Chris Jackson
 
Jan.15, 2022

From an island resident: We scouted the ice this morning all the way down the lagoon starting from Wardís by the firehall. Including lots of drilling to test thickness.

I know that Iím always emphasizing safety, but especially when itís so cold your guard is down, you assume that all the ice is safe and unfortunately thatís not true. There are currents under the ice, there is the effect of the sun etc. Weíve raised some money to buy ice picks so I will have a few extras with me today.

The lagoon running along Algonquin Island has some nice ice. There is a shinny game going on.

We skated with care onto Blockhouse Bay. This is where conditions will be particularly unpredictable. The fireboat has been breaking up the ice and may do so again today. This means that you need to check carefully. But there is also nice black ice up there and along towards the filtration plant. You really need to check things out and be careful. Ice is thin near the entrance to the turtle pond. There are little pools of open water where the fireboat has gone through. And there is thin ice and open water by the trout pond.

And itís cold! With a breeze. Itís likely that you could warm up in the washrooms over by Long Pond, they seem to be open. So what Iím thinking of doing is around 1.30 or so, leaving from Snake Island. Iíll have a backpack and carry my boots with me. That way, I can take off my skates at Long Pond later on and warm up in the washrooms and then go back to skating Ö


Daniel and Sophia

Sunday will be warmer during the day but still below zero. There will have been another cold night, so the ice will have thickened up.

Sunday night it will snow. For those of you who havenít skated out here after a major snowfall, it brings all kinds of unpredictability. The problem is that you never really know the state of the ice under the snow. Also, the snow acts as an insulator, which allows the ice underneath to melt. But sometimes the wind blows the snow off the ice. So weíll see how all of this develops.

Something very special happened on the ice this morning. While we were scouting the conditions, down near the dock at the Island school, I had the privilege of meeting Daniel and Sophia. It was their first time skating on the Island. They are ice/arctic researchers. And it was a special day for another reason Ė Daniel proposed and Sophia accepted! So join me in congratulating them, with hopes that we will see them out on the ice again.

Jan.11, 2022

Jan.11: frost flowers on Long Pond. Photo: Elena

From an island resident: Four of us went down to Long Pond mid-morning. Along the lagoon, almost all the open water from yesterday has frozen, but is generally hazardous. For example, around the Farm, under the Centre Bridge. On Long Pond itself there is also one day old ice where there were open patches yesterday. Fortunately we could detect the new ice through the light snow covering, but the snow has continued and that might be more challenging later today or tomorrow. It appeared that the patches further up Long Pond had thinner ice Ė it was easy to break through. So you really need to take care on Long Pond. Itís mostly around 6 inches thick but there are these thin areas Ö. Wear your ice picks and donít go out alone.

On the other hand, there were lovely frost flowers on the new ice. These develop when mist floats from open water over the newly forming ice.

Jan.10, 2022

From an island resident: Caution: there was still a surprising amount of open water on the lagoons. Especially Sunfish Cut (the west end of Algonquin Island towards the harbour), by the Farm and Church and under bridges. This means that if you go out today, even though it was very cold last night, there will be a lot of ice with just one night of freezing. So donít go on that ice. It may very well thicken in the days to come, given the forecast. So Long Pond is still the most advisable place to skate.


skating toward Centre Bridge. Photo: Alex Farquar

Overall, the mild weather on Sunday didnít harm the ice on Long Pond too much. We started out from the dock by the School. There are a few small crusty patches where the water on the ice from Sunday froze that way. There were some not insignificant patches of open water on Long Pond itself, so as with the lagoons these patches will likely have frozen overnight but will be very new ice. So really take care to understand what you are dealing with. Donít skate on them inadvertently. Lots of open water under Centre Bridge Ė again, this may have frozen overnight but will be unsafe. %block

Monday afternoon was very windy and the wind chill got more significant as the afternoon wore on. We did a lot of skating into the wind and then letting the wind blow us back. It was so strong that you could become a human sail boat, tacking diagonally down Long Pond towards Centre Bridge. But it was quite a thrilling time together and enhanced by the ice boat going past at high speed.

Jan.8, 2022

Jan.8: long pond towards centre bridge. Photo: Alan Farquhar

From an island resident: This was a very special day. A lot of people came down to Long Pond to enjoy a beautiful sunny day. In the midst of the Omicron surge, we had a safe, distanced afternoon and a sense of liberation from all the pressures of these times.

People were careful about avoiding new thin ice and kept to the safer areas. The ice had thickened up due to a cold Friday night. There was very new thin ice towards the Centre Bridge and towards Blockhouse Bay, as well as the cut towards the harbour from Long Pond. And there are all kinds of areas with new thin ice or even open water on the lagoon from Wardís to the Centre bridge. So are dealing with the realities of a winter in the midst of climate change. There were a number of people giving good advice on where it was safe to skate and what to avoid.

Tonight it will get milder, maybe even with wet snow or rain into Sunday morning. So the conditions likely wonít be very good on Sunday. Then it gets cold again, starting with Sunday night and with very low temperatures Monday night. So unless the precipitation ruins the ice surface, we could have skating again on Monday and certainly on Tuesday. Iíll check things out Sunday afternoon and send an ice report Sunday evening. We might have a sunrise skate on Monday if conditions are favourable.

The 7 day forecast is for snow late in the week, so itís hard to know what next week-end will be like.

Thank you again to all those who have contributed money for ice picks and additional skating caution signs. This is important because many people are now coming from the City to skate for the first time, having heard about it on social media. Often they arenít aware of the hazards of skating on natural ice, especially with the type of temperature swings which now seem to be a feature of climate change winter. I think that I might have enough money to order another 10 picks, which will make 20 in all. What Iíve been doing up to now is giving picks myself to people who donít have them. Maybe I could give a few picks to regular Island skaters so that they can do the same with new skaters whom they encounter out here. Today I spoke with four people from the City who were getting ready to skate by the Island farm, which would have been a dangerous decision given that it was open water there yesterday.

If youíre posting to social media, make sure to include safety information. Itís exciting to skate on natural ice but there are risks which people need to be aware of.

Jan.7, 2022

sunrise skate, Jan,7. Photo: Kathleen Doody

From an island resident: So today we skated at sunrise and late afternoon from the dock near the Island school, near Long Pond. I would say that the ice surface was close to the best Iíve ever experienced out here Ė all black ice, much of it very smooth. You could see the bottom in many locations. It was quite frigid with a wind chill. The wind was strong enough to push you all the way down Long Pond, which is always such a special experience.

Probably over 20 people were skating there late afternoon. We shared a pretty special experience, including some wonderful figure skaters doing beautiful things out there.

Someone saw a lone coyote early this morning and I saw a big hawk, maybe a redtail.

Jan.6, 2022

Jan.6, 2022: first skate on Long Pond. Photo: Alec Farquar

From an island resident: Today, after some mild weather, there was lots of open water down the lagoon towards Long Pond. Open water including most of the lagoon along Snake Island toward the RCYC Bridge; and by the Island Church and Farm before the Centre Bridge. But there was ice by the Island School, so a group of us (with safety gear and taking care to avoid open spots) had a nice skate around sunset today.

Weíll go for a sunrise skate around 7:45 Friday from the Island School dock; and also later in the afternoon, around 3:30 or 4 pm, same location. Although the ice will be thicker, there will still be hazards, so please take care and carry your safety gear.

Saturday is looking good, but probably advisable not to try skating down. The ice on the lagoons will be maximum 2 nights freezing in half of the length of the lagoons. So come down to Long Pond on your bike or walking.

Iím raising money for two purposes:

  • To buy ice picks to give out to people who donít have them Ė remember that there were some inexperienced people out here last winter and some went through the ice
  • To pay for more warning signs, ideally to post on additional locations along the lagoon or Centre Bridge

So please e-transfer to me and whatever I receive, I will spend for these two purposes.

Thanks a lot and hope to see some of you soon.

And Ö bring your N95 mask so you can put it on if youíre close to others talking for longer than a couple of minutes! Omicron is really infectious even outside where people are close to each other.

 

Rink diaries from previous years

2020 - 2021

Feb.17, 2021

From an island resident: This may be the last ice report of the season. Most of the ice on the Island is already snow covered. And more snow is coming. And then the temperatures will start to rise.

So essentially the only skating would be cleared rinks.

There are also new hazards, because snow insulates the ice and you can get melt underneath. This means that you could be walking, skiing or skating through snow and not realize that there is a thin patch under the snow.

But itís been a wonderful skating season and the skiing is great!

Feb.15, 2021

From Suhan Li: "I would like to know whether the ice conditions are favorable for skating today - I didn't see an update on the blog today or yesterday. Also would love to know which ferry has the best access to the skating areas as the information available online is limited."

Response from cityrinks: "We post occasionally, not every day, and just whatever people send us. In terms of the best ferry access -- Alec doesn't write about that, since he lives on the island. So you'll have to explore that yourself, go over on the ferry and look for skaters and talk to them. An adventure."

Response from Suhan Li: "Ended up going today and it was great. Turns out only the Ward Island ferry is running in the winter. We took a short walk to the lagoon between Algonquin and Snake island and had to walk maybe 50-100m through choppy ice to get to the smooth portions. From there on out maybe only a quarter of the ice had snow dusted on top. We saw ~50 people out on the ice as far as 1km out into the harbour. Ice thickness looked good on the exposed parts with only a couple of suspiciously clear but frozen cracks."

Feb.13, 2021

From an island resident:


the ice near Snake Island

There were a lot of people skating on the harbour today even in the cold, windy conditions. The wind has swept most of the snow off the ice. Some people skated out to the harbour through Sunfish Cut; others walked across Snake Island and put their skates on there, where the distance to good ice is much shorter.

This is a reminder that even more than on the lagoons, conditions on the harbour are very changeable. Currents move under the ice. There are still big areas of open water on the harbour. Wind and waves can break off big plates of ice. And the ferry boat and fire boat regularly cut through the ice. So this means that awareness of the conditions, skating with a group and carrying safety gear are very important.

A big thank you to all those who contributed to the cost of the warning signs posted on the Snake Island bridge Ė weíve raised $200, which will cover the full cost.

 
Feb.11, 2021


From an island resident: the people who skate often on the Island are very safety conscious. We love to skate on natural ice but weíve had a lot of experience with the changeable conditions out here. So we try to be sure that weíre aware of the potential risks. We also carry safety gear and skate in a group so that if something does happen, we can take care of each other.

Generally speaking, even when most of the ice is quite thick, as it is now, it is usually much more thin under the bridges and in a number of locations where there are strong currents flowing.

These past few weeks weíve had a unique combination of excellent skating conditions and a desire by many people to get out of their homes into nature. So a lot of people have been coming to the Island to skate. Some of them donít understand the conditions very well. A couple of week-ends ago, two people went through the ice under the Centre Bridge. They were quickly rescued, but it could have ended very badly.

So an anonymous person has created some signage (attached) to warn people about the bridges and Centre Bridge in particular.

The signs cost around $200 and Iím hoping that some of you will be able to contribute to cover the costs. If you e-transfer me the money, Iíll send it along to the sign maker.

Feb.10, 2021

From an island resident: There was a bit of new snow over most of the ice today. A couple of us skated today on Long Pond through the snow. Lots of animal tracks, including big coyote prints and some smaller ones that could be fox or perhaps racoon or muskrat.

Unless it snows tonight, probably some of the snow will be cleared off by wind and sun by tomorrow. There are big rinks cleared by the Island Church and Farm.

Even a bit of snow on the ice brings significant risks. Basically, you canít see what is under that snow. You need to have a tool to check thickness. Youíre taking a risk and need safety gear even more than usual, and of course donít skate alone.

The potentially dangerous areas Iím aware of are under the bridges, most significantly Centre Bridge; the bend around the Farm; the bend around towards the Lighthouse on Blockhouse Bay and Blockhouse Bay towards the Hanlanís dock. There are also patches of thin ice or open water around various docks, especially on Blockhouse Bay.

Feb.6, 2021

From an island resident: This morning I scouted out the ice along the lagoon up to Long Pond. I was surprised to find thin ice/open water under all three bridges Ė Snake, RCYC and Centre. Under Centre Bridge there is a lot of open water. I thought that maybe it would get cold enough last night to start some new ice there.

There is also open water around the bend by the Farm, where the ice is often thin.

This means that areas where the ice is usually thinner due to currents might have gotten thinner over the past couple of days, due to milder temperatures.

Having said that, I think that if youíre willing to go around the bridges, which isnít very hard, you could make it up the lagoon from the Firehall to Long Pond. If anyone wants to do that in a group, Iíll be leaving from the Firehall at 1 pm today.

Snow is forecast tonight so weíll see how things develop. If the wind keeps blowing, it might blow snow off a lot of the ice.

Feb.3,2021

Photo: Alec Farquhar

Photo: Mark McLean
 

From an island resident: That was a very special day (after several previous ones). Black ice all over the place but especially Blockhouse Bay. There are still some hazardous areas (near some docks, bubblers, under bridges). So you need to be aware of conditions as usual and bring safety gear. Donít skate alone!

It will be milder next couple of days, then getting cold again. So we will have to go day by day and see how it turns out.

Jan.30,2021

From an island resident: This was a very special day of skating on the Island. I was out three times myself, starting with a sunrise skate where we measured the thickness of the ice. This identified that the ice under the Centre Island bridge was not safe Ė and indeed this afternoon two people fell through the ice there. They were rescued by some people who had been playing shinny nearby. This highlights the need to be aware of the conditions and carry safety gear. Every one of these incidents has the potential to end very badly.

As the day went on, we saw the impact of the late January sun. It definitely affected the ice, including under the RCYC and Snake Island bridges as examples.

Having said that, a lot of people from the Island and the City enjoyed a spectacular day of sun, skating and community. It was possible, with caution around bridges, to skate down from the Firehall to Long Pond. There was beautiful black ice around Snake and from the Church to the Centre Bridge. There was black ice at the end of Long Pond which had been too thin yesterday but where people skated today.

Caution is needed as temperatures rise. Itís only going down to -8 tonight versus minus double digits for the three previous nights. The sun gets stronger every day.

Some of us are going for a sunrise skate Sunday, leaving from the Wardís dock when the 730 from the city arrives. Our thinking is that the ice will be most solid then versus later in the day.

Jan.12, 2021

From an island resident: We had surprisingly good ice by the Firehall early this morning. It is getting just cold enough at night, and staying cold enough during the day, for ice to build up slowly. Weíre also fortunate that there has been so little snow, which means that you can see the ice and evaluate it better. There is some thicker, older ice near the Firehall, with newer, thinner black ice east and west of there. As it gets milder during the day, the newer ice will be less and less safe.

Some people are going for a sunset skate today either on Long Pond (if conditions permit) or by the new school where weíve been skating for a few days now.

Tonight is supposed to get a little bit cold, so we decided to go to Long Pond for a sunrise skate on Wednesday. After that, it will get milder for a week, before temperatures go down again and likely we will get thicker ice for next week-end.

The conditions remain challenging. Lots of places which would usually have thicker ice have very thin, unsafe ice. So you should be with a group, have safety gear and check out the conditions carefully.

Jan.9, 2021

near the new school

From an island resident: We had a nice day of skating down by the new school. Itís been just cold enough day and night for the ice there to thicken sufficiently. There is a skin of ice on Long Pond but too thin overall.

Overall, there is way more open water and thin ice than there would normally be this time of year.

Some people tested the conditions behind Doughnut Island, in hopes of getting a close look at the 100 year old water pipe that has floated to the surface of Long Pond. Apparently several people went through the ice there although no harm done. We have our safety gear and know what weíre doing, but you can see the hazards of this mild winter.

The forecast is -7 for tonight. This is not bitter cold but it is cold enough to thicken the ice a bit. The forecast high on Sunday is 1 degree, so conditions should be similar or a bit better than today. We all need to take care, test ice thickness and carry safety gear. Donít skate alone.

Jan.8, 2021

From an island resident: It has gotten just cold enough to create some good skating opportunities on the Island. You really need to understand the conditions. Many of the areas where we usually skate were open water yesterday (for example virtually all of Long Pond and many stretches of the lagoon from there to Wardís). But there is skateable ice near the new school; on part of the RCYC lagoon east of the Church; and near the firehall at Wardís.

A group of us skated by the new school late afternoon and sunset. It was enjoyable and we tested thickness quite carefully to figure out where we were safe. Weíll be going back there tomorrow, late morning. If youíre coming from the City, youíre going to be much better off if you come on your bike, because the new school is several kilometres from the Wardís Island dock, which is the only place that the ferry boats are going these days.

Jan.1, 2021

From an island resident: Surprisingly, although overall conditions are perhaps the worst ever, it stayed just cold enough for skating in small pockets of the lagoons Ö


the lagoon beside the RCYC

People skated on the lagoon between Centreville and Olympic Island where weíve been a few times in the past couple of weeks; also on a nice stretch of smooth ice on the lagoon beside the RCYC (thatís the photo). You really have to be careful and aware of the conditions Ė thereís thin ice and open water all over the place. Chris Jackson and I tried to get from the nature sanctuary to Doughnut Island but the ice was just too sketchy as we got closer to Doughnut. Our intention was to get a better look at the 100 year old water pipe that has mysteriously floated up from the bottom of Long Pond right across from Doughnut. You can see it from a distance from the Centre Island bridge. Itís huge and you just scratch your head wondering how it could have floated up and be sticking out of the water. However, we got to stop and feed the chickadees at the nature sanctuary (see the photo of Chris feeding one of them).

Iím really hoping that we get enough cold weather to give us more reliable conditions where we could go out as a group. Unfortunately doesnít look too promising for the next while.

In the meantime, Iím including a link from Daniel Rotsztain of a beautiful lake out West which has a 30 km. skating path!

Dec.30, 2020

Ice sculpture near Centreville

From an island resident: Such a mild winter so far. But it got just cold enough last night to firm up the ice by Centreville. As far as I know, that was the only skateable ice on the Island (and we certainly looked in a lot of places). Iíve never seen so much open water this time of year all along the lagoons and on Long Pond.

Dec.28, 2020

From an island resident: Not much ice out there today but then this wonderful video arrived from Daniel Rotsztain, longtime friend who has spent many enjoyable times out on the ice. Also sometimes known as the Urban Geographer. The music is by Bobby Gadda. Thank you Daniel and Bobby!

All footage from Toronto Island 2014-2020: video by Daniel Rotsztain

Dec.27, 2020

From an island resident: I rode my bike down the lagoon to Long Pond today. Open water just about everywhere. Came home quite discouraged and then heard that a stretch of ice had been found between Centreville and Olympic Island. It turned out to be quite nice and a lot of people went down there. Over even a few hours, conditions deteriorated Ė someone went through the ice as a result. We had our safety gear and it turned out fine, but shows how sketchy conditions can become. Tomorrow will be quite mild so deterioration will continue. But hopefully this ice will harden up again when colder weather returns.

Tyler Ganton used his chainsaw to make an ice sculpture.


chainsaw ice sculpture

Dec.27: a stretch between Centreville and Olympic Island

And thank you Chris Jackson for a photo.

Itís been the mildest stretch of winter weather that I can ever remember and we can only hope to get at least a few days of true winter weather at some point.


2019 - 2020

Feb.29, 2020, from A.F.

[high: minus 4C] Three of us skated today on Long Pond. There's a thin layer of snow over quite knobbly ice. As you go along towards the cut leading to the Marina, the ice quality deteriorates and it becomes quite crusty. I would guess that sun and milder temperatures will lead to further deterioration. Perhaps that was our last skate of this season. In spite of the ice quality, it was still so nice to be out on a brilliant sunny day with the wind blowing.

There is one day old black ice towards the Centre Island bridge and then along the Farm. I doubt that it will get cold enough tonight to make it safe. But it was just beautiful to see the snow being driven across it by the wind.

Feb.28,2020, from A.F.

[low: minus 11C] There is significant open water along the lagoons. But Long Pond is completely clear of snow and looks surprisingly good.


Long Pond, Feb.22, 2020. Photo: Brendan Carberry

closer
 
Feb.20, 2020, from A.F.

We had a pretty special time on Long Pond this afternoon. Skated all the way to the lagoon by the Filtration Plant. You need to pay attention to the conditions Ė there is thin new ice at various places along the way. There are a few crusty thin spots here and there. The main thing is to check the ice as it actually is versus assuming what it should be. Bring your ice picks and donít go skating alone.

Friday morning might be the last good skating time this year.

Feb.19, 2020, afternoon, from A.F.

Four of us had a very nice skate late this afternoon. There is a lot more smooth ice than Monday and no crusty ice.

The wind was blowing hard out of the northwest and we got the chance to be blown down Long Pond.

HOWEVER, we got quite a lesson in caution today Ė on the south side of Long Pond from Doughnut Island down towards Forestry Island, there were some dangerously thin areas, especially some of the gas pockets. We had gotten very used to the general thickness of the ice and then suddenly we were on thin ice.

There is new, very thin black ice on the cut to the Marina and around the bend at Blockhouse Bay. It wonít be thick enough to skate on Thursday.

So we need to be really careful and not assume that the ice is safe because the nearby ice is safe. We have a strange combination of spring thaw and cold weather.

Bring your safety gear and donít take conditions for granted.

Feb.19, 2020, from A.F., morning

Long Pond this morning. Overall, it appears that basically there is very little snow left on the ice; and that where the ice has survived itís smoother and probably better to skate on. There doesnít seem to be as much crusty stuff as there was on Monday. There are big areas of very thin ice and open water, especially Sunfish Cut, along Snake Island and around the Farm. I would expect that the areas of open water along Long Pond are larger than Monday. But the ice on Long Pond looks pretty nice from land. It will stay below freezing today with a lot of wind, so even a few flurries arenít likely to cause problems. It could be quite good but given the hazards, I certainly wouldnít want to skate alone. Bring your safety gear!


Feb.17, 2020, photo by A.Farquhar
Feb.17, 2020, from an island resident

Five of us skated up Long Pond to Blockhouse Bay. Much of Long Pond has been cleared of snow. There are stretches of pretty nice skating, but also lots of crusty patches and bumpy ice. The black ice areas at the cut to the Marina and around the bend as Blockhouse goes toward the filtration plant, are significantly melted and the ice that remains is very thin and unsafe.

It was still a glorious day and nice to be down there.

At various points along the lagoons, the black ice situation is similar Ė thinner, with more open water.

It appears from the forecast that we might conceivably have another melt and then low temperatures later in the week, so we will have to see how it all develops.

Jan.21, 2020

Jan.21, 2020: thin ice near Trout Lake

The photo (right) epitomizes the difficult skating conditions this winter Ė often we would have the beginning of beautiful black ice and it never got cold enough to make it safe to skate on. Weíve still enjoyed every chance we could get.


Dec.21, 2019
Dec.21, 2019, from an island resident

Weíve had some nice unexpected skating on the Island past few days.† Even today was pretty good on Long Pond (not on the lagoons though).Maybe there will be skating Sunday morning but beyond that who knows.† Probably not much until the temperature goes down in January.

 

Rink diaries from previous years

2018 - 2019

Jan.19, 2018

From R.Sanger: They really know what theyíre doing on the island and they just ignore whatever city rules there might be. Though the city doesnít always ignore them ó e.g.. they send the fireboat in to break up the ice, and when the harbour freezes they break up the ice just off the Harbourfront piers so people wonít try to walk or skate directly across.

Richard's example of smart natural ice skating at Toronto Island, from a skater's blog:

Thereís about an inch of snow on the ice along the lagoon but much has already been swept off Long Pond by the wind. The ice all over Long Pond is 4 inches plus. However, it looks like perhaps the fireboat has come into Blockhouse Bay and broken up the ice quite a ways in from the Hanlan's dock. So not safe to venture over that way.

People were shovelling some paths on Long Pond. This allowed us to make sure we were avoiding swamp gas bubbles.

We had a really nice look at a bald eagle. There were lots of coyote tracks.

It was a mild day and there were still spots along the lagoon and on Long Pond, tending to be along shore, with water and/or sketchy ice. Now with snow covering the lagoon, it will be harder to detect these areas, so not advisable to skate down the lagoon. There are still currents working away under the ice and conditions may not be what they seem.

Don't go down alone, make sure you go as a group.

Jan.13, 2019

From R.Sanger: On Sunday, two of us had an amazing skate with an islander on the lagoons and backchannels between the islands, going all the way from the Firehall to Lighthouse near Hanlanís Point on the canals and skating fast under the bridges (except for the Centre island Bridge which you have to climb and crawl around)Ö It was so much fun to skate with the islander who happily took on the role I usually play of Chief Reassurer and Handholder: ďOh yeah, itís thick enoughÖĒ And it was.

 

2017- 2018

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






 
Jan.1, 2018

Toronto Island. Photo: Rick Simon

From an island resident: 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 an island resident: 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 Wardsí foremost ice condition authorities, on their way back from a pre-snow skate, so we were well advised by the masters ó 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 ó and using their ďsonarĒ to determine the thickness ó tapping the ice with the butt-end of a hockey and listening... 3 inches, 2 inchesÖ Theyíre the real experts of wild ice.


 

2016

Jan.29, 2016, photos sent by an island resident


 
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 Yearís 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, theyíll 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.

ďPeople said they saw my prized four-foot scraping shovels floating off toward Rochester,Ē says Mr. Currie.

Thatís part of life on the water. Another part is what Rick Simon calls ďskating the wild ice.Ē

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.

ďYou 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,Ē says Mr. Simon.

Feb.10 2013

Toronto Star article, by Marco Chown Oved


Feb.3, 2013, photo by Alec Farquhar

ďAs far as weíre aware, there is nothing weíve ever enforced, nor is it enforceable,Ē 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 wonít give up the long-held tradition, and police, who see it as unsafe.

ďOnce, they even tried to make us wear life jackets,Ē 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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