Join ’em, eh?

What’s a nice little Canadian knitter to do when winter starts getting her down?

Embrace it. Leap in with both feet. Get your layers on and go find the good stuff about winter. So that’s what we did. Team Harlot (Joe, the ladies, Ken and I) rented a van (a van with a dvd player in it. I’m telling you, the judicious application of technology to travel is the most brilliant thing ever. Ever. The contrast between a road trip with teens unplugged vs plugged is ridiculous. I’m not normally a big fan of hooking the kids up to a tv to keep them quiet, but on a four and half hour road trip where you can’t say “why don’t you go for a walk”…it’s genius.) and we drove to Tupper’s house in Manotick, our launching pad for a visit to Ottawa’s Winterlude festival.

Our specific purpose, to skate the whole length of the Rideau Canal.


The Rideau Canal is 175 years old this year, and during the summer it’s a boatway and series of locks and parks. It’s very beautiful. In the winter the canal is transformed into the worlds largest skating rink. Very wide (wide enough for large boats) and long….more than 7.8km of maintained ice, with stops for refreshments and history and interesting things along the way. We had a great time.

We started in the middle, at the First Nations Village of Traditions, then skated to the start of the skateway, then across the whole length to the end, then back to the middle where we got off. (There was a time in there towards the end when I was separated from the family. They swear they told me that they were stopping for maple candy, I swear that can’t be true. If they had mentioned that they were stopping, I certainly wouldn’t have skated another 3.5km looking for them, would I?) The whole weekend could not have been more Canadian.

Canadian Weekend – things that stirred our patriotic (if frozen) hearts.

1. Stopping at a bad truckstop on the way to Ottawa (The Capitol of Canada) and buying buttertarts and coffee.

2. Snow.


3. Freezing weather.


(Look. An almost 18 year old specimen of wild daughter spotted having a good time while not on the phone, not near a boy or hooked up to the internet. Careful. Don’t make any loud noises that could startle her.)

4. Skating (along with thousands of other Canadians and tourists) on the Rideau.



5. Skating through the First Nations Village:


Contemplating (as you wear 17 layers of engineered clothing in a vain attempt to be warm) that teepees, furs and fires were – and in some parts of Canada, still are, the tools with which Native peoples cope with this brutal winter. Boggle at how you would live about 14 seconds.

6. Watching people make maple syrup:


eating Maple Taffy made in the snow.


7. Find kids playing with Ice blocks.


8. Try not to to spill your hot chocolate (and mine) while you skate.


9. The eternal debate of eating beavertails. Mittens on – or mittens off.


The mature among us had Lemon and sugar. The younger ones with no taste had cinnamon.

10. We went to see the international ice sculpture challenge.



11. Saw a one horse open sleigh on Dow’s lake.


12. Wondered if we had frostbite in our toes. (If they feel like they are on fire, it’s time to change venues.)

13. We ate Poutine.


Yes. I know. We are vegetarians. In our defence, this is exactly the weather that hot chips with cheese curds and gravy were invented to fend off – (If you attempt to eat this in a climate where it doesn’t cost 1200 calories to keep warm, then your heart just stops.) and if you think that gravy contains, has ever contained or went anywhere near any real meat in it’s whole life, then you have a better opinion of poutine bought on the street than I do. (By a lot.)

14. We skated the whole of the Rideau Canal, and back.




15km of skating, plus more for looking for each other, looking for food, investigating the rest stops and skating to bathrooms. (Rideau Canal tip: Do not use the porta-potties on Dow’s lake. Skate further along to the “Capitol Choice” display and use the bathrooms by the hot chocolate place. While going up and down that ramp on your skates is hard (and not warm, by any description), there are no words to describe how cold the toilet seats are in the outdoor potties. Worth the extra kilometres.)

15. Drive home in the snow


16. Knit the whole time.


(I’ll tell you tomorrow what I decided to do with the seams.)

17. Drink beer. (No picture.)

It’s hard to get more Canadian than that.