Nova Scotia·Photos

'Like magic': The mystery behind Wolfville's makeshift outdoor rink

A large pond that used to be the water supply for the Town of Wolfville, N.S., now supplies hours of winter fun as an outdoor rink dutifully maintained by a mystery community member.

The identity of the person maintaining the ice surface is unknown, except for their first name

The larger of two ponds in Wolfville's Reservoir Park has been transformed into a busy skating rink. (Submitted by Helen MacDonald)

A large pond that used to be the water supply for the Town of Wolfville, N.S., now supplies hours of winter fun as an outdoor rink dutifully maintained by a mystery community member.

The pond in Reservoir Park on Pleasant Street is about 120 metres by 50 metres, nearly twice the size of an NHL rink, according to CBC Information Morning's community contact Jill Davies.

She discovered the makeshift track not far from her house just after Christmas, although people have been lacing up their skates there for years.

Last year, someone began testing the ice conditions and posting the results online.

Families, university students and school groups make use of the free ice surface. (Submitted by Jill Davies)

"There was a wide swath that was clear all around one of the ponds, and several smaller rinks, and there are all kinds of people skating and I went, 'What is this?' It was fabulous," Davies said, adding the pond is often busy with families, pickup hockey teams and school groups.

Davies said no one seems to know who's behind clearing the large surface after snowfalls, except that his name might be Darryl.

Not knowing, she said, is part of the fun.

The pond is about 120 metres by 50 metres, nearly twice the size of an NHL-size ice surface, according to Jill Davies. (Submitted by David Dermott)

"It's kind of like magic actually," Davies said.

David Dermott, who lives in the area, first skated on the reservoir pond 20 years ago.

He's a big fan of skating on "wild ice," and said Nova Scotia's cycle of freeze-thaw weather makes for good skating conditions on ponds, lakes and rivers.

Skating on the pond isn't sanctioned by the town, which has put up a 'no skating' sign. (Submitted by Jill Davies)

"The snow melts down and refreezes and sometimes it freezes bumpy, but a lot of times it freezes quite smooth," he said.

Sometimes, Dermott is the only person out on the ice, but said he's heard that as many as 100 people have been on the pond at one time.

The ice surface isn't sanctioned by the town, which has put up a "no skating" sign.

But Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell said he's not overly concerned that people are choosing to ignore the warning.

There are two ponds in the park that are also popular swimming spots in the summer. (Submitted by Jill Davies)

"If they didn't skate there, they would find one somewhere else," he said.

Temperatures across the province are expected to rise this weekend, prompting Halifax Regional Municipality to remind skaters that conditions on ponds and lakes will likely deteriorate.

Ice should be at least 15-centimetres thick for people skating on their own and at least 20-centimetres thick for groups of people skating, according to the Canadian Red Cross.

On Feb. 2, the ice was more than 16 centimetres thick, according to the Wolfville Reservoir Ponds blog. (Submitted by Helen MacDonald)

Cantwell said the town hopes to build its own outdoor rink at some point. But for now, he's happy to know the people of Wolfville have somewhere to skate.

"I love the initiative as a resident in the area," he said. "It's just that if you're going to use it, be careful, be safe. Make wise choices."

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With files from CBC's Information Morning

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