There are few Canadian pastimes more popular than heading down to a local arena, skating rink, or frozen body of water, and slapping on a pair of skates (or ‘ice skates’ as they are known to non-Canadians). Julie vanderMeulen of ToroLUG shows she has all the right moves) and all the right LEGO pieces) to put together these awesome blades of steel. The details on the laces and the blades are amazing, and the shaping of the whole foot itself is nothing short of remarkable.
Ice skating has multiple origins from all around the world, though the earliest archaeological evidence of ice skating appeared in Finland an estimated 3000-5000 years. These skates were not made of metal, but of bone, and did not allow people to skate so much as to simply glide on top of the ice. Tradition tells that the Iroquois used a similar style of bone skate as a means of transportation in the winter, making them the first skaters in Canada.
Once the Europeans arrived, French settlers in Acadia began using skates as early as 1604, and by the 1840s, officers in British garrisons were skating competitively as a form of recreation. Skating quickly began to take off from that point, with Canada’s first prepared outdoor rink came in Montreal in 1850, and the world’s first covered rink built in Quebec City just two years later.
In 1861, John Forbes of Dartmouth Nova Scotia developed the first spring-skate, which eliminated the need for screws and plates which formerly were used to fasten the steel skates to the wearers shoe.
Although the origins of hockey seem to be somewhat debated, the rules of modern ice hockey as we know it now were established by James Creighton in Montreal in 1875, with the first game organized between two teams of mostly students from McGill University. At the same time, figure skating was beginning to develop across Canada, with exhibitions staged in rinks across the country.
Different forms of competitive skating continued to developed throughout the 20th century, and with Canada’s naturally cold climate and large bodies of frozen water, Canadians spent the 20th century establishing themselves around the world as a major contender in all forms of skating.