You haven’t really skated until you’ve skimmed across the surface of a frozen lake or river, avoiding bumps and cracks, crunching over snow or crackly ice, immersed in the silence of a forest that stands along the water’s edge – although there are plenty of sounds if you know how to listen. You can hear cold tree branches cracking, chickadees singing, the eerie thud of contracting ice. If you skate at night, you may hear owls, even wolves. This is Canada in wintertime, and one of the best ways to discover it is on a pair of skates.
In recent years there has been a shift toward outdoor skating and getting out of the arenas that feature prominently in every Canadian town and city. Many communities have built ice skating loops or trails, which have become very popular. These give non-hockey-playing skaters something more to do than circle a rink (although that’s fun, too).
The following slideshow features several beautiful ice skating trails, some big and some small, spread across the country. Most will open now in January until end of February/early March.