A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[URBAN NOTE] “Legalized skating on Grenadier Pond a small win for Torontonians”

While skating in High Park does sound delightful, I do hope for the sake of–among others–The Globe and Mail‘s Marcus Gee that Grenadier Pond turns out to be consistently solid enough for skating. Sometimes regulations are a burden; sometimes, they’re life-saving.

About a year back, breaking with custom, Toronto city council actually did something sensible: it ended a ban on skating on Grenadier Pond.

Skaters have been going out on the long pond in the southwest corner of High Park for a century and more. Archival photos show women in long skirts and overcoats lacing up their skates.

It is a wonderful Toronto experience. When I took to the ice on Monday morning, a middle-aged man with his shoes in a backpack was sailing around on long speed skates, his hands linked behind his back as he took big swaying strides. A couple of guys were playing shinny, using their bags as goalposts. A woman in a parka with the hood pulled up against the stiff breeze was skating alongside her dog.

One of the delights of pond skating is simply observing the ice, so different from the monochrome man-made stuff. Grenadier’s went from a cloudy white at the shallower end to an almost translucent black in deeper parts, marked here and there with circular white patches that looked like miniature galaxies in deep space. It is no wonder that Grenadier regulars wait with sharpened blades for a cold snap that will turn the pond into the city’s biggest outdoor rink.

In recent years, city officials concerned about safety and (more the point) liability issues tried to shut the party down. “No skating” signs went up. Those who ventured onto the pond sometimes found city bylaw officers hollering at them from the shore to cease and desist. They were, after all, violating Section 608-21 B of the Toronto Municipal Code, stating that, “No person shall access or skate on a natural ice surface in a park where it is posted to prohibit it.”

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Written by Randy McDonald

January 16, 2017 at 8:00 pm

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