Skip to main content

Rideau Canal Skateway will not open for start of Winterlude, NCC says


The Rideau Canal Skateway will not be open for the first weekend of Winterlude, the National Capital Commission says.

Mild January temperatures and heavy snow have kept the world's largest skateway closed for skating this winter.

While crews have resumed operations in an attempt to open the Rideau Canal Skateway for its 53rd season, an NCC spokesperson tells CTV News Ottawa the canal will not open in time for the first weekend of Winterlude on Friday.

“The colder temperatures expected this week and over the weekend are good news for the Rideau Canal Skateway,” the NCC said in a statement.

“While the Skateway will not be open for the first weekend of February, our teams are working relentlessly to safely open a section of the Skateway, flooding the ice surface every evening.“

The Rideau Canal Skateway is a popular draw for Winterlude and winter tourist activities in Ottawa.

If the Rideau Canal Skateway does open this winter, it would be the latest opening date in the history of the skateway. The latest opening date is Feb. 2, 2002.

The NCC is reminding people to stay off the Rideau Canal Skateway until it's open for skating.

"The ice is still unstable on many sections of the canal, so it’s important to remind the public not to not venture on it," the NCC said.

The opening date for the Rideau Canal Skateway has been getting later over the years.

In the canal's first 26 seasons, the median opening date was Dec. 27. In the 26 years since the 1995-96 season, the median opening date has been Jan. 10. Across all 52 skating seasons, the median opening date is Jan. 1. 

Skaters at the nearby Rink of Dreams at Ottawa city hall said they are hoping the canal will open soon.

“Hopefully it will open soon,” said Sophia Reimer, lacing up for her first skate of the season.

“We were hoping it would be on the canal but sadly we're just here on this little patch of ice,” added her sister Leah.

 “I actually had hope it was opening next week, but now I kind of lost that hope,” said Andrea Suarez.

Winterlude organizers point out that although the canal won't be open, there's still a full slate of activities for the winter festival's opening weekend.

“We have the Canadian Ice Carving Championships underway Friday,” said Winterlude spokesperson Melanie Brault. “They'll have 20 hours and 15 large blocks of ice.  The theme is underwater creatures.”

This week's colder temperatures brings promise the canal will open this season. But for now, those hoping to hit the ice will have to find another alternative. 

“I'm happy there's options but the canal is way better: less crowded, more fun, a more authentic experience,” said Leah. 

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond and Jackie Perez Top Stories

Stay Connected