All photos by Kristin Foster.
After a blur of relatives, feasts, and gift wrap, some of us have returned to the confines of the office for peace and quiet while others are on the couch. Welcome to the Holiday Hangover! Torontoist told you what was going on for Christmas Day, now we’ve found a great way of avoiding Boxing Week in the comfort of your own neighbourhood.
With 49 outdoor rinks maintained by the city, all you need is a pair of skates (or a few bucks) and some friends to have a great afternoon. Torontoist went for a stroll recently and visited a few rinks in the downtown area.
Nathan Phillips Square
Undoubtedly the crown jewel, this rink is one of the most popular in the city and many were shocked this fall when the Cavalcade of Lights was threatened by funding restrictions. Thanks to a big corporate donation, however, the rink lives on. People of all ages and sizes enjoy the atmosphere and buzz from its neighbours, the Eaton Centre and Queen West shopping district. Whether on the ice or just watching the crowd, being at the City Hall rink around the holidays is a lot of fun. Skate rentals are $9 for adults and $7 for kids. You can even get your own sharpened for $5. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In the summertime it is a skate park populated by boys of all ages on skateboards, rollerblades and BMX bikes. In the wintertime, just north of the bustle of Queen West, this Bathurst Street rink is the site of an almost-never-ending game of shinny and has an adjacent rink where pint-sized community members are often seen practicing their slapshots. This space injects life into the stretch of Bathurst Street between Dundas and Queen. There’s no skate shop here but there is a change room and a Tim Hortons nearby for a post-game hot chocolate.
Of the three rinks here this one was the quietest, probably because it is tucked at the north end of Trinity Bellwoods Park near Gore Vale Avenue and does not face a major street—making it prime family skating space. With Christmas lights twinkling away in the background and the sounds of streetcars and sirens far off in the distance, this rink was like a little haven to the handful of men warming up for some evening shinny. This would be a wonderful place to go before heading to Dundas or Queen for a late brunch.
The city has a basic site with information about the rinks and a hotline number. CELOS (the Centre for Local Research into Public Space) have built their own extensive website dedicated to Toronto’s gems. CELOS’ site has everything you could possibly want to know about these rinks and if they don’t, they know who you should call. Although the design leaves something to be desired, they are obviously passionate about the rinks, culture, and community. Here’s a map of Toronto’s rinks. Find the one closest to you, lace up, and have fun!