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Sports & Play

Outdoor ice skating in Toronto

Posted by Robyn Urback / January 27, 2012

Outdoor Ice Skating TorontoOutdoor ice skating in Toronto is one of those activities that makes urban-dwelling seem a little less metropolitan. That is, unless you opt for the often-overcrowded rink at Nathan Phillips Square or another overly saturated outdoor spot. For the most part, though, these rinks seem to connect us a little better bit nature; be it through a lakeside view, a nature-immersed trail, or the windburn we inevitably get from spending too much time outside. While Toronto's natural ice rinks offer the best back-to-nature experience, they are, of course, weather contingent. So when the winter is a mild one like we're having this year, it might be better to check out some of outdoor ice skating rinks, open throughout winter in Toronto.

Sherbourne Common
This rink offers a simply stunning view of the city, as well a rink guard (occasionally) with whom you can enjoy the scene. While official skating hours are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the rink is not fenced in, and thus, technically accessible at all hours. No rentals or changerooms—just washrooms.

Lake Devo
Ryerson students know it as the sometimes-functioning fountain and pond where Tim Hortons cups float astray in the summertime. Come winter, however, the pond is frozen over and the public can come skate from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Occasionally, you'll come across members of the Ryerson figure skating team practicing their axels, and members of Ryerson's freshman community practicing frozen funneling.

Colonel Sam Smith Park
Colonel Sam Smith Park is the only place in Toronto with an official ice skating trail. Though not great for shinny (at around 4.5m wide) the 250m trail has a bit of a respite feel to it (as it should, being in Etobicoke), with a washroom and changing area nearby.

Campbell Park
Tucked away in the Dupont and Lansdowne area, Campbell Park is a great place to hit up midday, when the rink is quite and you can work on your hockey skills. Come afternoon, things get busier with the local shinny crowd. They also have a hot chocolate stand and $2 skate rentals.

Toronto SkatingChristie Pits
Vintage swimming trunks are swapped salvage leather ice skates in the wintertime when the crowd shifts from the pool to Christie Pitts' outdoor rink. The rink has designated free skate times, as well as a shinny schedule for kids, youths, adults, avoiding that annoying puck/skate clash. Christie Pitts also has a pretty decent change area (with skate-friendly rubber floors).

Brick Works Ice Trail
While not an official City trail, the Brick Works' free ice trail is not one to overlook. Under old industrial rafters, the Brick Works trail is open weekends 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Skate rentals are available for $5 (or PWYC) and good food, of course, is available nearby at the farmers' market.

Kew Gardens
Like Christie Pitts, Kew Gardens' outdoor rink has designated times for free skate and shinny hockey. Though small, the change area actually has lockers for public use, meaning you don't have to worry about your boots sitting lonely by the side of the rink. Kew Gardens is one of the longest-open City rinks, available for use until March 11.

Trinity Bellwoods
Not exactly the place for a quiet, leisurely skate, but Trinity Bellwoods' rink does offer plenty of room for laps or a game of shinny. The fenced-in rink is one Toronto's few outdoor rinks that has designated shinny times for women's hockey, scheduled here this winter on Monday evenings. No rentals, but there is a nearby changing area.

High Park
High Park has two outdoor rink pads and its own zamboni onsite for regular maintenance. The rink is open as early at 9 a.m. on some days, and closed as late at 9:45 p.m., depending on whether free skate or shinny is on the roster. No rentals here either, though there is a changeroom for lacing up.

ShinnyDufferin Grove
Dufferin Grove is another spot for women's shinny and also one with two full-sized pads. This rinks is one of the best in Toronto in terms of amenities, with a $2 skate-lending program, a kitchen with fresh snacks, lockers, changerooms, organic coffee and hot chocolate, and (best of all) occasional live music.

Habourfront
Harbourfront skating is especially jolly during the holidays when it's drenched with music and cheer, though skating at the lakeside rink continues through the rest of the winter. Pleasure skating is free from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) with rentals available onsite and plenty of hot drinks and snacks. DJ skate night is held every Saturday night, testing our collective ability to grind while on blades.

Wallace Emerson
Wallace Emerson's double-pad rink is available for shinny and pleasure skates. One pad is left unfenced for the season, meaning skaters can take to the ice after the designated 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. close. The change area has skates and helmets to lend out for a nominal cost, as well as a snack bar and some books and games.

College Park
Right in the middle of all the action and unfenced — not great from nearby condo-dwellers, but idea for those keen on midnight skates. The rink at College Park is designated for pleasure skating only (though occasionally the young and restless will tote along a puck), and perhaps for that reason, often seems to be in pretty good condition. Changerooms and lockers onsite, though no rentals.

For a full list of City-owned ice rinks in Toronto, check out this website.

Note: This list was originally compiled in 2010, but was in need of an update due to new rink opening since then. We've purposely kept most of the archived comments here because we believe they (mostly) add value to this topic. If you don't want to have to wade through all of them, simply hit the "sort by newest first" link at the top of the thread.

Photos by Jackman Chiu, Chewie2008, and hogtown_blues.

Discussion

41 Comments

shhhhhh / January 4, 2010 at 10:20 am
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While the Barbara Ann Scott Rink at College Park can be accessed 24 hours, please be respectful of the people that live in the apartments beside it. I can hear you playing shinny at 2am, with my windows shut!
ratatata / January 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm
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Thanks. this was very helpful. =)
Sean / January 4, 2010 at 09:09 pm
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Our outdoor rinks are Toronto's winter jewels, and Dufferin Grove is simply one of the most vibrant public spaces in the city. Over the past two years Wallace-Emerson and Campbell Park have really caught on and get busier and busier. Truly the best thing about winter in the city.
Lou replying to a comment from Skater / January 4, 2010 at 09:35 pm
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Actually many of TO City rinks have the double pads as Duf Grove : Ramsden(Rosedale STN), Campbell(W of Lansdowne near Wallace), One @ St Clair/Lansdowne, Scadding (Dundas/Bathurst),Hodgson (MtPleasant/Davisville)and others. Duf Grove is great to pleasure sk8 on Sundays as the two pads are linked. Also great shinny games can be had in evenings. Ice is well maintained at it was one of few to still open in November(as they ALL used to do).
chephy / January 5, 2010 at 12:14 am
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"From what I understand, some of these ‘open’ rinks will soon be fenced in."

Seriously? What a shame! Oh, we *MUST* regulate everything and shut out any unsupervised activity. Thou must only skate under the watchful eye of a municipal employee! *sigh*

But then, if that means some innocent people are more likely to get a good night's sleep since the fences will put a stop to 2 a.m. shinny, maybe that's a good thing. Too bad people can't just have a modicum of respect on their own, and refrain from noise-making in residential neighbourhoods at night...
iSkyscraper / January 5, 2010 at 12:49 am
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While New York is no Toronto (public outdoor rinks are almost non-existent), the city has made great strides in opening a number of private outdoor rinks that thrill the tourists and boost civic pride. Toronto would do well to add a rink like Bryant Park that offers free admission (rentals are $12), has a terrific lounge space that (good for dates), and is surrounded by a cute set of kiosks selling gifts and snacks (fun for the non-skaters). It's more or less the ideal for urban skating and I would definitely consider something like this as a model if City Hall's rink/plaza is ever renovated.
ayl / January 5, 2010 at 01:03 am
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I love seeing that 1 person playing hockey in the morning at the College Park rink. Makes my day. Or that person that skates around holding a coffee and other hand in the pocket.
Rick / November 21, 2010 at 07:02 pm
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Does anyone remember the old Swiss Chalet skating rink in scarborough and if so are there any pictures of the facility on line. Was in operation until 1967 i believe
Barb / December 4, 2010 at 02:16 am
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Do most city rinks offer skate rentals? anyone?
Rachel / December 19, 2010 at 01:56 pm
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The Ryerson rink on "Lake Devo" *is* open!
J.T. replying to a comment from shhhhhh / January 27, 2012 at 09:51 am
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Boo hoo. I agree with Lou; if you can't deal with the noise that comes with living in the downtown core - there's always the 'burbs. Cities are noisy; deal with it. Winter is dismal enough - and if 2am shinny is what brings joy to peoples lives try not to crush that joy.
alan / January 27, 2012 at 10:19 am
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a photography group i belong to were on a walk and passed sherbourne common and were taking photos...the guard there is also the "photography police" as he cautioned us that no photos were allowed...
Vic / January 27, 2012 at 10:39 am
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Funny that the article doesn't mention the skating rink at Campbell Park, but includes a picture of it (the one with the GO train going by).
the lemur / January 27, 2012 at 10:50 am
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It's Christie Pits, with one T.
Al replying to a comment from Barb / January 27, 2012 at 11:04 am
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City Hall and Harbourfront do skate rentals. Most of the others do not. I believe the Brickworks, Dufferin Grove and NYCC have rentals too.
Derek replying to a comment from Vic / January 27, 2012 at 11:28 am
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Ah, thanks for pointing that out. That entry was eaten by some incomplete html code (now fixed).
John R / January 27, 2012 at 11:53 am
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A little gem of a rink --Prince of Wales -- at the bottom of 3rd st in Etobicoke south of the Lakeshore It's one of those tennis courts converted into a rink in the winter but it sits right on the lake and you can look across to the downtown Skyline. There are dedicated shinny and free skate times.
LEC / January 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm
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The skating trail at Colonel Sam Smith Park is great! So much nicer than skating around in ovals. It's worth the drive to Etobicoke!
J.King / January 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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You've missed a rink... which I don't mind because no one is ever there and it's a two minute walk from my place. Fantastic for passing a puck around!
S / January 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm
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One of the city's best kept secrets is Greenwood Park. TWO skating rinks (one for shinny and one for pleasure) - both maintained pretty well. Scheduled shinny is great and most people stick to the sched. Women's shinny WED night 8-10 and Sat morn 10-12. Awesome.
lola / January 27, 2012 at 03:04 pm
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Cedararena in Markham - best outdoor rink anywhere. Right out a Norman Rockwell painting (yeah, I know its not technically Toronto)
Andrea T. replying to a comment from LEC / January 27, 2012 at 04:07 pm
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I second this!

Also, there's a rink at Wychwood Barns that neighbours use for hockey. If you live in the neighbourhood, check it out.
-Though I'm not sure if it's open for the season yet.
Bob replying to a comment from alan / January 27, 2012 at 07:12 pm
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I've never heard of anyone being denied taking photos in a public park (Unless it's posted). If you're in a public place and not on private property, there should be no reason this person should be asking you to stop taking photos (Unless your taking wedding photos which require a license).. If they persist in preventing you, I'd make sure to ask what his name was and what security company he works for and file a complaint. I"m sure it would really look good for Toronto's Tourism when people visiting this city are denied photo opportunities..
Leigh / February 6, 2012 at 06:16 pm
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I'm glad you updated this post! I've undertaken my Great Skate project to try to skate at a different rink each weekend. It's great to have tips and reviews to know which rinks I should put on the top of my list.
Allison / December 28, 2012 at 12:22 am
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I'm looking for a rink I can hit up as early as 6AM to get a good power skate in b4 work, any ideas? I'm in the west end.
sharon / January 13, 2013 at 09:20 pm
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Hi,
Do you know where can I do an Outdoor ice skating?
I know some places you'll be able to read about
www.allfamilytravels.com
Thanks
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Stacee Prows / November 22, 2013 at 01:25 pm
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Jane / January 12, 2014 at 10:37 am
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Does it have to be qualified as 'ice' skating? Kinda bugs me.
Lee Eustace replying to a comment from Rick / March 20, 2014 at 03:54 am
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yes, I do remember it. Fantastic place. I was about 4 years old when my family went there. Probably my earliest childhood memory was skating there. I'd love to see any photos from there.
Paul Ewins / March 31, 2014 at 07:11 am
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Hi all,

I have flights booked from London to Washington for New Years hopefully to catch the classic, My son and I are then looking to drive up to Toronto for a few days. In the UK were brought up never to skate on ponds etc...so Im 40 this year and have never skated or played hockey outside ! can anyone recommend 1 or 2 top places to skate on lake, pond river...I want to loose my virginity in Toronto :-) Its it easy to buy a cheap stick etc out there so we only have to bring our skates ?
Roy Allison replying to a comment from Rick / June 17, 2014 at 11:06 pm
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Rick i think you might be refering to the Little switzerland outdoor rink east of markham rd. between eglinton and lawerance down in a vally, family skating, saw my first pair of speed skates there.
Florence Laundry was Steadman / July 5, 2014 at 01:04 am
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Someone was asking about the old Scarborough Skating Rink - later known as Little Switzerland on Markham Road, maybe about a mile or so north of Kingston Road. I skated there for many years around 1943-4 to late 1950s. Probably last time would be when visiting (had moved to BC) 1963 or 4 - what a thrill it was to see it again. They played great music for skating. Wonderful memories.
Lorna / July 8, 2014 at 11:56 pm
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Thank you!
Don Heggie replying to a comment from Florence Laundry was Steadman / July 20, 2014 at 05:43 pm
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I skated many times at Little Switzerland, the beautiful natural ice rink on Markham Rd. Scarborough in the late 40's and early 50's. If anyone has photos of it, I would just love to see them. It was on the east side of Markham Rd. north of
Eglinton Ave. in a valley adjacent to Scarboro Golf Club.
Florence Laundry was Steadman / July 20, 2014 at 10:37 pm
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Sorry Don Heggie, I don't remember ever seeing anyone with a camera while skating out there. What a pity. I'd love to see pictures of it, and to show my kids, they've heard all about it. I wonder if anyone from the family who ran it would have any pictures - sure would be great to see. I know there was one son, the owner would occasionally ask all skaters to clear the rink so that he and 2 or 3 others could get out there on speed skates, they were very good, interesting to watch.
Thanks for responding - maybe someone else will see this - even have a picture. Perhaps the owners took pictures of the speed skaters, would be interesting to see. If I hear anything, I'll post it here.
Florence Laundry was Steadman / July 20, 2014 at 11:39 pm
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PS, was just talking to my brother, he remembered the name of the owner, was Mr. & Mrs. Edmund, the son was Bruce. Perhaps we might even hear from him, or someone who knows him.

Don Heggie / July 22, 2014 at 06:06 pm
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Florence, your brother was right on with the owner's name. I remember ofter phoning the Edmunds to see if the rink would be open on a mild night. Their son Bruce used to sometimes drive the tractor to clear the snow from the ice. They used to flood the rink with water from Highland Creek, which separated the
rink from Scarboro Golf Club. I sure hope someone reads these blogs who has photos of that beautiful place. It was like wonderland with all the coloured lights on the trees.
Kaylee replying to a comment from Paul Ewins / August 28, 2014 at 01:56 pm
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Paul, just realized no one responed to you, maybe too late, but thought I would give it a shot! Harbourfront Skating rink has skate rentals. It is a little manmade pond right off of lake ontario, with a great view of the CN tower in the back ground! Very "Canadian"! Check out the link in the article above. No hockey allowed though, just skating. You could always pick up a pair of skates and some sticks at Canadian Tire (one downtown at Bay and Dundas) and go play some shinny in one of the parks. Hope you enjoy your trip!
Kaylee replying to a comment from Paul Ewins / August 28, 2014 at 01:57 pm
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Paul, just realized no one responed to you, maybe too late, but thought I would give it a shot! Harbourfront Skating rink has skate rentals. It is a little manmade pond right off of lake ontario, with a great view of the CN tower in the back ground! Very "Canadian"! Check out the link in the article above. No hockey allowed though, just skating. You could always pick up a pair of skates and some sticks at Canadian Tire (one downtown at Bay and Dundas) and go play some shinny in one of the parks. Hope you enjoy your trip!
Learn to Skate Toronto / October 31, 2014 at 11:44 pm
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If you are looking for learn to skate lessons here is a website that I found that offers skating lessons at various rinks in the Toronto area. Here is the link:
http://www.learntoskatetoronto.ca/

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