In 2005, the Rideau Canal Skateway made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. It is the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world.
In 2007, the Rideau Canal was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). You are skating on the world’s most famous rink!
The Rideau Canal Skateway receives an average of a million visits a year.
The average skating season is 50 days long, but a record of 90 days was set during the 1971–1972 season.
The Rideau Canal Skateway is the equivalent of 90 Olympic-sized rinks (165,621 square metres), and is 7.8 kilometres long.
Cracks in the ice are normal. They occur because temperature changes cause the ice to expand and contract.
The holes in the ice are used to get water to flood the ice surface to make it smooth for public skating. There are about 20 holes along the side of the Skateway.
Closed sections of the canal are unsafe for public use. Often, these areas are marked by signs and/or barricades/fences or cones.
Maintenance crews work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the skating surface smooth and clear. Snow removal is ongoing, and a portion of the Skateway is flooded every night, weather permitting.
Before flooding the canal, a tractor sweeps the canal to remove snow and ice shavings. A large “water dispersion machine” (not to be confused with a Zamboni) is used to flood the ice surface. Areas that cannot be reached by the machine are flooded by maintenance crews using pumps and hoses.
Trucks and equipment may be present on the ice even when the Skateway is closed. They are needed to prepare the ice for public use. Trucks are used:
- to maintain the Skateway
- to service and bring supplies to change rooms and facilities
- to install equipment/structures for activities/events.
In addition, it is strictly prohibited for members of the public to drive a vehicle on the Skateway.
Water expands as it freezes, making ice less dense than water. That’s why ice floats. Look closely at the ice cubes in your next cold drink, and you’ll see that only about 10 percent of their volume floats above the liquid.
Did you know that there’s water beneath the surface that you’re skating on? The ice surface floats, sinking slowly into the water as weight is applied.
A team of 50 skate patrollers dressed in neon yellow jackets patrol the Skateway, ensuring that all visitors have a safe skate.
The length of the season depends on the weather, but typically the Rideau Canal Skateway opens in January and closes in March.
- 2014-2015 Season: January 10 to March 9, 2015 (59 consecutive days)
- 2013–2014 Season: December 31 to March 11, 2014 (71 days)
- 2012–2013 Season: January 8 to February 28, 2013 (42 days)
- 2011–2012 Season: January 13 to February 21, 2012 (38 days)
- 2010–2011 Season: January 8 to March 5, 2011 (56 days)
- 2009–2010 Season: January 14 to February 26, 2010 (43 days)
- 2008–2009 Season: January 1 to March 5, 2009 (63 days)
- 2007–2008 Season: January 25 to March 5, 2008 (41 days)
- 2006–2007 Season: January 26 to March 12, 2007 (46 days)
- 2005–2006 Season: January 7 to March 10, 2006 (63 days)
Average length of skating season over the past five years: 54 days
Longest skating season: 1971–1972, lasting 90 days
Shortest skating season: 2001–2002, lasting 35 days (26 skating days)
Longest period of consecutive skating days: 59 days, from January 10 to March 9, 2015.
Earliest Skateway opening: December 18, in both 1972 and 1981
Latest Skateway opening: February 2, 2002
Earliest Skateway closing: February 13, 1984
Latest Skateway closing: March 25, 1972