4 C
Niagara Falls
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
It’s a Canadian thing: Family pond skating a source of joy during lockdown



It’s 11:30 a.m. on a Monday and the Cadeaus are tying the laces of their skates to head out to play some hockey during a break in online school.

First order of business, shovel the snow off their home rink, a pond in their backyard on Line 3 Road.

It’s not a quick affair — the rink is three-quarters the size of regulation hockey rink — though being on skates helps a bit.

Dad James Cadeau shovels in his white Montreal Canadiens jersey with help from son Liam, 13.

Along with his sisters Sophie, 12, and Daphne, 10, Liam skates around and plays shinny on their home rink.

“You never see them this excited to shovel the driveway,” mom Erinn Lockard says in an interview.

James Cadeau says you “really have to be careful” when deciding whether it’s safe to skate.

He drills down in about eight different places to check the thickness of the ice.

Because the pond is deep, "I've gotta be 100 per cent sure there's no thin spots," he says. "It's at least five inches thick all the way around.”

In recent years there hasn’t been as much skating time, due to warmer weather, Cadeau says.

But today, the ice is rock solid.

“You could almost drive a car on there now.”

“It's not fed by any underground water, which makes it freeze really nice because you don't have to worry about flowing water,” Lockard says.

She says it’s nice to have a place for the kids to get outside and have some fun, especially during COVID lockdowns. It gives the family a bit of extra exercise and something to do.

Though she prefers to stay off the ice.

“I don’t own skates. I’m more the hot chocolate person,” she says.

In a normal year, the family has skate parties when the ice is safe.

They’ve even put logos on the ice in the past.

“I’m sure you couldn't guess what logo was in the middle,” she jokes. Her husband is a big Habs fan.

The ice is a little bumpy this year, she said, due to the way it’s been freezing on and off.

She says the family has tried different ways to smooth the surface, but they haven’t quite found the perfect solution.

“We've tried different ways to come up with Zamboni ideas, but there's no water out here, so to haul it from (the house) to here is like a pain in the butt,” she says.

Thanks to some friends, they have some new ideas this year they might try out.The rink is on an old irrigation pond that hasn’t been used in a “long time,” Lockard says.

She imagines plenty of kids skated there long before her family started to use it.

It’s about 12 feet deep in the middle, though the water level is lower this year, Lockard says.

In the summer, the family also swims in the pond. A previous owner put in an aeration system to keep the water from going stagnant.

Now the pond has a few fish and a turtle, and various wildlife like herons and ducks will stop by on occasion.

As this chilly COVID winter settles in, Cadeau says they’ll be out on the ice every day until it thaws.

It's a great distraction, “something to take away the all the craziness that's going on in life.”

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