A Canadian Tradition

Once upon a time,  where ice and snow blankets the land for months on end,  I learned to skate.  Since I was only three years old, I needed a little help. Dad was probably saying, “uncross your skates Boomdee”, Ha!  Look, my brother Kenny had already mastered standing on our icy back yard rink, no wonder I looked up to him. Hey let’s face it, it wasn’t easy to do much of anything in those old snowsuits.

So began a life long love affair with my skates. Dad made an outdoor rink in our yard every year.  When we weren’t in our yard skating or playing hockey, we were down at the community rink with friends.  Back in the day, neighbourhood dads took weekly turns flooding the local community rink.  I actually remember putting my skates on at home and walking the two short blocks to the community rink to meet friends. It was better than putting on cold boots later. Unfortunately, you won’t see too many outdoor rinks much anymore.

Outdoor ice rinks have been replaced by giant arena’s. Most kids get a ride to their hockey game in the family SUV.  Hockey in your backyard is a distant memory. Is it because a lot of neighbors don’t know each other now? Surely winter’s aren’t any colder?

Living at a lake for 25 years made it easy. My neighbor would make a rink for his kids out on the lake and we’d show up to enjoy it. Heck of a deal.   We tried to ‘pay our dues’ by doing the odd bit of shoveling, so it was great exercise too.  Daddy also grew up by a lake, so as Oprah might say, “that’s a full circle moment”.  Hockey and Canadian winters pretty much go hand in hand.

As you may have heard, the elite athletes that comprise the NHL and their owners will not be gracing us with their presence any time soon.  What happened to the ‘love of the game’ attitude I grew up with?  It’s turned into a political war of ‘who’s pockets will be lined with the most money’.  I haven’t been to a Oilers game in years, I think a ‘$200 night out‘ is a bit much.  The fans they still have are losing patience with the whole thing.

Photo Credit: Free Download NHL.com

Maybe their disappointed fans should skip buying those expensive season tickets and spend their hard-earned money elsewhere?  Hockey  is just another corporate ‘Big Business’ these days. I miss the way it used to be, a Canadian tradition.

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22 thoughts on “A Canadian Tradition

  1. I love the photos and your memories 🙂
    I, too remember skating at a small outdoor rink during Christmas vacation from school.
    It is long gone; torn down to make way for a huge indoor arena located on the outskirts of town which requires a motorized vehicle to get there!
    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Thanks for commenting Midcenturygal, your story is a familiar one in so many communities. I guess in some cases, it’s not cold enough over the winter anymore to have outdoor rinks. Who knows, we might be in the same boat soon. Freezing temps last week, now +6 C this week. We kids were so much more independent back then. No cell phones, gone in the morning out the door and parents saw you ‘when’ you got home. There’s an outdoor rink not too far from where we live, so I’ll drop some pictures here one day.


    1. You know what they say, ‘when in Rome’. I had three brothers and they all played hockey, so I had to go with the flow. You could hide-out in the snow and no one would even see you, just your nose and eyes would show. Thank you for your message!


  2. We were just talking about the San Jose Sharks this afternoon. (I know, crazy to have an ice hockey team in an arid climate, but so it goes). People here are huge fans, but Mike says it may be January before they settle all the financial bickering. Crazy!

    It’s sad to see these traditions die. Ironically, my sister and I learned to skate in California, not Canada. We skated with a friend at an indoor link in Belmont.

    I love the old black and white pics, Boomdee. Great post!


    1. Thanks Alys, it really does surprise me when there’s a professional hockey team in some of the really southern locals. When it’s so nice out, every day, there’s a million and one other things to do ‘outside’. We don’t really watch any sports in our household…Jim will watch golf at times, I might tune in, but not usually. There’s a big deal going on in Edmonton right now. A multi-millionaire wants to have a new arena built downtown for the Oilers, with a large contribution of Taxpayer funding and Tax concessions….he’s treatened to move the franchise…..I think, “What nerve”, you aren’t even on the ice this year. We see the nightly jam of traffic now and think what a nightmare to bring 16,000 people downtown…it’ll be gridlock.


      1. It’s all about chasing the almighty dollar, isn’t it?

        I don’t have the “sports gene” at all and neither do our boys. Mac was a gymnast for several years but he never went out for ball sports. He was so good at it too (strong, powerful and fearless!) but as he got older, there were fewer options for him to continue to do it recreationally. The teams are competitive, and IMO, a lot of pressure on young kids. We just aren’t that family.

        Mike likes to watch his college football team and national soccer.


        1. I think we’ve all been to a youth sports event where some crazy parent screams his brains out and berates his child and anyone elses. They’re like grown up bullies. It’s great to be active but not when it includes unrealistic pressures.


  3. with two boys in hockey I can tell you that it drives me nuts!!!! the expense, the time, the travel.
    Ice rinks outside are difficult to have these days, it really isn’t cold enough anymore even in canada. I thought about putting one in last year and did some research. You can buy something that cools the ice for you now (like wow!). We wait for the pond to freeze behind our house, but it is a short window for skating. Cute pics! I love skating.


    1. Thanks Sunshine, I here a lot of hockey moms and dads saying that same thing….the driving is nuts. Seems games are allllll over the city and out of town. The amount of money my brother spent on gas and equipment is astonishing, yet you need to culture their interests in something physical right. Some kids get very little exercise. I agree on the weather. Last year, in the city anyways, we hardly had much snow. Unpredictable at best. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂


    1. Thanks Susan, and thanks for all your visits. I guess it’s one of the perks of freezing temps. Winter is what you make of it. It’s too long to sit indoors and pout. 🙂


  4. I would love to learn how to ice skate. I can roller skate and roller blade like greased lightning, but when I put on a pair of ice skates – all I do is fall on my behind!


    1. Wow, roller skating can’t be easy, I’d think you’d be an iceskating star. I guess it’s just a matter of practice. I’d actually like a new pair of skates, mine are from when I was 14. Thanks for coming on by! 🙂


      1. By the way, check your email in-box as I emailed you a link over the weekend that you need to check out! It is the coolest thing I have ever found, and when you are a crafter – you will love it! ~Val~


  5. I love your childhood stories… I look back at my very happy childhood and some of the traditions, especially those based around communties, that just don’t happen now.
    I agree that it’s such a shame when national treasures become vehicles for profiteering… when I think of Canada I always think of ice hockey and baseball (and lakes, mounties and maple leaves!!).
    Great photos x


    1. Thank you for all you kind messages PJ, I appreciate your visits so much.
      We always seemed to be outside as kids and winter was no different. Dad would often pile us all in the car to drive out to a pond somewhere. We got a kick watching the muskrats just under the ice. Is it very common in the UK?


      1. It’s not common over here for the general population, unfortunately, but there are some ice hockey teams in the bigger cities and I hope to go and watch a game soon. Our winters aren’t as cold or long as yours so our main past time was sledging!
        Climate change must really be having an effect as there are lots of really old paintings showing people skating on the Thames…. it’s rare for London to have it so cold these days!


        1. I truly believe climate change has definitely had a huge effect. We see it everyday with these storms that are larger than ever recorded and record draughts. Another story about the Arctic Ice last week…it’s dismal really. The nay-sayers may have their theories, but we’ll all be in the same boat at some point, and it won’t matter who was right. Carpe diem.


  6. Reminds me that I need to read Hans Brinker (The Silver Skates). I had always read an abridged version when a kid and ran across a paperback of the full book at the library book sale and picked it up. It will make for a good winter book. :-).


    1. Thats an oldie but goodie. My dad read that to us kids before bed when we were little. Wish I still had that book. Funny how the names in the book are similar to another story….the kids in the forrest…a gingerbread house. Happy reading and thanks for your message!


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