10 Cool Facts about the Rideau Canal Skateway

The Rideau Canal Skateway is an iconic Canadian Landmark. Each winter a section of the 202 kilometre canal, which connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River, is transformed into a massive ice rink. A few years ago, we had the opportunity to skate the 7.8 kilometres of frozen canal and it was such a fun and unique experience. If you’re currently in Ottawa or planning a future winter getaway in the Canadian capital, we highly recommend bundling up, lacing up a pair of skates and hitting the ice.


As you plan your adventure, check out these cool and interesting facts about the Rideau Canal Skateway:


  • The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


  • The Canal was originally constructed for military purposes in the 19th century to help Britain defend the Colony of Canada against the United States. 


  • It is the only North American canal built during that time that is still operational today.


  • It was once considered an eyesore and there was talk of paving it and turning it into an expressway.


  • In the early 1970s, the National Capital Commission proposed turning the frozen canal into an ice rink and the skateway we know it as today was born. 


  • It’s the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world. 


  • The skating surface is the same size as 90 Olympic-size hockey rinks. 


  • The ice must be 25-30cm (10-12 inches) thick for skaters to be allowed on it.


  • It usually takes about two weeks of consecutively cold temperatures (-15°C or colder) for the ice to achieve the necessary thickness. 


  • The average number of skating days per year is 50, but the record goes to the winter of 1971-1972 with 95 days. The shortest season was only 26 days in 2000-2001.


Did any of these facts surprise you?


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