Skating trails abound across Canada
Ice skating has long been a favourite winter pastime in Winnipeg. In fact, we once held the Guinness Book of World Records record for the longest naturally frozen skating trail. That was in 2008, when our beloved river trail created by The Forks measured 8.54 kilometres.
This year, the Nestaweya River Trail presented by The Winnipeg Foundation is six kilometres long, winding along the Assiniboine and Red rivers from Hugo Docks to Churchill Drive. There are walking and cycling paths, as well as cross-country ski tracks, running parallel to the skating trail. Whatever the activity, the confluence of our two main rivers makes for the perfect place to enjoy Winnipeg’s world-famous winters.
Invermere, B.C., currently holds the Guinness record for the longest skating trail, after taking the title from us in 2014. That year, their trail on the Lake Windermere Whiteway measured an astounding 29.98 kilometres. The groomed track runs all the way around the lake, connecting the neighbouring communities of Invermere and Windermere, set against a beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
Since 2015, The Victoria Park IceWay in Edmonton has been magically lighting up winter nights. The three-loop skating trail is three kilometres long, winding through a beautiful, forested park situated along the North Saskatchewan River. It’s connected to the Victoria Park Skating Oval, a 400-metre Olympic-sized track designed for speed skating. After sunset the trail is colourfully illuminated by a mosaic of rainbow lights, making for an enchanting setting that allows skaters to keep gliding until the park closes at 10 p.m.
You can’t talk ice skating in Canada without expressing some mad respect for Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Rideau Canal Skateway, recognized by Guinness as the largest naturally frozen ice rink. In operation for over 50 years, the trail here is 7.8 kilometres with a total surface area of 165,621 square metres – equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized skating rinks. It’s a busy thoroughfare for daily commuters to downtown Ottawa, outdoor enthusiasts, and visiting tourists.
Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, a small town between Montreal and Quebec City, is home to 15 kilometres of picturesque skating trails laid out like a maze. Known as Domaine de la Forêt Perdue – or domain of the lost forest – the icy labyrinth winds through a snow-covered forest of aromatic pines. As an added bonus, skaters may encounter clusters of farm animals along the way, including goats, sheep, alpacas, and an ostrich.
The longest – and oldest – river skating trail in Quebec is an hour north of Montreal. The Joliette Skateway on the Assomption River has been in operation for 40 years. It has a distinctly Québécois feel as it meanders through the municipalities of Joliette, Notre Dame des Prairies, and St. Charles Borromée. The river is divided into two trails running in opposite directions, making a nine-kilometre return-trip loop with a pedestrian path down the middle. It traverses downtown districts, quiet countryside and residential areas, where a local contest encourages homeowners to create lighting displays for the skaters to enjoy.
Not a bad way to spend winter days here in Canada.
RoseAnna Schick is an avid traveller and music lover who seeks inspiration wherever she goes. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org