Skating on Hamilton Marsh in 2014. (Andrew Jones photo)

Frozen in time: Memories of outdoor skating in the mid-Island

Some hit the ice at Hamilton Marsh, while others have even made rinks of their own

It’s been a mild winter so far for Vancouver Island— no snow days off from school, and definitely no frozen bodies of water to skate on.

However, that isn’t stopping some Islanders from sharing their memories of colder times.

Some Parksville residents recall years when they’ve been able to skate outside in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. Some hit the ice at Hamilton Marsh, while others have made rinks of their own.

For Karen Morris her skating memories are from Loon Lake in the late 1970s with her best friend from high school.

“Skating on Loon Lake was a very special experience, especially living in an area that doesn’t usually have the low temperatures required to freeze a lake thick enough to skate on,” she said. “It was a beautiful day with my best friend and I’m glad we took a couple of pictures.”

General rules say ice should be four to six inches (10 to 15 centimetres thick) before skating on lakes or ponds.

READ MORE: MEANWHILE IN CANADA: Okanagan man skates through local streets

Morris remembers finding a place to sit down long enough to tie up her skates, before getting too cold. She says the smart ones brought lawn chairs and parked up on ice.

“Lots of people and families took advantage of it,” she said. “It was challenging because of the bumpy surface and you had to be really careful, but it was so much fun.”

Morris says she left the Island for a bit and came back in 1985, and doesn’t remember Loon Lake ever freezing up enough to skate on again. She recently took up skating again, and has been skating at Oceanside Arena for the past two years.

Jennifer Grenz has a do-it-yourself rink for her family, sharing photos of children, Alicia, Madelyn and Joshua Grenz enjoying the ice rink we made in January 2017 in their yard in Parksville.

“We made it using split rail fence rails and a large tarp,” he said. “It lasted almost two weeks. We hope to be able to make use of that very large tarp again if we ever get another cold winter like that again.”

Fellow resident Jenny Yacoboski recalls skating off Grafton in 2008.

“It was a very cold family outing,” he said. “My kids Marc and Alex had never been out on a frozen pond. The greatest memory from that day was them hearing rocks bounce across the pond and the rocks echoed like they were a giant Slinky bouncing across the ice.”

Weather forecasts do call for sub-zero temperatures next week, but the cold snap may not last long enough to create proper conditions for outdoor skating buffs.

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Skating on Hamilton Marsh in 2014. (Andrew Jones photo)

Cindy Sommers skating on Loon Lake in the late 1970s. (Photo submitted by Karen Morris)

Cindy Sommers skating on Loon Lake in the late 1970s. (Photo submitted by Karen Morris)

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