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News 2011-2012

The rink will officially close March 11th 2012.

The ice might be soft due to the weather conditions.

For information about ice condition, opening hours etc. please call 416 392 0913

Click to enlarge.
Dufferin Grove Skating Party

Saturday February 11, 2012

Noon To 3 pm


From the Dufferin rink diary:

Monday Dec.26 2011

Boxing Day. The weather was nice, and from the afternoon onward the rink was very crowded until about 8 p.m. City TV came to do a story on David Rothberg's rink donation. He doesn't much like doing these interviews, but says he wants to tough it out because maybe other people will donate to keep a rink open that's currently scheduled to close on New Year's. Nobody likes this media stuff very much but it's important to remember that 15 minutes after the broadcast it will be the video equivalent of fishwrap.

City TV guy trying to get his shot

kitchen work in exchange for snacks

Watching the cameraman was interesting for people. The reporter asked a couple of Tibetan boys to skate up to the camera, fast and close, and they did. They had to repeat the "take" at least a dozen times. They wore yellow loaner skates from the park, and they looked pretty proud -- would the Olympics be next?

Later on, they did dishes and other chores to earn some snacks. A good day all around.

Sunday Dec.25 2011

Today's the day the rink was meant to be closed. But thanks to David Rothberg's agreement, the doors were open from 10 in the morning until 6. It was slow at first, and then more and more people came. The mood was pretty good -- shopping is over, and there's time to enjoy semi-winter.

Christmas Day campfire with skates on

early birds (morning skaters)

the right hat for the occasion

family visitors from out of town, watching out the window

By early afternoon, there was a constant lineup of people wanting to borrow skates. About $380 was taken in skate donations -- at $2 a loan, and some people who didn't have money to donate, that's a lot of skates. The loans work particularly well for visitors from out of town. And -- always -- for the big groups of newcomers. Lately it's been Tibetans -- sometimes they make up a third of the pleasure-skaters. Shinny hockey, not so much.

The staff said it was painful shutting down the rink at 6 -- there were still a lot of people on the rink, clearly reluctant to give back the skates and go.

skate loans and visitors, Christmas Day
Saturday Dec.24 2011

The rink was very busy today, which is a bit unusual on Christmas Eve. In this part of town, Christmas Eve is as big as Christmas Day, and people are often too busy to come skating. The Star article about David Rothberg's donation (to let the three Ward 18 rinks open on Christmas Day) may have attracted more people today. Global TV came and did a news item, too, for the 6 o'clock news.

One of the staff noticed that a kid who is currently banned from the rink is in the Star photo -- it's hard to keep track of all the people on the ice!

December 23 2011

The rink was full of school classes in the morning and kids out of school in the afternoon. The group in the photo were from Etobicoke School of the Arts -- they said that almost all the students had stayed off school today, and most of the teachers stayed away too. There was also a big group from a foreign students' language school. Many of them were first-time skaters, looking a little nervous but willing to try.

school's out -- time to go skating

first woodstove fire of this season

It was cold enough outside to make a fire in the woodstove. A very nice scene.

people sit in a long row and eat soup

"zamboni cafe" -- still PWYC
Friday Dec.2 2011

high 3, low -2

The usual size crowds, compounded by Friday Night date night and Friday Night supper. The ice is pretty thick already, a bit rough in places but most people seem satisfied with it. Tomorrow all the other city rinks are supposed to open and that will take some of the pressure off this one.

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of the season, the staff feel like they're babysitting -- only that the "kids" are between 10 and 16. And there are always a handful of youth who want to see how far they can go -- openly smoking weed and drinking beer, and then getting chased away and arguing: "what'd I do? what'd I do?" over and over again. It's amazingly boring for those staff and rink friends who have been around for a while.

When one of those guys comes back to visit years later, holding their own kids by the hand, the kid wearing new skates on their little feet, it all feels better. Or even when a mouthy youth from other years announces that this year he's grown up -- and proves it by being more calm and quiet.

Few and far between, so far this year, though.

Friday Nov.25 2011

Low 5 high 10, thin cloud alternating with direct sun.

Friday Nov.25 noon, 11 celsius -- ice is solid though wet on top

The ice held much better than was expected, despite the warm sun. The rink was closed for six hours in the afternoon, covered with a layer of water but hard underneath. Very full of skaters all evening -- date night.

Saturday Nov.26 2011

high 13 low 5

five minutes after the hockey side reopened

No sun today at all, so the ice never even got wet on top, even though it went up to 13 celsius at one point. The rink got more crowded as the day wore on. At around 7 pm there was a fight outside the front doors, which ended with one of the youth (they were a largish group of maybe Tibetan youth) kicked a hole in the glass panel on the front door. Police came quickly, and Security came as well -- not sure if they nabbed anybody (the staff thought the group went over to the KFC across the street).

Some of the familiar skaters from last year are arriving back as they figure out that the rink is open. One woman said, "I know that there's lots of trouble here at the park, with the bureaucracy, but I hope that you have so much support that you don't need me -- I should speak up but I feel like there are so many disasters happening to things that I care about, I can't keep up with all the things I need to protest."

I told her she should just skate and enjoy the beautiful evening, and she said she would.

Nov.19 2011

High 12, low 5

12.05 a.m.: signs of a recent flood. Still many thin patches.

10.45 a.m. The ice is thin but holding so far. With only two nights of flooding, it's unlikely the rink can stay open in the afternoon, since it's going to be 11 celsius and the sun's out. But for now, the ice is holding and the first rink rats have started up their long winter shinny game.

The ice is covered by a thin sheet of water on the south-facing side, but at this time of year it doesn't turn into mush -- the only thing to watch out for is cement, but the skaters say it's fine for now.

first rink rats have arrived

cleaning off the leaves so they don't blow onto the ice

The rink got very wet and the ice was even thinner, so that it had to be closed by noon. The pleasure-skating side only was reopened at 8 pm and closed again at 8.45 so the zamboni could do ice repairs. The zamboni driver stayed until 2 a.m. and did four more floods. He said he had to be careful that the machine didn't take out whole patches of ice.

Three boys were accosted by two young men near the garage, and mugged for one of their cell phones. Everybody is on the lookout now.


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 9 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 Ginger Dean 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 Ginger Dean.

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.



The tasty market-food suppers will be on offer every Friday night from 6-ish to 7.30 pm, to eat at the regular rink tables or at the bar-stool counter. As long as leftovers last, they’ll be served on Saturdays too.

look here for the menu

Every day of the week there’s Mary Sylwester’s warming soup Ginger Dean's chili, the mini-pizzas and Beretta’s hot dogs and the park cookies. Apples, too. All that fresh air makes skaters hungry.


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!


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 - and Wallace, Campbell (single pad), Christie (single pad), or Giovanni Caboto rinks for shinny hockey. For more information on any of these rinks:


Toronto has more city-owned compressor-cooled outdoor ice rinks than any city in the world – 51 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.

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