Oakville dad builds a backyard rink because there's no better place to play shinny

Every winter, Russell Gunner builds a backyard ice rink, just like his father did. This is his 10th.

This is his 10th, and 'the first thing that gets shovelled is the rink; the driveway is second'

Russell Gunner has built a backyard rink at his Oakville home for 10 years. (Grant Linton/CBC)

A game of shinny remains an uber-Canadian winter tradition. And there is no better place to play pickup hockey than in your own backyard.

Every winter, Russell Gunner builds a backyard ice rink, just like his father did. This is his 10th.

Gunner says the rink took nearly 40 hours over several days to fill. (Grant Linton/CBC)

"The kids loved hockey when they were younger. I thought, what better way of spending the winters than outside in a hockey rink?"

In fact, Gunner said he bought his Oakville, Ont., house partly because of its large lot — prime rink-building space.

Oakville's Russell Gunner shares why he built an ice rink in his backyard. 0:38

It takes an entire weekend, at least, to put up the yellow boards that Gunner scored after a local arena discarded them.

He scoops screws out of the pocket of his winter jacket and drills each one carefully.

"It's my hobby. It's my passion in the winter. I love it," he said.

"A lot of work goes into it every year."

Gunner picked up authentic boards after a local arena discarded them. (Grant Linton/CBC)

But it's worth it to see his sons, Adam, 13, and David, 16, out on the homemade ice.

"It's great fun," he said. "The boys are out here for hours and hours, weeknights and weekends, with a bunch of friends."

The backyard rink may put a dent in Gunner's water bill but it's worth it, he says. (Grant Linton/CBC)

The rink is 30 feet by 50 feet and took nearly 40 hours over several days to fill this year, according to Gunner. The rink tacks on about an additional $120 to his water bill, he said.

"[It] is quite a bit of water to fill up, unfortunately for the water bill, but it's a lot of fun."

Gunner built a scoreboard in honour of his late mother and dedicated the rink to her. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Gunner even built a scoreboard, a touching tribute to his late mother Jenny.

"It's not a working scoreboard but it looks pretty good," he said. "I fool most people with it."

Gunner said he checks the weather incessantly because "snow is the main enemy of the rink. It insulates the rink, makes it slush."

"The first thing that gets shovelled is the rink; the driveway is second," he said.

Gunner's work is well enjoyed over the winter.

"You can't beat it when [the boys] are outside in the middle of winter instead of the basement playing video games."