The Outdoor Rink Project

Toronto hockey players, 2019 by Margo McDiarmid

December 2020

One of my favourite places in the winter is our local community ice rink late at night. 

I walk by the Windsor Park Rink in Ottawa every night in the winter with my dog and have always been struck by the warm halo of light filled with hockey players or families surrounded by the cold darkness lurking just outside the rink walls. It’s a scene that plays out across the country in the winter.

It inspired me to document community rinks in Ottawa. This project will capture why each rink is unique and why the volunteers work late into the night to maintain them, many of whom have donated their energy and time for decades. I also hope to take photos of people of all ages using the rinks this winter.

Ottawa has nearly 270 outdoor rinks – the most in the country. They are an invaluable part of winter activities, offering a safe community space for residents to cope with the cold and dark. They are also a collaborative effort between volunteers and the city. 

I will be visiting a sample of those neighbourhood rinks in the Ottawa area. I have already scouted out about 30, using a handy list helpfully supplied by Paul Dupuis, who is the guy in charge of rinks as part of his job as the Recreation Supervisor at the City of Ottawa. I want to include rinks that have a combination of beautiful or unique location and a sense of neighbourhood.

I think rinks will also play a crucial role in how people how people are coping with the pandemic this winter. I expect that just like parks, the neighbourhood rink will be the place where people have a chance to safely get outside and be together have some fun in this winter of continuing restrictions and COVID-19 warnings.

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