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Welcome, Winter
26/11/2003

Light blogging recently, as I have been busy with work and family this week. However, the turn of the weather has me thinking of a story to tell.

Outdoor NHL hockey in Edmonton and the first day of snow here in Toronto have me thinking back to past Canadian winter experiences. Growing up in Windsor -- "The Sun Parlour of Canada" -- I didn't face the same kinds of winters that other Canadians do, and therefore didn't have the same opportunities to enjoy them. I think I only touched skate to natural (outdoor) ice on a couple occasions.

This is quite different from the stories I have heard from my friend and colleague, from his days playing outdoor hockey as a young boy in Montreal in the 1950s.

Somewhere near his home there was a rink maintained by the city. Over the course of the year, the snow that was cleared from the ice was piled in banks outside the rink's boards. By the end of the season these banks towered above the boards, and people would stand on them to watch the games from on high.

Kids played hockey there throughout the winter, and it was very cold. It must have been worse for my friend since he was a goalie. The skates back then had little if any insulation, so the blade was an icy stripe down the middle of your foot.

At the end of each period the boys would head for the shack. The man whose job it was to maintain the ice also kept a fire going in the stove. The kids would take off their skates and put their frozen, numb feet as close to the fire as possible. About the time they started to smell the odor of burning wool socks was when they'd be able to feel their feet again. It was also about time to go back out on the ice.

Personally, I've never really minded winter either. I can't wait for the first big snowstorm, so I can go for a good long walk.

Oh, and I guess to keep this on topic for this blog: I hope the City of Toronto can afford to open all its outdoor rinks this year.


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