Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Magical skating moment

Read more articles by

In medieval European chronicles, the authors would make a special note of years in which the local river froze over, which might happen once a decade (depending on where you were, of course). Inevitably, an impromptu festival happened — everyone went out on the ice, sliding, skating, playing games, even lighting bonfires (which was perhaps not entirely wise). It was a rare and special event.

A few years ago, during the last deep freeze we experienced in Toronto, some friends and I walked into High Park one night and found ourselves at an apparently frozen Grenadier Pond. After a brief hesitation, we walked out on the ice and experienced a really magical moment. We realized the freeze had created one of the largest completely open spaces in Toronto. We did some serious sliding along the ice, and hollered at each other from long distances that you rarely experience uninterrupted in the city.

Well, it looks like Grenadier Pond has frozen over again. It used to be that the City of Toronto would test the ice and open it up for skating on the occasional years when it froze over sufficiently, but that fell by the wayside after the post-amalgamation cutbacks. Now new Parks and Environment committee chair Paula Fletcher wants the City to open up the pond again — there’s a good article about it in the National Post today. Good for her. Toronto should enjoy its rare moment of winter magic.

Grenadier Pond photo by Bouke Salverda



  1. Around the same time you were making this post, I was skating on the lagoon on Toronto Island! There’s a whole “rink” that’s been shovelled clear of snow in preparation for the upcoming Mallard Cup hockey tournament on Sunday. Probably not so special to Islanders but being from Victoria, I’ve never skated on a naturally frozen lake or river before… magical is the right word for it.

  2. How big is this lagoon rink and will it be shovelled in the future ? I would love to skate on it.

  3. The residents of 48 Abell have shoveled a small rink in the ol’ BohEm/West Side Lofts backyard

  4. That is a lovely story, and I do hope the city takes the steps to ensure the pond is safe.

    While it doesn’t bother me excessively, the phrase “provided … by God” did jump out at me, instinctively, and gave me pause.

  5. Anyone know anything about skating on the Toronto Islands?

  6. If you want to skate on Toronto Island, simply take the ferry & bring yr skates. The “big rink” is in front of the fire hall; there’s a smaller one on Ward’s island on the soccer/baseball field.

  7. Sounds good, but I was thinking of how safe, or cleared, are the canals between the islands: lake ice.

  8. This story gave me pause to think that we should take the time to appreciate such rare winter moments, before a time comes when they might disappear altogether.

    (Sorry if I harshed the mellow.)