Skating Canal – Winter Tradition
Music; Ambience: Sharpening of skates
JM: It’s 7:30 in the morning in downtown Ottawa and we’re listening to the sounds of ice skates being sharpened on an electric grinding wheel. The visitors standing in line here have come to skate on a frozen canal that runs through the center of the city. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Ice Skating on the Rideau Canal has been a Winter tradition in Ottawa since 1971, the year the city first created one of the world’s largest skating surfaces. John Taylor is a history professor at Carleton University, which is located in Ottawa, at one end of the historic canal.
JT: “It became one of the most important things in the life of many Ottawans, and it’s not something that’s really exclusive to anybody. It seems to belong to all, and maybe that’s one of the reasons that it really took off in a way.”
JM: Some city residents use the frozen canal to commute to work, skating to their jobs in the Canadian capital. Ottawans Robin and Kenny Bruff have taken some time away from work — simply to appreciate the beauty of a mid-winter morning.
RB: Today’s a perfect winter day, it’s really sunny, and a little windy, but it’s warm. .. And everyone’s smiling and they’re happy, and the kids especially are having just a great time, and it doesn’t last very long, it’s only a good month and a half you get this kind of weather, so it’s great.”
KB: ” Well you really have to embrace winter if you live in Canada, especially a city like Ottawa. If you uh squirrel away through the winter, it really becomes unbearable. So you know being able to get out, and enjoy days like today. As long as you’re dressed for the occasion it makes it quite enjoyable.
JM: For just a few more weeks, visitors will make their way to Ottawa for a chance to skate on the frozen Rideau Canal, a location that over the last 30 years has become a national symbol of winter in Canada. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.