6 Places to Ice-Skate Across Canada
Skate through the forest on a 3-kilometre stretch of trail, or take a spin on one of the world’s most storied natural lakes. Photo: Ben Girardi/Getty Images
What is it about gliding over ice as smooth as glass with the sun and the clouds reflecting back at us as we go? As Canadians, many of us consider skating a birthright, and learning how is a rite of passage.
And doing it in our great outdoors is a pleasure that we can get behind. It adds a little magic to winter and is a healthy way to take on the dropping temperatures and the cabin fever.
But these aren’t your average outdoor rinks. Skate through the forest on a three-kilometre stretch of trail or take a spin on one of the world’s most storied and stunning natural lakes.
One of our favourites, above, is off the Thousand Islands Parkway in Gananoque, Ont. Lace up your skates and get moving on the new Gord Brown Memorial Canada 150 Outdoor Rink, named after the region’s member of Parliament who served from 2004 until his death in 2018.
More Ice-Skating Options Across Canada
In Whitehorse, Yukon, Shipyards Park’s roller-blading path transforms into an icy skating loop in winter. The route is lit by fire pits and warming huts, enabling skaters to linger on the ice throughout the long winter nights.
Further south in Invermere, B.C., the Lake Windermere Whiteway – the longest skating trail in the world at more than 30 kilometres – offers a glacial paradise connecting the lakeside towns of Invermere and Windermere. The sheer size of the trail makes it particularly ideal for physical distancing.
In Lac-des-Loups, Que., a three-kilometre ice loop next to Gatineau Park invites a leisurely glide toward an enchanting skating site. Here, a snowy paradise sheltered by trees beckons families, lovers and friends seeking an icy afternoon delight.
In Perth, Ont., rent skates from Perth Outfitters and glide along a 400-metre groomed trail winding through lush forest. Whether forest bathing among the trees or setting up an informal hockey game at the shinny rink, there’s plenty to keep you motivated. You’ll also find a cosy log cabin clubhouse, hot chocolate and fire pit onsite, completing the classic Canadian scene.
In Ottawa, at River Oak Estate, a three-kilometre maze of ice trails leads to an outdoor rink and heated log barn. In the evening, twinkling lights and torches light the trail, creating a magical tableau that will leave you longing for an extended winter.
Finally, if you’re determined to visit an ice rink, consider Lake Louise, Alta. Named one of the 10 most beautiful skating rinks in the world by CNN Travel, the frozen lake is cleared and maintained daily by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, enabling skaters to soar over the ice against a dramatic backdrop of the Victoria Glacier and frosted Rocky Mountains. A heated shelter nearby helps to warm chilly fingers and toes between laps. For an extra special treat, visit the area during SnowDays annually during the month of January, when the Fairmont Hotel team builds a majestic ice castle sculpture right on the lake.