Ice Skating on the worlds longest rink, the Rideau Canal.


It was a public holiday in Ontario on Monday so we took advantage of the long weekend and went on a road trip to Ottawa (about 4 1/2 hours from Toronto).

I must have been asked several times during the week, “What time are we leaving”, and other similar questions about the trip over and over and over again.   I came up with the idea of doing a road trip itinerary so I could just say “refer to your itinerary”.   I printed them off and distributed a copy each to The Canadian and 8-year-old.  Neither of them read it and multiple times I got asked, “where are we staying” and “what time are we leaving”.

The Canadian is what I would call a pain in the ass “nervous” traveller.  If we are flying domestically he insists on arriving at the airport several hours before departure.  On the flip side,  I’m ok with arriving at the time quoted by the airline.  If we are leaving on an early morning flight he sets a bedside alarm, his mobile phone alarm, my mobile phone alarm, the 8-year-olds alarm clock, the oven alarm and any other alarm he can find in the house.   Over the years,  it has become a bit of a joke but not so the ONE time I made us miss a flight 8 years ago.  He still brings it up EVERY single time we step foot in an airport.  Sheesh … 8 years!!!!

Due to his talent with alarm clocks The Canadian was given the important task of getting us away on time to avoid traffic.  It turned out the alarm clock/s would not be necessary as the fire alarm in our building went off not once but twice during the night with the fire brigade turning up both times.  We have since found out that due to the -29 temperatures in Toronto that night that a sprinkler system pipe had frozen and activated the alarms.

With the car packed and with very little sleep, we hit the road.

Dressed like Marg from Fargo we made a pit stop at Tim Hortons for breakfast.


I think I have this year’s Halloween costume sorted.

I am obsessed with Podcasts on road trips and had downloaded several for the trip but for some reason couldn’t get them to work.  It would turn out we would have several electronic fails over the weekend and just like the frozen pipes in our building, it was all down to the cold weather.

The Canadian used to do this on road trips:

** Since posting this I have been told this video doesn’t work when viewing it on a mobile device so get yourself on a PC y’all because its one of my all time favourite movie scenes and lucky for me it gets recreated in my real life. **

He also fist pumps the console in the middle of the car for the entire ride until I threatened to never go on holiday with him again  subtly advised him it was really annoying.  He has stopped doing it and it has been replaced with him telling me the name of any famous ice hockey players that come from the towns as we drive through them.

We stopped for lunch just outside Ottawa in a village called Manotick and stumbled across a Mom and Pop cafe called Miller’s Oven.  The 8-year-old declared his Salmon Burger “the best burger ever”,  and my toasted ham and cheese on rye with a pickle on the side hit the spot.

Millers Oven Manitock


Due to the rather unpleasant cold temperatures  we didn’t hang around Manotick but will go back and explore the historical buildings and streets in Summer.  The town looked so pretty.


ManitockManitock Mill

With full bellies,  we arrived in Ottawa and decided to hit Parliament Hill for a tour.

Unfortunately,  even though tickets are free for the tours they are given out on a first-come, first served basis and the only tours left for the day were in French, as my French speaking skills only extend as far as being able to order a glass of wine,  we made a plan to return early the following day and try our luck for an English speaking tour.   Outside the ticket office, we decided it was far too cold for sight seeing and hightailed it across the road to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel

The hotel is an impressive Lime Stone building on the Rideau Canal, next door to the Parliament Hill Buildings and in downtown Ottawa.  Both the location and building are sensational.   We had intended on staying at the hotel however when I was booking accommodation during the week it was fully booked (as was most of Ottawa) so will try and stay on our next visit.  We had a bit of sticky beak around the hotel and went into the lounge for afternoon tea.  The grand room was amazing with chandeliers and a glass atrium,  however,  some of the furniture pieces are looking a little tired and need replacing or reupholstering.   Both the food and service were fantastic!

We left the grandeur to check into our own digs at the Courtyard Marriott and then out for an early dinner and a show.

The show was put on by the 8-year-old  back in the room doing his finest Marty Mcfly impersonations.


The next day with milder temperatures of -26 we put on our Hannibal Lector masks, laced up our ice skates and went skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway.


Much joy under the masks (and crazy eyes)



At 7.8 kilometres in length,  The Rideau Canal Skateway is the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world.  It is also something that has been on my bucket list for years.  Up until the weekend skating on the canal had not been open due to the warmer than usual winter weather this year.  A plus of the extreme cold weather event was the big freeze  had opened up the canal for skating.

Lucky for us we had the most glorious blue sky day and I was keen to snap as many pictures as I could.  Only 3 things stood in my way:

1/  I would have to take my gloves off and risk getting frost bite.

2/  My iPhone kept shutting down and turning itself off because it was so cold.

3/  I took my DSL camera but the shutter was struggling with the cold, the battery died and I forgot to pack the camera charger.

I did manage to get these pictures before the phone died and on my husbands phone.  In the end,  I just gave up asking to borrow his phone because with every ask the response was “don’t drop it”.

Rideau Canal


Rideau Canal 2

Rideau Canal 3

Rideau Canal 5

We hired a sleigh for two hours (free but you leave a $50 deposit that is refunded upon return of the sleigh).



Mostly the Canadian pushed myself and the 8-year-old in it at the same time (poor bugger).  I did however have a go at skating in my new Blades of Glory.  The Sleigh helped with holding me up because it was like skating with a zimmer frame.  I will soon be skating like Nancy Kerrigan.

Along the canal, you can take a break with warming huts, snacks and seating.

The highlight?

Seeing this guy, skating in shorts on a -29 (plus wind chill) day!


After skating,  we checked out some of the Winterlude Festival action in a park next to the canal.

It included a rather impressive display of ice carvings.


Plus a guy demonstrating ice carving.


Ice carving guy
This guy made it look like he was cutting butter with a knife.


A crystal garden with more ice sculptures that you can stroll through.

All had a great day!  Then this happened!!!


Roasting marshmallows in a fire pit surrounded by ice, the 8-year-old had an incident that will forever be known as marshmallowgate.

fire pit 3


How this happened I have no idea, but it was like chewing gum.

Without anything to clean it up with and his hand about to fall off from frostbite, we made a swift exit back to the hotel.

Despite being one of the coldest days I have ever experienced,  it was also one of the most fun and invigorating days ever and if you live in Canada and haven’t done it, I recommend you do!







  • Rachael Bogatai

    Oh I love ice skating, wish I could get my skates on and do that trail!!

    The ice sculptures remind of the buffet at The Sheraton on the GC!


  • Emma and Stewart

    Love it, your posts never fail to make me laugh! I’m adding skating on the canal to our bucket list, especially now I know you can get a free sleigh to hold you up.

    That guy in shorts though… Seriously, what is wrong with him?!

    • Maple Bacon Please!

      He was a complete tool!

      You must do it for sure. I was so impressed with Ottawa, it is such a fantastic city. I had so many things on the “Itinerary” for us to do but we didn’t even make a dent in the list.
      We will go back in summer when it will be easier to get around.

  • dirtgirl

    Fabulous photos, that frozen canal is just wonderful! I used to ice skate as a teenager and remember the sore ankles after each session….
    Yes, the guy in the shorts, there is always some wally who makes out he doesn’t feel the cold, must be the male ego thing?
    Again, thank you for sharing your new life in Canada, brings a smile to my dial. Happy Days.

    • Maple Bacon Please!

      He was a total wally, his lady friend was covered up like us, I was wondering if she thought he was a tool. I wouldn’t leave the house with The Canadian if he insisted on skating in that kind of crazy cold in shorts.

  • joannesisco

    Great post and great photos. After seeing the photo of the skaters on the canal with the parliament buildings in the background, I ALMOST want to go and try it myself. Sadly, I am one of the small handful of Canadians who don’t skate … as in, I really don’t see the attraction in doing it 😉

    Marshmallowgate ?… yikes!

    • Maple Bacon Please!

      Thank you Joanne,

      I loved Ottawa, it is such a beautiful city. We did end up doing the Parliament Hill tour at your suggestion and it was fantastic. I will do another blog post with that and some of the other things we did.

      Due to the cold, we didn’t get many of the things on our list done so we are planning another trip in the summer. I can’t wait to see the contrast between summer and winter, especially the canal.

      It sounds like a push in the sleigh would be a perfect way for you to enjoy skating on the canal.

      • joannesisco

        Your post made me put “skating on the Rideau Canal” on my New Things list … along with a tour of Parliament.
        Hope I get to do it before the ice is gone – although there is always next year 🙂

  • Lynn

    My son & daughter in law live in Ottawa. It is such a great city, with so many things to do & see. If you are a cyclist at all, they have an incredible network of bike paths all around the city & up into Gatineau Park.

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