Monday, February 1, 2010
Winter Sports in the Great White North
You can't get a much colder example of a Canadian winter than Edmonton, Alberta.
The picture is of my parents, Bert Davies and Ruth Bellamy, skating on the North Saskatchewan River about 1937. My Dad was wearing speed skates and my Mom was wearing men's tube skates. People in Edmonton were not restricted to skating on the river but when conditions were right it was fun to be able to skate in one direction for a long stretch, especially with the long-bladed speed skates. There were several open-air ice rinks in the city parks with a heated building to change into skates and my father's grandfather and uncles managed many of these rinks. When the first artificial ice plant was installed at the Edmonton arena, my great-grandfather, Amos Crockett, was manager of the arena and had the rights to the concession. My Dad worked there sharpening skates.
My parents also went skiing down the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Edmonton is situated in the prairies and the only sizable hills were on the riverbank. For every trip down the hill there was the long trek back up carrying the skis because there were no lifts or rope tows.
Although not a sport, another winter activity was the horse-drawn sleigh ride. My parents met on a sleigh ride put on by a young-peoples group of Norwood United Church in 1935. Mom was only sixteen and Dad was twenty-one. Times were simpler then but it sounded like they had a lot of fun in spite of the cold Edmonton winters.