Okay, I am going to tell you about my neighbourhoods best kept secret today. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone. It’s just between you and me.
Shaganappi Community is nestled in between Bow Trail and 17th ave in the S.W. and it is one of the most livable communities in the city. I am biased. I grew up here and have moved back as an adult with my husband and (almost) 2 year old daughter. Apparently I am not too biased though, Avenue Magazines ‘Best Neighborhoods in Calgary’ ranked Shaganappi 13th overall and ranked it as the friendliness neighborhood in the city. I would agree. It is the kind of community you only hear about. Neighbours know each other and community members come together to make great things happen. It’s quiet, safe and yet close to downtown. In fact, it seems close to everything, nestled in between a number of the city’s major routes.
Now, there are a lot of great things this community does throughout the year. A lot of best kept secrets to share. But this time of year there is a special one.
Shaganappi has one of the most lovely ice skating set ups I have ever seen. I spoke to one of the leaders in the community (who preferred to remain nameless, though anyone who lives here would know who he was) about the ice rink. He, along with a group of volunteers, have been building an ice rink for our community for 25 year now. For many of those years, there were one or two ice rinks, big enough for some hockey and some fun skating. However, since 2007, the community has had a new tractor with a 200 gallon water tank, called Bambini, which has allowed them to build this:
So now, in addition to a couple rinks, there is also a bunch of lovely ice paths to skate on as well. Which is great, because if there is a group playing hockey, there is lot of other places to skate as well. This picture was taken on Christmas Eve when my husband, Mother in Law and daughter went down the rink to check it out. I tried to skate. Can I just suggest that if you find a pair of skates in your garage that kinda fit but are a bit tight and you think, ah, these will be fine.… they won’t be. Trust me. Ouch. Despite my sore feet, My husband got a lot of laughs about watching me try to remember how to stake and we all got a nice walk on a mild winter evening.
The atmosphere down at the rink was what really struck me though. Families and kids staking. Parents pulling toddlers along the ice in little sleds. A game of hockey on one of the rinks. It feels like a community and the ideal picture of winter. Absolutely beautiful and certainly a best kept secret.
I want to acknowledge that setting up this rink is hard work and takes a lot of time. To get the ice in skating condition there needs to be at least 10 layers of ice and each time you put down a layer you have to let that layer freeze before you add another. This process can take four to five days. After the ice is set up, it also takes about 2 hours a day to maintain. This year there are 8 volunteers to worked to build and maintain this ice. I can tell you that these volunteers do this out of the goodness of their heart, their love of their community and, for the volunteer I spoke with, because “when I was growing up in my community as a kid one of my hero’s was the guy who looked after that rink.” On behalf of our community; Thank you!
The rink is for community members and guests, so if you live in the community make sure you are buying a membership so you are supporting the communities ongoing ability to have this ice rink (along with all the other things they do). For those who don’t live in the community, they don’t check membership, but just remember that it is a community, not a public, rink. I asked my source how to support the ice rink and the community and he suggested the following:
“The best way is to have FUN!
Make sure you buy your yearly membership.
Help keep it clean, safe and fun.
Shovel the snow off the rink.
Buy volunteers Lobster dinners etc.”
To find out more about Shaganappi, to buy a membership, offer to volunteer or support the community you can visit the website here.
Kathleen describes herself as a thinker, debater, politics geek, lover of ideas, environmentalist, preferrer of natural things, food and wine enthusiast, cook and baker and a self-reflective, self-critical person. She has an almost two year old daughter and works full time. She blogs about parenting, food, society and whatever else gets her thinking…. when she has “a moment 2 think“.