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The backyard rink that keeps on growing

'It takes a long time to fill up, I’ll tell you that,' says Thorold backyard rink builder

Ice skating and hockey are a favourite pastime for many Canadians, but for Thorold resident Chris Green it's building the skating rink itself.

“More and more people are doing it and I guess with COVID it gives you something to do in your backyard,” he says, showing his latest creation to ThoroldToday. “Everyone was putting in pools in the summer. Well, a lot of people were putting in backyard rinks.”

Green’s foray into backyard skating rinks began four years ago.

“We first started it just trying to freeze the snow in the backyard to give my son something to skate on,” he says. “He played hockey and we had a bunch of snow so we tried to flood it. It wasn’t great. The next year I looked up some stuff online and found a couple of groups on Facebook where I saw how guys were doing it and decided we can do this.”

Every year Green builds a wooden frame, puts in a tarp, and fills it with water.

“We usually build the frame of it in December and then I don’t fill mine up until all the leaves are gone—leaves are awful for it,” he says. “It takes a long time to fill up, I’ll tell you that.”

Every year, his skating rink has grown bigger and better.

“This year we talked to the kids and took down our really big tree house and we were able to widen the rink to go 32 feet by 20 feet,” he says. “Every year we kind of add a couple new things and figure out how to do it better.”

Green says the backyard skating rink has been an invaluable experience for his kids.

“It worked really well last year when the kids were homeschooling,” he says. “It gave them kind of that outlet when everything was shut down. And again with hockey shut down right now, they get to go on the ice and they love this, they’re out there for hours. We love to go out and watch them.”

Keeping the skating rink in tip-top shape takes a lot of work and dedication.

“Every time after they skate I’ll always resurface it,” Green says. “We got what they call a ‘homeboni.’ It’s a water rake with a towel on it and I have hot water that runs through and then I smooth it.”

According to Green, taking care of the rink is a meditative experience.

“It’s peaceful,” he says. “You go out there at 10 or 11 o’clock at night, it’s quiet to yourself, just go and resurface it. You get to see the results right away, you get to see something you’ve built.”

Even though the skating rink has gotten bigger every year, Green is not sure that that’s an option for next winter.

“I’m maxed out, unless I get a bigger backyard,” he says. “I’m going to put in some different lighting and I think I might go higher on the ends where the kids shoot at. Two feet is okay but if I can get it higher it’ll keep more pucks in the rink and it’ll mean I won’t have to go looking for them in the bushes.”

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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