Since the winter of 1971, the National Capital Commission has maintained the ice surface of the Rideau Canal making it into the longest skating rink in the world. The 7.8-kilometre stretch of “Skateway” winds through downtown Ottawa and handles an average of one million skaters per season. It’s a great way to see some of Ottawa’s attractions, or quickly commute to work or school. The Skateway is equivalent to over 100 hockey rinks end-to-end, is accessed by almost 40 stairs along its length.
The Rideau Canal Skateway has become a favourite pastime of locals as well as winter visitors, especially during Ottawa’s winter festival, Winterlude (first three weekends of February). Services at various points along the canal include heated shelters, rest areas, change rooms, skate rentals, washrooms, picnic tables and fire pits during Winterlude. You can enjoy a delicious Beaver Tail from one of the kiosks on the canal in the centre of downtown Skate patrollers trained in first aid and CPR who travel the length of the Canal ensuring the safety of canal users (3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends).
The season sometime around Christmas until early March and is open daily, weather permitting. A red flag flying over the canal means it is closed to skating; a yellow flag means the conditions are fair to good and a green flag means very good to excellent. For ice conditions, call (613) 239-5234 (recorded message is updated daily at 9 a.m.) or toll-free 1-800-465-1867.
Skating on the Canal is free however, donations for its upkeep are welcome.
Dogs, bicycles and hockey sticks are not allowed on the Skateway.