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More of the Rideau Canal opens for skating

Staff writers
January 23, 2013 — The Rideau Canal Skateway is a popular winter attraction and most of the skateway is now open for business.

Canadians eager to lace up their skates
Canadians eager to lace up their skates

The National Capital Commission (NCC) announced early Wednesday that nearly six kilometres of the Rideau Canal Skateway is now open. 

Just over two kilometres of the skateway opened on January 18, which launched the skating season for the year. 

"The Rideau Canal Skateway is 7.8 kilometres of skating and is a world heritage site," says Marc Corriveau with the NCC. "In 2005, it made it in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest skating rink in the world." 

Last year, fluctuating temperatures and rain in January prevented the ice from solidifying and resulted in a delayed skating season. 

Officials say the ice thickness must be at least 30 cm (12 inches) to safely support skaters.

Rideau Canal draws in about one million people each year
Rideau Canal draws in about one million people each year

"The average skating season is typically 50 days," says Corriveau. "But back in 1971-72 we had 95 days of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway."

In contrast, the shortest season was the mild winter of 2001-2002 with only 26 days available to hit the ice.

"The magic began way back in '71. We had a chairman who had this dream who said 'let's turn this Rideau Canal into a skating facility,'" says Corriveau. 

And now that dream has turned into one of the biggest winter attractions in Ottawa.

On average, 17,000 people skate on the canal each day and the famous stretch of ice draws about one million visits every year.

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