It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Winterlude is here again!

(You watching, Mo-Wo? You did give me my marching orders, and ever the diligent blogger, I’ve come through. Actually, my sweetie has come through. These are his pictures.

Update: if you want to see more, he’s got some great pictures of the ice sculptures, with a short video clip of one being made. Well, being begun! Go now! Have a look – they’re great.)

For the rest of you who may not be familiar, we’ve begun our annual “making lemons from lemonade” festival. Given that winter lasts a solid five months in this city, we’ve learned to make the most of it – the result? Winterlude.

Much of Winterlude occurs on the Canal – the world’s longest skating rink. (Really. Guinness World Records made it official in August 2005.)

world's largest skating rink billboard

Boats don’t frequent it this time of year, so the city grooms it for ice skating instead.

skating on the Rideau canal

That’s the still shot. Here’s the live action version:

After an hour or two of freezing your butt off, it’s traditional to warm up with a deep fried beaver tail.

Beavertails hut on the Rideau canal

Finally, I can’t resist sharing this photo with you. The streets are not filled with Inuit folks, even in Canada. Some have migrated to the urban centres, but most still live in the far north. But these two guys were here to see a friend of theirs, whose ice sculptures were being created in a neighbouring park.

Want to see some sculptures? You can go here, and later, after work hours (because just as I don’t drink during work hours, he doesn’t blog during them!) check out here.

Inuit, Ottawa

February 5, 2007 - Posted by | commemoration, holidays, Ottawa, outings


  1. I am SO making some of those beavertails. It’s not winter without them, and you can’t get them here in University Town. Sigh.

    Comment by Haley | February 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. What are beavertails? I’ve never heard of them here in california

    Comment by Homie2 | February 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I’d go JUST for the “rink”. LOVE it.

    Comment by candace | February 5, 2007 | Reply

  4. I don’t miss winters, but I would love to go skating on a river or canal. My Dutch colleague skated the historic route of 100 miles (kilometers?) through canals of the old cities one year. Very impressive!

    Comment by Lady M | February 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. We’ve begun our annual “making lemons from lemonade” festival.

    That line amused me because I almost said that very thing in my post. But then I thought, “It puts such a negative spin on winter … MaryP wouldn’t look at it like that.”

    Comment by Stephen | February 6, 2007 | Reply

  6. Beaver tails? Seriously, or something shaped like beaver tails? I can’t imagine. But the ice sculptures, absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by mamacitatina | February 6, 2007 | Reply

  7. Ok, I’m seriously impressed that you managed to put video up on your site. Was it easy? ‘Cuz I’ve got one of Pumpkin singing her ABCs that I’d love to share with the grandparents…

    Also – beavertails? I’m guessing they’re some kind of hot pastry thing like elephant ears?

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | February 6, 2007 | Reply

  8. Haley – even though your brother is working at one of the shacks, I have yet to have one of those carb-filled goodies. I need to DO something about that!

    Homie2, Mamacita Tina, Ms Huis: Beavertails are (you got it, MsH) a “hot pastry thing”. Large flattened ovals, bigger than your two palms, and roughly shaped like a beaver’s tail, they are deep-fried till warm but still soft and then served with your choice of a variety of toppings. Sugar, sugar and cinnamon, cheese, etc. My favourite? Killaloe Sunrise – sugar and lemon juice. Yum.

    Candace: That rink is within a ten minute walk of our house. Want to come visit???

    LadyM: We’ve heard of the Dutch route, of course, but maintain our “world’s largest” designation because the Dutch one isn’t contiguous (there are parts you have to walk over ground from one canal to the next) and very often their winter isn’t cold enough, and it doesn’t freeze at all. But would’t it be fun to go there and do it? I envy your colleague – both the trip and his evident ability to skate. Me, I’m kinda wobbly…

    Stephen: I know, I know. Sunny, optimist me doesn’t say stuff like that! But winter? It’s pretty. It’s nice in a postcard. It’s not so nice to live in, not after about six weeks. So it can Go Away now!

    Comment by MaryP | February 6, 2007 | Reply

  9. p.s. to Ms Huis – Oh, putting up the videos is dead easy. You just drop in the code that your husband emails to you…

    I’ll ask him!

    Comment by MaryP | February 6, 2007 | Reply

  10. I miss Ottawa! I went to grad school there and lived a stone’s throw away from the canal! Yup, Winterlude is great and Beavertails are a must!

    I think my husband and I need to stop postponing that long-planned trip to Winterlude and just go! I guess after the second baby comes and is old enough to go to Oma and Opa’s house for a few days 🙂

    Comment by smashedpea | February 6, 2007 | Reply

  11. Ah thanks. And, I wanted to give you the positive reviews on the sleigh theatre out there this year from BC. My MIL went last month and it was woooonnnnderful.

    For more on this excellent event for see

    Comment by mo-wo | February 6, 2007 | Reply

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