All of this cold weather is good for something: creating Peterborough, Ont.’s outdoor rinks.
The city boasts 23 outdoor rinks, (as of Jan. 20, the ice at Turner Park at 673 Chamberlain St. was not ready) which city councillor Lesley Parnell said are open for the winter.
“It is just a wonderful way to get outside,” she said. “We do know that getting outside for fresh air and exercise is so essential for our physical, spiritual and mental health.”
She added that when using the rinks, you are to follow Ontario’s health guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 protocols.
The bulk of the rinks, said Parnell, are looked after by community volunteers.
“They are a special breed of volunteer; a special wonder and we are very lucky to have them,” said Parnell. “I want to send every one of them a heartfelt thank you from everyone who can enjoy the outdoor rinks.”
Dan Burke is one of those volunteers. Now retired, he said he likes to help on the ice at King Edward Park. But he is no stranger to the area — he has been skating here for a while.
“Probably 60 years,” said Burke. “I just barely remember my dad and he was a pretty good skater and he would bring us over, I have three siblings and we still use the rink.”
“It seemed like we would spend the whole day here, which we probably did, and going home and you’d take your skates off, and you didn’t care if your feet were cold, but you’d take them off and your feet would hurt so bad trying to warm up,” he recalled.
He said creating and maintaining the outdoor rink is a true community effort. He said his son-in-law raised money to build boards and everyone chips in in some way to help.
“A number of people that took part in that and donated to the GoFundMe and then a lot of people will come by and help out and shovel and use the rink,” said Burke.
“I think it is important for a community and is something that is lacking in society these days. I think it is pretty important.”
Over at Inverlea Park, Meg Murray was also hitting the ice.
“We’re about to go for a skate,” said Murray. “It is my first skate for the season, so I am very excited.”
Murray is from Australia and learned to skate when she came to Canada two years ago — kind of like a rite of passage. Now, she said it is a way to enjoy the season.
“It is beautiful, lovely weather today,” she said. (Even enjoying herself at -15 C).
And people have been enjoying themselves on the rinks for decades. Check out these photos from Trent Valley Archives.
Along with the rinks throughout the city, Peterborough is also home to the canal at the iconic Lift Lock, which Peterborough Public Works maintains as a skating surface in the winter.
The ice there spans one kilometre beginning at the base of the city’s national historic site. You can check on conditions on the City of Peterborough website.
Back on the ice at King Edward, Burke said he enjoys helping with the ice and that keeping it in tip-top shape is half the fun. Grateful he can carry on the longstanding Canadian tradition.
“I think sometimes we think it has to be organized, it has to be all that. It really doesn’t,” said Burke.
“It doesn’t get any better than this I don’t think. A nice sunny day, maybe -15 and out with your friends and family and having fun.”