Beating Winter with Outdoor Skating at Riverside Glen

Lesley Moran grew up on a male-dominated house, she says with a laugh, recalling memories of her brothers wrapped up in sports while she, like so many other girls, was relegated to the sidelines and ballet classes of a different era.   

Mike and Shirley on the Riverside Glen rink.

But she was always good on ice, and “when it came to skating, my father always put a rink in the back of the house outside,” she says. “Everybody in the neighbourhood would go to the rink,” and though the boys would take up most of it with their hockey sticks and pucks, there was always a bit of space for the girls to work on their figure skating twirls.

There are really only two ways to approach a proper Canadian winter: hibernate inside and whine, waiting for the warmth of spring to beat back the cold or get out and enjoy the winter beauty. Lesley was always fond of those skating memories, so when The Village of Riverside Glen unveiled the village’s new outdoor skating rink, she was proud to be the first one to use it. It was no small patch for twirls this time – she had the whole space to glide around and her smile was a wide as the bright winter sky she skated under because of it. It felt good to be out in the winter haven.

The village is always looking for ways to build a stronger sense of community, says general manager Bryce McBain, and like the neighbourhood kids of Lesley’s past, the idea of bringing people together on ice emerged. Would people find it meaningful to use, and if the invitation were extended to family and friends, would people come?

“I think it was a great idea,” Lesley says. She’s eager to get out on it any time the weather allows and her fellow residents are lining up for their time on the ice while team members are eager to support them.

Valeriu Danci, a creative team member who works in environmental services, even attached skis to a manual tilt wheelchair to make it easier for more people to enjoy the ice.

Recreation aide Mike Simpson pushed a resident named Shirley around on the ice in the makeshift chair giving her an experience she thought she’d never have again after losing much of her mobility. Lesley was watching as others enjoyed the wheelchair skating skis, “and you could see the glee on their faces,” she says. “They were just so happy to be swinging around on the ice.”

“To give them that experience to go back out on the ice again, it’s really very special,” Mike says.