Toronto: A Winter Recreational Wonderland

By David Dunkelman

Once you’ve embraced the idea that winter is here and is not going away until spring, take a deep breath — and take in the beauty of  Toronto after a fresh snowfall with the bright sun reflecting off the frozen tundra. Then, get outdoors and enjoy some of the best recreational opportunities Toronto has to offer. Toronto offers a plethora of winter activities for people of all ages right across the city. Many of these involve little or no cost, which is a nice bonus and should warm the heart, if not your pocketbook.

Why not start with an old favourite — tobogganing? The hardest part about this pass time is choosing your toboggan. Do you go with the traditional sled or the simple synthetic carpet, or do you go all out and get a supped-up racer with a steering wheel? Simply head out to your local Canadian Tire, WalMart or toy or hardware store to discover the different types available and make your purchase.

Once you have your toboggan, choose from among Toronto’s favourite hills and many great runs at Toronto parks. In Downtown Toronto you’ll find runs at Trinity Bellwoods Park, Bickford Park and Christie Pitts. In West Toronto High Park and Rennie Park are tops. Centennial Park and West Deane Park are popular spots for tobogganing in Etobicoke. In Midtown, Balfour Park at the Rosehill Reservoir and Cedarvale Park are both great for kids. In North Toronto there are terrific toboggan runs at Sherwood Park, as well as starter runs at Lawrence Park and at Otter Creek. North York residents know to check out Earl Bales Park. East Toronto has the most famous toboggan hill in the city at Riverdale Park East, where tobogganers enjoy spectacular views of the city skyline. Greenwood Park also has some nice starter runs for young kids. In Scarborough Adams Park and Thomson Memorial Park are popular.

Tobogganing can be great exercise and great fun for the whole family, but please remember to have the little ones wear helmets. Stay alert and be aware not to toboggan anywhere near trees or other objects that can obstruct the path of a toboggan and cause injuries, and be respectful about sharing the hills with other toboganners so that there are no unnecessary collisions.

If tobogganing is not your thing, maybe skiing or snowboarding is. No need to drive all the way up north — you can do those right here in the city. Toronto has two public ski hills at Earl Bales Ski & Snowboard Centre (Earl Bales Park, 4169 Bathurst Street) in North York and Centennial Park Ski and Snowboard Centre (Centennial Park, 256 Centennial Park Road) in Etobicoke. Both centres offer a variety of programs for all ages and skill levels. Private lessons and clinics are available. There is also a March Break camp. Limited rentals are available on-site for skis and equipment. For those who cannot get away during the day or weekend, there are even opportunities for night skiing.

If hills (and going down them) are not your thing, there is always ice skating, the great Canadian pastime. Toronto has a myriad of indoor and outdoor facilities where you can lace up and skate to your heart’s content. Leisure skate programs and schedules vary from rink to rink but can include the following: Parent and Tot Skate, Youth/Teen Skate, Adult Skate, Older Adult Skate, Family Skate, Public Skate (all ages) and even shinny hockey. The Public and Family Skate is free for all ages. There is a $3 fee for the adult skate in the indoor arenas only. In addition to leisure skating Toronto’s ice rinks can be booked for pickup hockey and birthday parties. Of course, organized hockey leagues and skating clinics are also part of the mix.

A glistening sheet of ice newly groomed by a Zamboni in one of Toronto’s indoor arenas is as smooth a skate as you will find. Indoor arenas are open for leisure skating programs from October through March. For the skating purist there is nothing like the thrill of skating outdoors, breathing fresh air and taking in the scenery. Night skating especially, with a light sprinkle of snow in the air, is simply magical. Cap it all off with a hot chocolate afterwards, and the outing is simply perfect. Toronto’s outdoor rinks are open from December 5, 2009 until February 28, 2010. Enjoy!

David Dunkelman is a Broker and ABR* with Royal Lepage R.E.S.Ltd/Johnston and Daniel Division.  David is also the Author of “Your Guide to Toronto Neighbourhoods”. *ABR* The Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®) designation is the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. This coveted designation is awarded to real estate practitioners by the Real Estate BUYER’S AGENT Council (REBAC) of the National Association of REALTORS® who meet the specified educational and practical experience criteria.


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