Town’s Outdoor Rinks a Winter Delight
There’s nothing like gliding on a smooth ice surface with a winter wonderland all around you.
Don’t have a pond nearby? Not to worry – there’s probably an outdoor ice rink near you.
Whitchurch-Stouffville’s eight rinks are among the amenities offered
by the town that meet all the good criteria; close to home, cheap
(read ‘free’) and providing family fun that gets everyone active and
They are a microcosm of your neighbourhood – toddlers in
seemingly-large helmets inching their way along, parents and
grandparents skating or proudly watching offspring, twirling girls and
boys showing the fruits of their skating lessons, and teenagers
enjoying impromptu hockey games.
For almost 150 winters, being outdoors on the ice has been a cherished
tradition in Stouffville. In the early days, women wore ankle-length skirts and the very early skates were pretty lethal looking with long, pointed blades. This may be what skaters sported at the March 1878 carnival in Stouffville. “It was well attended by skaters and visitors,” reported the March 21, 1878 edition of the Stouffville Alert. “The ice was in fair condition and about 25 masqueraders were in costumes.”
Nowadays, Town staff and local volunteers prepare the rinks at the beginning of the season and then volunteers largely take over, with the exception of the Vandorf rink which is run by staffers. They also come out to clear heavy snowfalls from Town
rinks. We are lucky to have volunteers, noted resident Sarah Smith. “It is
quite a labour-intensive process – and finicky with the weather.”
Why do they do it? For volunteer Angelo Palermo, it is a case of “…giving it back.”
He has maintained his local ice rink over the past seven or eight years as his ‘thank you’ to the volunteers who kept up the rink in East York where he played hockey as a youngster. He hopes his children will continue this tradition.
His reward is seeing the rink filled with children happily skating. “It is a win-win for everybody,” said Mr. Palermo, who coaches minor hockey and notes that one of his sons
started on his path to playing rep hockey for the Stouffville Clippers on the “outdoor pond that I flooded.”
“With limited staff resources, it is difficult to keep the rinks in
good condition without the assistance of the volunteers,” wrote Glenn
Jackson, the town’s Corporate Communications Specialist, in an e-mail.
“We smile when we see the kids out there skating,” said Ms. Smith. “In our time we did a lot of pond skating.” She and her husband Andrew and children Isaac, Max and Emma enjoy heading to the rink to play hockey or just skate and enjoy.
Only the vagaries of the winter climate can throw a wrench into all this.
“The rinks get built and the mild weather takes them away,” noted Mr. Jackson.
That’s about the only time you’ll see ‘Closed’ signs at the rinks.
Your local outdoor ice rinks are in Madori Neighbourhood Park, Rupert
Park, Wheler’s Neighbourhood Park, Byer’s Pond Way Park, Sunnyridge
Neighbourhood Park and the Vandorf and Ballantrae Parks, and Greenwood
Park, the town’s newest outdoor rink.
For more information or to volunteer, call the town at
905-640-1910, ext. 2278.