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Ottawa Celebrates 39th Annual Winterlude

Winterlude, Ottawa’s winter celebration, will run this year from February 3 through February 20. This is the 39th year that the Capital has hosted Winterlude.
One of the biggest appeals for Winterlude is the chance to skate the frozen Rideau Canal, the world’s largest and second longest skating rink. The canal is 202 kilometers long, or about 125 miles. During the winter, the section that passes through central Ottawa is cleared for skating. 7.8 kilometers, 4.8 miles is available to skate, which is equivalent to about 90 Olympic ice hockey rinks, per The Ottawa Citizen. According to the 2005 Guinness Book of World Records, the Canal is the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world. Along the canal, booths and shops are set up selling snacks and beverages. One famous snack that is sold is the Beaver Tail, a fried dough pastry, clearly named for its shape, which resembles a beaver’s tail. It can be sold with a variety of companions, including but not limited to, pizza sauce, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and Nutella.Another primary attraction of Winterlude is the Snowflake Kingdom, in which the Jacques-Cartier Park is turned into a massive snow park, complete with ice slides and snow sculptures. Additionally, in Confederation Park, the Crystal Garden becomes the site for the ice sculpture competition, ice lounge, and musical concerts. The Marion Dewar Plaza across the street boasts the Rink of Dreams, an ice-skating rink that hosts skating shows.

Another primary attraction of Winterlude is the Snowflake Kingdom, in which the Jacques-Cartier Park is turned into a massive snow park, complete with ice slides and snow sculptures. Additionally, in Confederation Park, the Crystal Garden becomes the site for the ice sculpture competition, ice lounge, and musical concerts. The Marion Dewar Plaza across the street boasts the Rink of Dreams, an ice-skating rink that hosts skating shows. The festival began in 1979, and the Department of Canadian Heritage runs it. It is one of Ottawa’s largest tourist draws. Long before

The festival began in 1979, and the Department of Canadian Heritage runs it. It is one of Ottawa’s largest tourist draws. Long before this though, residents of Ottawa had been using the canal as an impromptu skating surface. In the early 1970’s, the city of Ottawa was actually considering paving over the canal in order to construct an expressway, according to the book Urban Meltdown. This was never approved because of the federal government, who blocked the city from this measure. When Doug Fullerton was appointed chair of the National Capital Commission in 1970, he proposed creating the recreational corridor around the canal, including the winter skateway. The first cleared section of the canal was in 1971, a small section that saw 50,000 skaters the first weekend. NCC workers using brooms and shovels cleared this original section. The skateway now sees about one million visits a year, per The National Capital Commission. Crews maintain it 24/7 and the ice is resurfaced daily.The Outing Club is running a bus to Ottawa this weekend for Winterlude, leaving from their side lawn at 8:30 a.m. It is also common for independent groups of students to head up to Ottawa for the day and experience all that Winterlude has to offer. While the Canal is open to skaters for longer throughout the winter, as long as weather permits, the official celebration of Winterlude only lasts for the next two weekends. So, grab your passports and skates, Saints, and go experience the largest

The Outing Club is running a bus to Ottawa this weekend for Winterlude, leaving from their side lawn at 8:30 a.m. It is also common for independent groups of students to head up to Ottawa for the day and experience all that Winterlude has to offer. While the Canal is open to skaters for longer throughout the winter, as long as weather permits, the official celebration of Winterlude only lasts for the next two weekends. So, grab your passports and skates, Saints, and go experience the largest skateway in the world, courtesy of our neighbors to the north.

About the author

Jonathan Ten Eyck

Digital Editor