January 8, 2014 7:36 pm

Canadians prove backyard rinks won’t become history

It’s become something of a Canadian institution. Even ‘The Great One’ Wayne Gretzky, learned to skate on an outdoor rink.

But some researchers are suggesting due to climate change over time, that backyard skate may become a thing of the past.

Canadians are responding – even working together to prevent “back-yard rinklessness.”

Which is where Shawn Hass comes in. This is Hass’ second year nursing his outdoor rink.

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“There’s nothing more Canadian than having a hockey rink in your backyard,” said Hass.”

While he sees it as a Canadian right of passage for his kids to experience skating outdoors, he also acknowledges it’s a labour of love.

“My wife sometimes thinks it’s a little crazy the late nights and maybe passing on some of the chores around the house that I’m supposed to be doing when I’m outside,” said Hass.

“I have to admit zamboni-ing the ice is very therapeutic.”

He’s not alone.

Some researchers suggest due to climate change the outdoor rink will become a thing of the past.

But popular website http://www.rinkwatch.org is proving them wrong.

“We were interested in variations in winter weather conditions. but what we found very quickly is that there’s a very passionate community here in Canada of rink watchers and rink makers,” said Dr. Robert McLeman, Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfred Laurier. McLeman is one of several researchers behind the webpage.

The original goal was to see 100 rinks registered, which turned out to be a massive underestimate.

“It went kind of crazy on us,” said McLeman. “We had at least that many rinks in the first week alone, and by the end of last skating season we had nearly 1000 rinks reporting data.”

If the numbers aren’t enough to prove outdoor skating won’t become history just look at Canadian culture.

“It’s on the backs of our five dollar bills,” said McLeman. “It’s part of our cultural fabric.”

“Even if you only get a month or two to use it, it’s still worth it,” added Hass.

Trust Canucks to prove the spirit of a national pastime won’t be broken by something as unpredictable as the weather.

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