Feriancek: Ottawa’s Canada 150 rink is a little bit of magic on Parliament Hill


It didn’t hit me right away.

Perhaps because my gaze was pointed directly down at the ice, as I tried to keep myself upright. More likely because my attention was focused on the live video I was shooting as I skated. 

But the shiny, happy faces I was watching through my cellphone screen seemed to be feeling it from the start: The exchange students from the Netherlands and the bell-capped Oilers fans; the smallest skater on the rink, fully clad in a pink snowsuit, who got up as many times as she fell; the suited-up businessmen who swapped their dress shoes for skates; the young couple from Pembroke, holding mittened hands. They all got it.

Even the rink staff — much more relaxed and jovial than the “Rink of Rules” reporting would’ve had you expect — were in on the secret.

This is not just a rink. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience; an underrated slice of Canadiana on ice. It’s a lucky, bizarre moment in time. Plus, seeing Santa Claus himself on skates, scooting around the ice, certainly didn’t hurt the overall sense of silliness and good cheer.

But it does feel like a secret. Instead of the expected 45-minute wait time to get through security, it took two minutes. After skates were laced and bags were stashed, people used the unexpected free time to chat with strangers, a rare occurrence in this digital age. 

Nestled on Parliament Hill, the Canada 15o rink, which opened to the public Thursday, overwhelms the senses. As you whirl across the ice, you’re struck by the sheer magnitude of the architecture, the sepia-coloured stones, the ting of the clocktower bells. It’s almost unreal, like the backdrop of a movie set or a funhouse optical illusion. The rink is so flat and the buildings are so close, it’s as if the Parliament buildings are all pressing against you. You turn a corner and feel as if you could smack into the East Block.

It’s magic.

I didn’t feel it until the last five minutes of our skating time. My phone was finally away, I had stopped trying to skate my way into posed-yet-natural-looking photos. Gliding slowly, haphazardly across the ice, I looked up. I realized where I was: on Parliament Hill, ice skating. Likely the single most Canadian thing I’ve ever done.

It’s hard to believe this is the very same spot where, only months ago, thousands spent hours in rainy lines, cramming in like sardines just to enjoy this view. And now, here it is, free and open in the crisp December air, with no lineups, no waiting and, look at that, I’m on skates, too. 

Maybe I’m naive, but as an East Coaster who’s called Ottawa home for just over two years, the feeling of stepping onto Parliament Hill hasn’t gotten old. I still get a little rush, like a kid on a field trip, I tilt my head up, way up, to the tiny waving flag atop the Peace Tower. I always get the same feeling: nostalgic but hopeful, small but significant. Proud.

Add the freeing sensation of gliding on ice to that, and you get the kind of Canadian surge of pride that only belongs in a beer commercial.

The Canada 150 rink has been taking a lot of heat, for being a $5-million waste of money, and maybe it is.

But since it’s here, and we have the privilege of living in Ottawa in the sesquicentennial year of our country, the privilege of living at all, really, why don’t we enjoy it. This is an amazing, monumental, frivolous, magical ice rink. 

Put your doubts away, your phone in your pocket and strap on your skates, Ottawa.

I’ll see you there.

Engagement editor Nicole Feriancek goes for a skate on the new rink on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.


Engagement editor Nicole Feriancek goes for a skate on the new rink on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Tony Caldwell /

Postmedia Network

[email protected]

Nicole Feriancek is the engagement editor at the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun.

 



Source link

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*