Friday, February 12, 2021

The history of outdoor winter rec in Kitchissippi/Ottawa!


For this month's Kitchissippi Times, I made a last-minute decision to switch topics and cover a more timely topic, which I thought would be interesting: the history of outdoor winter recreation. Since we've all been spending a lot more time at home, and with our young kids (thanks to the school closures), we've spent more time than usual exploring local rec options around home. And with a lot more 'traditional' activities, than usual, with the usual hockey leagues, skating classes, etc. all shuttered. I know I did more sledding in January than the last ten years combined. 

So it got me to thinking about what families and youths would have done for fun 100 or even 150 years ago, and how those activities grew over time. It got me digging in the pages of old Ottawa newspapers from the 1860s and 1870s to get that period feel for what the local amusements were, and what kids were doing locally, right here in Kitchissippi even, for fun. Some of it was dangerous, a lot of it you couldn't get away with now (like sledding down Somerset Street from Booth to the Somerset Bridge), and so much of it was part of what was then wide open spaces that were free for everyone to enjoy.

I also spend a bit of time covering how local sports leagues developed, and the importance of the local outdoor rinks back in the 20s, 30s and 40s. 

Enjoy! You can read the article here: 

Fisher Park winter carnival - February 1956
(City of Ottawa Archives, CA-36701)