Oakville dad builds a backyard rink because there's no better place to play shinny
This is his 10th, and 'the first thing that gets shovelled is the rink; the driveway is second'
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.
"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.
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."
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 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 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."