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Popular Ice Sports In Ontario

January 24th 2020

When winter comes, Canadians are prepared for it – at least those outside of Vancouver Island. This does not mean merely snow removal preparation. Some cities start that as soon as the snow ceases to fall. While some Canadians prefer the Great Indoors during the cold half of the year, others cannot wait to get outside. They embrace everything winter has to offer, including a bevy of ice and snow-related sports. This is certainly true of those who live in the province of Ontario.

Favorite Ice Sports: Hockey

When people think of ice, they tend to think of hockey. Hockey is Canada’s national sport and was invented by Canadians and first played in Montréal, Windsor (Nova Scotia) or Kingston (Ontario). However, the first recognizable game of ice hockey was set in Montreal, where, in 1875, James George Alwyn Creighton, a University of McGill student, was the first person to create a set of formal rules. After this, the sport began to take off with clubs springing up in cities and on campuses. In 1893, it made its way to Yale University.

Over the years, the sport became more organized. By 1908, the Ontario Professional League and the forerunner of the National Hockey League (the National Hockey Association), were turning the sport into a professional business. Incursions of the quintessential Canadian sport ventured to the United States in the 1920s resulting in the creation of such teams as the Boston Bruins (1924), Chicago Blackhawks (1926), and the New York Rangers (1926). At that point, almost all the players were Canadians.

The 1926 Chicago Blackhawks

Since these early days, ice hockey has grown in popularity. Ontarians play it from an early age both indoors and outdoors. Many boys dream of playing first for the Minors than for such well-known teams as the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadians. They want to play for Canada at the Junior Worlds or, better still, be on a team that wins the Stanley Cup. To get there, they practice at arenas in the early hours of the morning. They also play shinny outside on patches of ice or driveways.

Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL 2019-20 season: Montreal Canadiens

Female hockey players join them. They play in the same arenas, but their dreams differ. Rarely do they get to play for the NHL. Yet, they still dream big. They long to play for the World Cup or to represent their country at the Olympics.

Favorite Ice Sports: Curling and Figure Skating

For those who are not attracted by the essentially rough nature of hockey, two other ice sports are popular. These are figure skating and curling. While curling did not originate in Canada, coming over with Scottish immigrants to places such as Guelph, Toronto, and Cambridge. The passion for the sport is as great on Ontario curling rinks as it is in Scotland.

Curling

Originally played outdoors, curling is now an indoor ice sport. It may not be as glamorous or face-paced as ice hockey, but it does have its fair share of fanatic followers. Tournaments are played in Ontario, as well as nationally and internationally. It is also part of the Winter Olympics.

The same can be said for figure skating. Its fan-base is strong. Children of all genders take it up – some of them continuing on to compete in sessionals and nationals. Some even make it to the international stage taking part in ISU events, including the Worlds. The Olympics is also a major goal of many young figure skaters. What is also important is a change in attitude towards figure skating. Ice hockey was once considered masculine, figure skating more feminine. Today, with the increasingly challenging nature of the sport and the pairing of figure skaters with hockey players on Battle of the Blades, the barriers are, if not crumbling, exhibiting cracks of understanding.

Figure Skating

Winter Ice Sports In Ontario

The majority of children and youth do not compete in leagues or professionally. In Guelph Ontario, they skate on recreational rinks maintained by the City for just this purpose. Guelphites also skate on the rink in front of City Hall and even on certain sections of the Eramosa and Speed Rivers. The same occurs all across the province as children adults and youth embrace the challenges and pleasures that winter offers. Children play shinny/hockey or figure skate on ponds and other waterways. They join in family skates in arenas and in front of government cities. In Ottawa, residents, and visitors from all over the province, country, and the world, skate on the largest skating rink in the world – the Rideau Canal.

Rideau Canal