OTTAWA -- The 51st season of skating on the world's largest skating rink is underway.

The National Capital Commission opened a 2.4 kilometre section of the Rideau Canal Skateway at 8 a.m. Thursday.  The green flag is flying on the section of the skateway between the Pretoria Bridge and the Bank Street Bridge.

Skaters are asked to wear a mask while on the skateway to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and change rooms and food and beverage stands will be closed.

"The Rideau Canal Skateway team will continue working to open other sections of the world’s largest skating rink as soon as ice conditions are safe and weather permits," said a statement from the NCC.

Hundreds of skaters were on the ice early Thursday morning.

"I skated the whole length that they have out here and it was okay, but it was pretty rough," said one skater.

"Oh my gosh, I wanted to get out, I was anxious to get out. This is an incredible opportunity," said another skater.

The Jan. 28 opening of the Rideau Canal Skateway is one of the latest recent openings for the canal.  The skateway opened on Feb. 2 in 2002, and on Jan. 26 in 2007.

Last winter, the Rideau Canal Skateway opened on Jan. 18, with the season ending on Feb. 26.

COVID-19 Precautions

The National Capital Commission suggests residents access those NCC assets, including the Rideau Canal Skateway, closest to their home, within their province of residence. The NCC notes the suggestion to only visit the Rideau Canal Skateway if you live close-by is consistent with stay-at-home orders in Ontario, which recommends avoiding non-essential trips.

Here is a look at some of the measures in place for skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway:

  • Mask use recommended on the skateway
  • Hand-washing and use of on-site hand sanitizer recommended
  • Bi-directional double staircases
  • Yield to oncoming traffic on single staircases
  • 100 additional benches
  • Carry your belongings with you

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, change rooms and food and beverage stands will be closed along the Rideau Canal Skateway. Fire pits and picnic tables will be unavailable.

Washrooms will be open along the Rideau Canal Skateway, but capacity will be limited and masks will be required indoors.


As the Rideau Canal Skateway opened for the season, Ottawa Public Health tweeted a reminder to stay close to home when enjoying winter activities.

"The canal isn't the only place to lace up your skates – Ottawa has many local community rinks that offer public skating," said the health unit on Twitter.

A list of skating rinks open in Ottawa is available at