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Growing Up Muskoka - How to Build an Outdoor Ice Rink

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There is a beautiful magical awakening that happens in Muskoka’s northern forest’s as the winter becomes alive, surrounded with fresh snow around the tree canopies. It is a frozen icy wonderland where snowmen (and snowladies) come to life, tobogganing becomes a regular Sunday afternoon ‘to-do’ activity and most Canadian kids are skating in the rinks of our backyards across our beautiful country.

Growing up in Muskoka…..

Growing up in Muskoka…..

My family lives in one of the most beautiful places on Earth (outside of a very selected few) Muskoka, Ontario. It is truly magical, from the evergreen trees, to the granite rock landscapes and hundreds of small fresh water lakes; we are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Watching our children grow up here is one of the reasons that brought us to the area 15 years ago.

We are a hockey family of 5, and ‘yes’ we are one of ‘those’ crazy families that get up at the crack of dawn just to drive to a rink to watch our kid play. Every year in December we set out to build the kids their own ice rink in our backyard, they look forward to this with the same anticipation as opening a present on Christmas morning. Is the rink ready yet? Can we skate on the ice yet? I mean we have hit the parent goldmine with disconnecting these 3 little kiddos from their apple devices (mom win).

Backyard ice rinks are a great Canadian winter pass time

Backyard ice rinks are a great Canadian winter pass time

Campfires, hot chocolate and lots of giggles

Campfires, hot chocolate and lots of giggles

Our kids, neighbourhood kids, friends and family use the ice rink faithfully, we often host gatherings that consist of camp fires, homemade snacks and a whole lot of wintertime cheer. Having a skating rink in your backyard provides endless joy and everlasting friendships over hot chocolate and snacks. It’s truly amazing that something so very simple could provide so much fun for everyone to use and enjoy. Remember that part about disconnecting from ‘electronics’ this mama is a huge believer in outdoor play, getting outside as often as we can to shake off our cobwebs!

Family fun in Muskoka

Family fun in Muskoka

Here are some tips on Outdoor Ice Rink Building

Temperature

You need to live in a climate where temperatures can drop down to at least -10 degrees (or greater). Having a cold chill to freeze the rink is key for creating perfect backyard ice surfaces.

 

Water

We fill our rink once framed, liner placed and ready in one complete fill. It takes about 24 hours to fill our 30ft x 60ft rink.

Patience

You need to have a rink sized amount of patience for taking on a project like this, ice flooding is completed in stages and often requires flooding at night when temperatures drop down well below freezing. I can’t count how many nights my husband has stayed up until midnight, flooding and adjusting the rink.

 

Rink Liner

Use a great quality rink liner like ‘Rink Master’ liner for your project, this makes a huge difference. We have used other types of tarps and liners sometimes leading to frustration and disappointment over leaking issues.

For more informations on rink liners - check out Rink Master

 

Flooding

We made a homemade flooding device that is connected to a hot water supply. This device is made from a shower curtain rod, plumbing parts and an old mat, it allows hot water to flow slowly in the bottom base, the mat dragging at the back allows for even disbursement. Flooding is key for a good quality ice surface and we use ‘hot water’ to ensure a perfectly flush and even freeze.

 

Accessories - Boards, Nets & Lighting

We placed boards on the end of the rink, with snow netting to prevent our neighbours having flying pucks throughout their property. We added some decorative Christmas lights, I found these at Canadian Tire for less than $100 which covered to entire rink. It is one of the best places to hang out and catch up with family and friends.

  

Hockey families are bonded for life !

Hockey families are bonded for life !