Family Life


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5 Awesome Places to Take Your Family Skating in Canada

Canada has some of the best skating rinks and trails in the world (obviously! We’re Canadian!). We’ve rounded up five of the coolest destinations to lace up, coast to coast.

I learned to skate when I was two years old. There are pictures of me, wearing four-bladed bobskates, inching along the icy sidewalk outside of the house my mom and dad still live in, toward my dad. He was a semi-professional hockey player, so my learning to skate was a given. (He’s still amazing on skates now, at age 69!)

Over the years, skating became my respite from the world. I can remember lacing up and doing lap after lap at the neighbourhood rink on bad days in high school; I found basically the only public rink in Dublin when I went to Ireland on exchange in university; and the winter my marriage fell apart, I spent all of the nights I didn’t have my kids at an outdoor rink near my house (I even played shinny hockey a couple of times!).

Knowing this, it’s probably no surprise that I’ve wanted to skate the Arrowhead Provincial Park trail near Huntsville, Ontario, for years and years. There were always excuses to not go—my kids were too small, it was too mild, it was too cold, it was too far—but when the calendar flipped to 2022, I decided that this was the year.

And let me tell you, it was worth all of the effort. Recently named one of the most stunning natural ice skating rinks around the world by Travel + Leisure magazine, it’s 1.3 kilometres of gorgeous, in-forest trail. And if you can score a pass to go during the limited-run Fire & Ice evening event, when the entire trail is lit by tiki torches…it pretty much takes your breath away. I’ve never seen stars like that.

This trip inspired me to round up a handful of other incredible skating experiences for the whole family, from coast to coast. And yes, you can bet I plan to eventually hit them all.

Note: Weather conditions impact the operation of all outdoor skating trails and rinks. Be sure to check the website of your desired skating experience before heading out, to avoid disappointment.

Arrowhead Provincial Park Skating Trail
451 Arrowhead Park Rd, Huntsville, ON;

The groomed skating trail is maintained daily during skating season. It’s open every day, but Fire & Ice events are limited to Friday and Saturday evenings until the end of February, weather permitting. You must purchase a pass to access the trail—either a day pass for day use, or a combined day and evening pass for Fire & Ice access. Capacity is limited, so book early.

I live in Toronto, so it would have been a bit of a trek to go there and back in a day. I stayed the night at 3 Pines Lodge in nearby Port Sydney, Ontario. The renovated 1920s hunting lodge, located about 15 to 20 minutes away from Arrowhead, is cozy after an evening of skating and is well-priced for families.

Nestawaya River Skating Trail
River Walk, Winnipeg, MB;

Presented by The Winnipeg Foundation, this trail is accessed from The Forks, which is a mixed use gathering place at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. (It has, in fact, been a meeting place for more than 6,000 years, as The Forks is where area Indigenous peoples traded, followed by fur traders, Scottish settlers, railway pioneers and thousands of immigrants.) The length varies between five and 10 kilometres each year, depending on ice conditions; it’s running approximately six kilometres this season.

Lake Windermere Whiteway
Invermere, BC;

If you’re after an epic, stretch-your-lakes skate, the Lake Windermere Whiteway should be added to your bucket list: This trail holds the Guinness World Record for the longest naturally-frozen skating path at more than 30 kilometres in length. The gorgeous frozen terrain, maintained by the Toby Creek Ski Club, connects Inveremere and Windermere, British Columbia. Skaters can hop on the trail at three different entry points along the way.

Rideau Canal Skateway
Ottawa, ON;

This one might seem obvious but it’s a must-do if you’re anywhere near the nation’s capital in the winter. I’ve skated sections of this one a few times and it never gets old. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the skateway has been running for 52 years, so you’re basically gliding through living history with this one.

Echo Valley Provincial Park Skate the Park
SK-210, Fort Qu’Appelle, SK;

I’m all over this pick for the add-ons: Lace up and skate through two kilometres of Aspen campground, and then skate over to one of the campfires to warm up. With this experience, though, you can also pick up winter-themed park activity kits and fuel up at Smokehouse Takeout Eatery offered by the Echo Ridge Golf Course. Smoked beef sammies, pulled pork, chili, mac and cheese, and more, plus s’mores kits for use on those aforementioned fire pits! I don’t need any more convincing, and I doubt your kids will either.

a man carrying two children

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