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News 2010-2011

News 2010 - 2011

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The annual bike couriers' ice race

February 12, 6 pm to 10 pm, at Dufferin Rink: the annual bike couriers' ice race. Have supper at the races: the zamboni cafe will be serving shepherd's pie and Vegan ziti, and other good treats. Open skating on the pleasure-skating pad except for the final race.

From the December 2010 Newsletter:


The unofficial word is that the rink pads at most outdoor rinks will be open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day, but the buildings (washrooms, change and warm-up areas) will be locked – NOT a good plan. Lots of people like to come outside and have a skate on the big holidays.

On Christmas Day, after the presents are opened, the kids get to try out their new skates or hockey gear, if any, and later the grownups get to take a break from eating. On Boxing Day (one of the two most popular skating days of the holidays, citywide) people get to have some outdoor fun with relatives who might be visiting, and take a break from shopping. On New Year’s Day (the other most popular citywide skating day), it’s “the first day of the rest of my life,” and lots of people want to skate off the parties with some fresh air and exercise. Why lock the rink houses?

For a follow-up, see pages 5-6. But also, take note: Dufferin Rink will be fully open on all those holidays. The small extra staffing cost will be covered by your zamboni café donations.


Toronto has more city-owned compressor-cooled outdoor ice rinks than any city in the world – 50 counting the new skating oval at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke). But our civic knowledge of the physics of ice maintenance hasn’t kept pace with our collective rink wealth. Many people seem to find it amazing, even shocking, that rinks can run at temperatures as high as 15 celsius.

What’s the surprise? Dufferin Rink has two compressors of 75 horsepower each – you can hear their noise through the compressor-room doors at the side of the building. These compressors push a brine (salt water) solution through pipes that pass through a big tank of freezing-cold ammonia, and then out into the extensive grid of PVC pipes underneath the concrete floor of the rink. This cold liquid brings the entire big concrete slab to well below freezing, so that any water that’s put on the rink pads turns to ice. The brine liquid, warming up a bit as it gives its cold to the rink slab, circulates back into a large pipe in the “header trench” right next to the building (underneath where everybody stands when the zamboni is doing ice maintenance). From there the brine gets pushed back into the compressor room, where it passes through the freezing-cold ammonia tank to cool right down again, and then gets pushed back out into the pipes under the concrete, and so on, round and round.

The only serious match for this powerful cooling system is the sun, and in the months around the December 21 winter solstice, the sun is very weak. It doesn’t get to spend very much time above the horizon, and that suits the cooling system just fine.

The sun begins to gain real power toward the end of February, which is why, on a sunny day on, let’s say, February 25, when the air temperature is minus 8, the ice gets really mushy near the reflective boards, and even a bit soft in the middle. The cooling system is losing ground ( as the sun prepares to bring on spring and summer. But on a low-sun day in November, December, or January, even if it’s mild out, the shinny hockey and pleasure-skating at Dufferin Rink are brilliant.


On the first Monday evening of the rink season, rink staff came within a hair of shutting it down. The crowds of young skaters seemed overwhelming, and many of them were clearly frustrated – and not shy to show it. If you’re young and you love to play shinny hockey with your friends, and only one rink opens when there are four other nearby rinks still without ice, the disappointment can sting. Timely opening of all our rinks is the real solution (more about that on page 5). But even after the other rinks have opened, the popularity of skating and hockey can lead to crowded times at Dufferin Rink. If you like it a bit quieter, try the following: Wallace or Giovanni Caboto rinks (up the hill at Lansdowne and St.Clair) for pleasure skating – they’re both double pads, so always available); or Wallace, Campbell (single pad), Christie (single pad), or Giovanni Caboto rinks for shinny hockey (and some pleasure-skating slots as well). For more information on any of these rinks:


Rink clubhouse: open seven days a week, Monday to Sunday: 9:00am - 9:00pm
Zamboni Café : Monday-Sunday 10:00am - 8:30pm
Skate rental ($2.00): Monday to Sunday 9 am to 8 pm
Shinny hockey: same hours as the rink clubhouse except Sundays. There is a (strictly enforced) age schedule. From rink staff: “If you ever see the wrong age group on the shinny ice, do us a favour and notify the rink staff right away.”

Pleasure-skating: always freely available. After 9:00pm, skating is unsupervised. Then it's a bit like skating on a pond: it’s mostly shinny hockey, and people are responsible for their own use of the rink.

Beginners’ free registered shinny hockey, Wednesday Nights From 10 to 11 P.M.
Each session consists of a warm up, drills and exercises to improve your skills and a fun scrimmage. This program is for those who are new to skating. To register, e-mail Dan Watson at

Beginners’ free drop-in shinny hockey, Sunday nights From 9:30 to 11 P.M.
Each session consists of warm up, quick lesson and an organized game for beginners. Space is limited each night to 30 players, and is on a first come first serve basis. More information: or 416 392-0913. Ask for Dan Watson.

The large rink lights turn off after 11:00pm, and then the rink is locked.

Parking: One good place to park is at Dufferin Mall across the street. After 5 pm. there’s lots of parking across from St.Mary’s School at the north end of the park too.

Rink contacts: 416 392-0913 or The rink phone message will tell you the current ice skating conditions.



This is a website run by CELOS, giving information about all 49 municipal outdoor ice rinks, plus Harbourfront Rink. The site has maps, hours, schedules, phone numbers, ratings, and stormy-weather updates. It also has blogs about the individual rinks, with contributions from skaters.

Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks than any city in the world. It’s the free-outdoor-ice-skating capital of Canada!

From the October 2010 Newsletter:


Winter is coming and soon the rinks will open. Thanks to City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s Council motion in February 2009, Dufferin Rink and twelve others will again open two weeks earlier than the rest this year: on Saturday November 20. Thanks to negotiations with former Parks Director Andy Koropeski, Wallace Rink will get a zamboni garage (and better ice maintenance). And thanks to many neighborhood requests, Campbell Rink will have more family-skate times, with hot chocolate over a campfire. The joy of winter, coming soon.

From the September 2010 Newsletter:


This year, fourteen city rinks will open two weeks earlier than the rest. Dufferin Rink is one of them. Parks managers have promised that this year they will schedule staff to flood at night instead of during sunny days, so even if the temperatures are above normal in November, all fourteen rinks ought to open on time. Last season only Dufferin Rink and City Hall Rink opened when they were supposed to, because only those two rinks had night-time floods (Dufferin Rink with volunteers). When the sun isn’t up, the first ice holds, and the ice builds up fast. Then... let the skating begin! (And the woodstove, and the hot chocolate, and the shinny hockey, and the $2 skate rentals, and the rink-side campfires -- the joys of winter.)

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