Online map reveals Canada's hidden toboggan hills
The location of a neighbourhood’s best tobogganing hill is sometimes a well-guarded secret, passed between kids for generations.
Now, an Edmonton man has created an online tool to help sledders across the country find the best sledding runs in their area.
"I know every neighbourhood’s got their spot … and they always come up with great names for them too," said Charles Heard, a self-described "toboggan enthusiast."
"So I was curious where everyone else went.
Heard grew up taking his sled down hills around his home in west Edmonton.
"Having that little bit of control, but mostly out of control as you go down the hill is really just an exciting thrill," said Charles Heard.
A year ago, Heard started building a Google map to mark down his favourite sledding spots from his childhood. He soon opened it up to others in Edmonton, encouraging others to add their hidden hills.
This winter, he promoted the map online, trying to get other cities involved - and the response surprised him.
"Within a couple days it exploded. There was stuff from St. John’s to Victoria," he said.
"I haven't had a chance to check out the one's out of town, but I'm kind of excited."
Heard says in addition to dozens of entries across Canada, he’s also had a couple hills added from the U.S.
Aside from the number of people adding their own local runs, Heard says he’s amazed by the amount of information people add - warnings about obstacles, jumps and which hills are good for younger sledders.
He says the response just goes to show how much tobogganing is a part of Canadian life in winter. He’s even noticed that some people have taken to moving the markers off some of the most obscure runs - a sign that the habit of jealously guarding a secret toboggan hill is still alive and well.
"I wonder if someone is still trying to guard their spot."
Heard is now considering throwing a couple of sleds into his car to take a road trip to explore some of the other hills outside of Edmonton.
"Someone entered Mount Everest as one, so I don’t think I’ll be able to do that one. That’s a bit scary."
- The creator of the online toboggan hill map is Charles Heard. An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified him as Chris Heard.Jan 14, 2013 8:03 AM MT