skating peterborough lift lock

You can skate on a frozen canal north of Toronto this winter

A cold start to winter has been a boon for natural skating surfaces in Toronto and beyond. During the most frigid days, people have been out on Grenadier Pond and even the city's inner harbour. Further afield, Arrowhead Park's skating trail has already been a wildly popular destination. 

The most alluring skating experience near Toronto, however, might just be found in Peterborough, Ontario on the canal beneath the mighty lift lock. When it freezes over, it becomes one of the most scenic and well maintained natural ice surfaces in the province. 

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Unlike Grenadier Pond, this section of the Trent River system is regularly flooded by city staff to create what can be near perfect skating conditions in the absence of snow. There's also a green/red flag program to indicate whether or not the ice is safe to skate. 

The canal bore a green flag early this year, but warmer temperatures this week have temporarily put skating on hold. Another blast of arctic air this weekend is expected to bring the return of safe conditions. 

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Surely one of the main highlights of skating here is the presence of the lift lock itself. First built in 1904, Lock 21 is one of the most imposing on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Designated a national historic site, it's a beautiful feat of engineering that's incredible to skate underneath.  

Variable winter temperatures mean that the Peterborough canal isn't open for skating every day of the winter, but in a cold year, there are plenty of weekends when it serves as an amazing day trip from Toronto.

Lead photo by

@dana_hoit


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