Winter To-Do List

This week Ontario’s Groundhog Wiarton Willie forecasted an early spring, but the consensus among his buds was six more weeks of this cold stuff. With the end-of-winter countdown on (and snow finally on the ground), here are six outdoor activities to knock off your “I Love Winter” list.

Skating: It’s an obvious choice since the City of Toronto boasts 52 outdoor rinks with free public and drop-in shinny. My kids haven’t warmed up to the sport but I hope some of these sheets of ice will motivate them to lace up. Ice time called for: the cozy loop at Evergreen Brick Works; the big figure-eight trail at Etobicoke’s Colonel Sam Smith Park and the 1.5-km skating trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville.

Curling: Hmmm, kids throwing rocks. All good if you’re teaching them one of Canada’s major past times. This year the City of Toronto and Toronto Curling Association partnered up to offer free community curling at two outdoor locations (Harry Gairey Artificial Ice Rink near Bathurst and Dundas and West Mall Rink in Etobicoke.) Reserve online. Equipment is free of charge. Or if you’re more of a DIY-er, do like this Junction resident and create your own backyard bonspiel.

Walking and climbing: I’ve been wishing for a pair of snowshoes with this recent dump of snow. There are super cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails 1-2 hours outside the city. But you can ditch the drive and find an in-town path. Check this round-up for spots to snowshoe in the city. And for the more ambitious – and you will have to leave town for this – ice climbing.

Ice Fishing: This activity makes me nostalgic. (I am uncertain I spent any of my childhood in a hut on a frozen lake waiting for a fish to bite.) But if you feel the same tug, there are some ice fishing options and huts for rent on Lake Simcoe. If your little anglers are more fair-weather fishermen, you can keep it local (and indoors) at the Spring Fishing and Boating Show.

Sweet tasting: The Maple Syrup Festivals across the province kick off end of February and run into the first week of April. While the maple goodness is the main draw, many of these sugar shack experiences take place in conservation areas. We loved exploring the Birds of Prey at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre at Maple Town.

Yurt sleeping: Winter camping anyone? Many Ontario Parks have yurts for rent. They are equipped with heaters, beds and often have outdoor propane BBQs and fire pits. (Not to mention trails at your front door,) For less camping and more drinking (without Kids in TOw), spend some time in the cozy yurt at Ceili’s Cottage on Queen St. East.

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