Battle of the H2O: Bottled vs. Tap

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Bottled water is incredibly convenient. You can purchase it almost anywhere nowadays. When out and about, bottled water is the healthy choice among the sugary sodas, juices, and energy drinks that fill up the aisles of grocery stores. For many people across the world, bottled water continues to be the only safe source of drinking water. In a place like Edmonton, clean tap water is available in abundance. However, it is not uncommon to encounter people who refuse to drink anything but their favourite brand of bottled water. Is bottled water better than tap water? Let’s examine the difference in taste, quality, cost, and environmental impact of bottled vs. tap water.


Many people also would argue that bottled water tastes better and is cleaner than tap water. I had a friend in university that refused to drink tap water and would buy cases of bottled water instead. To see if he actually preferred bottled water we put the tap to the test. Without telling him which glass was bottled water and which glass was tap water, we got him to choose the water that he thought tasted the best. Believe it or not, he was certain that the glass full of tap water was of superior taste. After that experiment he finally accepted that tap water was not actually so bad, and may even taste better than the bottled water that he was constantly buying. This test has been replicated many times by scientists, classrooms, and curious citizens and there is no definitive answer. Some people prefer the taste of bottled water and some people prefer tap water. One study looking directly at premium water brands (including Fiji and Evian) found that people preferred the regular tap water to these brands, which are relatively expensive. Taste preference is extremely personal, so try your own blind taste test to see if you actually preferred bottled water or tap water. The answer may surprise you.


Surprisingly, bottled water is often of lower quality than tap water. Municipalities have very strict standards for tap water and test on a regular basis. Bottled water does not have the same standards or testing, and might not meet the same safety regulations as tap water. While bottled water is not allowed to have arsenic, lead, coliform bacteria, or poisonous substances in it under the Food and Drug Act, there are no regulations on any other water contaminants. Tap water undergoes much more rigorous and long-term testing to ensure that the water is contaminant-free under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water. One of the contaminants that is becoming more common in bottled water is microplastic, which is being studied for impacts on the liver and the endocrine system. Also, up to 45% of bottled water in Canada comes from the same sources as municipal tap water, so you might actually be drinking tap water that has been bottled. There is very little evidence to suggest that bottled water is higher quality than tap water.
That being said, there are approximately 1000 drinking water advisories across Canada on any given day. In these communities there is a significant threat to the drinking water, meaning that you either cannot drink the tap water or that you must boil the tap water prior to drinking it. First Nations communities are disproportionately affected by drinking water advisories in Canada. Also, Canada has been home to a massive drinking water catastrophe in Walkerton, Ontario, where 7 people died and thousands of people got sick from E. coli contamination in the tap water. Since this event from 2000, Canada has stricter testing to avoid other potential contaminations. It is worth noting that historically there have been problems with Canadian tap water and safe, clean tap water is not available to all Canadians.  


It will come as no surprise that bottled water is more expensive than tap water. It costs about $0.001 per litre of tap water, and anywhere from about $0.16 to $5.00 per litre of bottled water. People are paying 160% to 5,000% more for bottled water! When the tap water is not potable (meaning not good to drink) it can be very expensive for a family or a community to purchase bottled water instead.

Environmental Impact

There are many factors that demonstrate that bottled water has a greater environmental impact than tap water. First off, it takes at least twice the amount of water to make a plastic bottle of water than it does to fill a bottle with tap water since it takes water to make plastic. Second, bottled water takes over 2000 times more energy to produce than tap water. Third, bottled water produces billions of bottles every year, and only about 10% of plastic waste is recycled in Canada, meaning that the other 90% is sent to landfills or is in the environment on land or in waterbodies. It takes about 500 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose, and instead of breaking down, plastic breaks up into little pieces of microplastic, which are shown to have significant impacts on ecosystem health.


Where To Fill Up

If you want to drink tap water but don’t like the taste you can use a water filter, such as an activated carbon filter, to remove impurities and soften the water. But when out and about, it is becoming easier to fill up your own bottle. Airports, schools, and malls are starting to have more bottle stations where you can fill up. When leaving the house make sure that you have your keys, wallet, and water bottle. By making your reusable water bottle the regular habit instead of buying plastic water bottles, you are saving money, reducing your environmental impact, likely drinking better quality water, and you may actually prefer the taste without realizing it! Next time that you purchase bottled water, ask yourself why you prefer bottled to tap and reassess your drinking water preferences.
PS: if you need a new water bottle, there are Swim Drink Fish bottles available here


Wildlife Corridors: Pathways for Biodiversity

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Humans have adapted diverse forms of transportation over the years. We have travelled by boats, horses, bicycles, cars, airplanes, skateboards, ATVs, segways, and SO many more. Personally, I’m still waiting for the true Back to the Future-style hoverboards. Evidently, there is a plethora of human strategies for moving around.


Now for a moment, imagine that you do not have access to any of these strategies. Instead, picture that you have a specific physiological adaptation that influences how you get from place to place. Maybe you have specialized fins, or wings, or move around on 4 legs, or 100 legs, or slither around without legs. Once you have imagined yourself as another creature, now think about moving around. How do you find food? What barriers do you encounter? How do you avoid predators? Where do you sleep? How do you get from place to place?


During this little exercise, where were you picturing yourself? Most of the time, we imagine that wildlife lives exclusively in the wild. But our world is not separated into wilderness and not. Wildness is integrated with the non-natural almost everywhere on Earth.


Edmonton is no exception. Edmonton is home to many diverse creatures. Some of them you might see on a daily basis. Animals like magpies, pigeons, and squirrels are very well adapted to city life. But many other creatures have a more difficult life in the built environment. It is especially challenging for these critters to move around in cities. Many species require soil, water, trees, bushes, etc. for defence, food, sleep, and displacement. Fortunately, animals in Edmonton have large natural spaces to roam around right in the city. These regions are pathways for biodiversity known as wildlife corridors.



Wildlife Corridors


A wildlife corridor is a type of nature pathway for animal habitats. Like a highway, flightpath, bike trail, or hallway, these are the paths that critters use to move around, particularly in urban locales. These corridors are becoming increasingly important as cities continue to encroach on what was once considered natural terrain. Pockets of nature are absolutely essential for plants and animals to thrive in cities. Edmonton has one of the largest continuous urban wildlife corridors: the North Saskatchewan River Valley. Edmonton’s River Valley is home to some fascinating species. Animals like coyotes, porcupines, deer, and peregrine falcons live in the river valley, where the abundance of green space makes for easy travel.  


When visiting the river valley, you are likely to stumble upon some of these creatures. There are some prime photo ops along this wildlife corridor. Watching and photographing animals is definitely encouraged, but there are some things that you should and shouldn’t do when in contact with animals.


Don’t feed them

Wild animals might seem really happy to gobble down treats, but in the long run it’s not good for them or us. Unfortunately many birds in urban areas that are fed by people eat too much and cannot fly long distances. This means that they would be unable to migrate for the winter, which is a threat to their lives. Many animals including squirrels, coyotes, and geese can become over-reliant on humans for food. When people feed wild animals, it can lead to aggressive behaviour, malnutrition, overpopulation, and an increase in fecal matter in the water and on land.



                                                                 Give them some space

Getting too close to wildlife can stress them out and put you at risk. For their wellbeing and for yours, don’t approach wildlife. Animals can hurt people when they get too close, often acting in self-defence. While on the other hand, some animals become too accustomed to human interactions. Over time they lose their natural instincts when becoming too comfortable with human contact. They might lose vital instincts that keep them from predators, that help them to hunt, or that allow them to reproduce. Experts recommend staying 100 meters away from wildlife like cougars, coyotes, and wolves (about the length of a football field) and 30 meters away from other large wildlife like deer (approximately the width of a hockey rink). For smaller animals, avoid touching them and give them a wide space bubble so as to not stress them out. Animal selfies might sound like a good idea, but are detrimental to the long-term health of the wildlife. Selfies are great, animal pictures are great, just try not the mix the two!




Keep track of your pets

While exploring wildlife corridors, make sure that you know where your dog is at all times and make sure to keep your dog on a leash. Coyote-dog interactions can become quite aggressive, and either animal can get injured in these encounters. To ensure that your pet and the wild animal remain free from harm, keep your dog on a leash and always make sure that you have an eye on them. It is also a good idea to keep tabs on your cats. Cats are responsible for an estimated 200 million bird fatalities in Canada. When they are off hunting, cats can do serious harm to local bird populations. Make sure to always keep track of your pets when they are off exploring the homes of our diverse wildlife.



Appreciate the wonders of nature

To get the most out of your nature explorations, make sure to take in all of the beauty that exists in our world. Spending time outdoors surrounded by plants and wildlife is proven to improve our physical and mental health. There are fantastic trails across Edmonton for biking, jogging, hiking, and birding, as well as excellent spots to get down to the water for paddling and swimming. Get outside whenever possible, whether it’s to visit the river valley, the rocky mountains, the boreal forest, the badlands, or the plains. The prairies are home to diverse plants, animals, and terrain that are just waiting to be explored. The only thing missing is you.




Featured image Jeff Wallace / Flickr

Deer photo Robert Walsh / Pixabay

Pigeon photo Rudy and Peter Skitterians / Pixabay

Cat photo rihaij / Pixabay

Why Do Humans Love Water?

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Seeking out waterbodies is built into our DNA. They bring us joy, calm, fascination, and memories. My favourite moments are spent by the water. Like watching waves crash and slither back with the tides. Feeling the force of a river push back on my fingertips as I dip them in the water. Treading water in a lake until my legs get sore and tired.


Water is beautiful, water is precious, and water is life. Without water, humans can only survive two days to a week. We need water to survive, so of course we inherently like it. But that fact alone doesn’t explain our fascination with coastlines, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. About 90% of all people live near a body of freshwater. While the need for something to drink is clearly a leading reason for our proximity to freshwater, there’s something else at play.


Spending time by water has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, to make people feel happier, and to improve health.



How can water have such a strong power over us?


There are lots of different theories as to why people are drawn to H2O. Potentially, we feel a strong kinship to water as it’s our home. Water is the reason life exists and the location where all life on Earth originated billions of years ago. Therefore, returning to water is comparable to returning home. Much like the joy of coming home after being away for a long time, we experience happiness and health when we return to the water.  



Another reason could be the benefits that our ancestors profited from when their lives were heavily tied to waters. It’s hypothesized that our big brains were able to grow due to our heavy reliance on omega-3 rich seafood. During human evolution fish, crabs, and molluscs provided human ancestors with exponential brain growth, enabling us to thrive.



Regardless of the reasons, we are forever bonded to water. By our desire to swim, skate, paddle, and spend time near water. By the need to drink water to live healthily. By the benefits that fish have provided us with as we have evolved and continue to evolve. Swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters are a part of who we are, and absolutely essential to protect for our future.




Trash Tales

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A plastic water bottle falls upon the river valley trail. Its owner was aiming for the recycling bin, but missed, initiating this bottle’s journey to new lands. A wind gust pushes the cylinder down the steep valley. It rolls uncontrollably, smashing into trees on its journey through the forest. Tall grasses trap the bottle on a ledge overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. Rain starts to pour down, dislodging the bottle from its new home and it falls into the river with a splash. Slowly, very slowly, it breaks down over the next 450 years. As pieces break from the bottle, inquisitive fish taste the small shards of plastic, while other fragments settle in with the sand along the banks of the river as the bottle’s remains journey over 1,000 kilometers towards Lake Winnipeg, and eventually the Hudson Bay.



This story is made up, yet water pollution is a very real threat. The banks of the North Saskatchewan River are beautiful places to be enjoyed. However, they are also home to plenty of garbage that threatens the quality of the North Saskatchewan River. Plastic pollution is a particularly large threat to the diverse aquatic species living in the river. Microplastics have been found in almost every waterbody, have been consumed by almost all aquatic species, and have been found in tap water in Europe, Japan, and Russia. These plastic pieces 5mm or smaller come from microfibers in clothing, plastic pellets for manufacturing, microbeads that used to be in toothpaste and body wash, and break from larger pieces of plastic. Plastic harbours harmful microbes as well as chemical pollutants including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyls (PBDEs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be harmful to the aquatic species consuming them, as well as humans ingesting impacted water and fish.



Less than 9% of all plastic that’s ever been made has been recycled. Therefore, the remaining 91% are housed in landfills, are incinerated, are found in bodies of water, or are located in other environments. Instead of dwelling on the plastic that’s not recycled, let’s shift our focus towards recycling. Edmonton has a massive waste processing facility called the Edmonton Waste Management Centre (EWMC) which offer free tours of their recycling and garbage processes. To learn about how recycling works and what happens to waste that’s being diverted from the river, Riverkeeper joined a tour of the centre.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


Who knew recycling could be so complex? Recyclables collected at the EWMC are sorted at the Materials Recovery Facility into the different categories including paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and plastic type. It was eye opening to learn that the recycling industry is driven by its own market and economy. When there are people willing to buy the items being recycled they will get recycled. But there are challenges in finding demand for some types of hard-to-recycle (or expensive-to-recycle) materials. When there is no demand for a recyclable, they often end up in landfills or sent to other facilities at the EWMC. 



The 3 Rs that we are taught in elementary school are increasingly important as the quantity of waste continues to grow. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s no mystery that the order matters. Reducing consumption is the most important R. Rethinking every time we make a purchase might make us reconsider what we need in our lives. Reducing comes next but is also super important. For example, using a reusable water bottle saves water since plastic water bottles take over double the water to make. But finally we can recycle and properly dispose of our waste to make sure that our amazing river can be trash-free!


Join Riverkeeper this Spring and Summer for river valley cleanups to make sure that the garbage making its way towards the river is diverted and properly disposed of. Sign up for our newsletter above to stay informed of upcoming cleanups. The next time you are visiting the river valley, bring a garbage bag to keep our source of water (and life) clean. If you find pollution that you can’t clean up, report it on the Swim Guide and participate in an exciting and important citizen science initiative




Is There An Unlimited Supply of Water?

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It’s no secret that the Blue Planet has a lot of water. Approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, amounting to about 1,386,000,000,000,000,000,000 L. This amount is so large, it’s hard to even imagine. The amount of water on Earth is equal to 554 trillion Olympic-sized swimming pools and could cover the surface of the moon 9 times.


Now that’s a lot of space for breaststroke!


Despite this astronomical quantity of water, only a tiny proportion of that water isn’t salty. An estimated 3.5% of all water on our beautiful blue planet is freshwater. This water can be found in lakes, rivers, water vapour, ice, glaciers, and groundwater. However, less than 1% of Earth’s water is considered accessible freshwater, since water locked away in icebergs and glaciers is not easy to get to.



Human bodies are 50-65% water and rely on it to survive and thrive. Water is a vital resource to all forms of life. Without freshwater, we (along with countless plants and animals) would cease to exist.


Water is life.


20% of the Earth’s freshwater is located in Canada. However, when considering renewable water in Canada, that piece of the freshwater pie shrinks dramatically. Canada houses about 7% of the world’s renewable freshwater. Water can be renewable or nonrenewable since water is replenished at different rates. Waters from rivers and some sources of groundwater are barely depleted, as they are rapidly regenerated by the water cycle (flashback to elementary school science class). But Canada is also home to deep underground aquifers, glaciers, and lakes that take a long time to replenish through the water cycle, specifically longer than a year. These types of water are not always where we want them when we want them, and are therefore considered nonrenewable.



Where is Canada’s water? While 85% of the population lives in the South, over half of Canada’s water flows North towards the Hudson Bay and Arctic Ocean. Suddenly this seemingly endless supply of water starts to appear more and more scarce to those who need it. It may be easy to take water for granted as it flows continuously from our taps. But water is precious, and is extremely important to protect.


The Blue Bristles

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Walking though Edmonton in the winter you’ve probably seen them. Maybe you’ve wondered where they come from. Perhaps you’ve even wondered where they go. I definitely wondered what they were and why they are all over the place. What are they? The blue bristles.

In the winter, one of Edmonton’s snow removal strategies are snow sweepers that brush away snow. These sweepers are quite effective at sweeping away light ice and snow, which is important for keeping the sidewalks safe. However, through the process of clearing the streets, these brooms also shed their bristles, littering the snow with blue plastic pieces. These bristles are made of a dense recycled plastic, which is very effective at sweeping snow, but not as effective at remaining on the sweepers.

While walking to work in the winter, I stroll along a path cleared by these sweepers. This path is located on the corner of Gateway Blvd and 86th Ave NW, creating a shortcut through End of Steel Park. While I enjoy the lack of deep snow on the path, I find myself picking up these blue plastic bristles that line the sides of the sidewalk. The first day that I noticed them, I picked up 30 blue plastic bristles, which resemble a thick blue plastic coffee stir stick. Following the next snowfall, I collected another 29. The next day I picked up 15. Then, this morning I picked up another 35. You might be reading this wondering why I feel the need to pick up all of these bristles. The first time that I had heard of the blue bristles was during a river valley cleanup in which we found a collection of them along a sewer outfall. These bristles are small enough to fall through the storm drains, and are washed out into the river with stormwater. I have taken it upon myself to pick up these bristles to divert them from their fate in the North Saskatchewan River, and if possible I would encourage you to do the same. By picking up these blue bristles you can help to keep them out of the river, where they can harm fish and wildlife. The city of Edmonton is exploring other ways to clear snow and ice in the winter. While these sweepers are the most cost effective way of keeping our pathways clear from snow, they are not free from environmental impact. If you see blue plastic bristles along your paths, pick them up and throw them in the garbage to save them from ending up in the river.

It takes a long time for plastic to decompose. As plastics break down they don’t disappear right away, they break into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic absorbs bacteria, microbes, and chemicals, and can harm fish and wildlife that consume them. Hopefully Edmonton will discover a biodegradable version of these bristles that will have less of an impact on the river. But, for now I’ll keep picking up these bristles and I hope that you can too, and together we can help to keep the river free from these blue plastic bristles! A student group at NAIT is studying the impacts of these bristles, so if you are collecting them please contact us to share your blue bristle data (even if it’s not 5 kilograms like this Edmonton citizen).


Water Literacy: What is it And Why Does it Matter?

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Water is one of the fundamental human necessities. We consume it every day to survive. Most of us choose to live near water. Many of us have a love for water. But do we know water? Do we understand water? Are we water literate?

Someone can be financially literate, digitally literate, artistically literate, or literate in any number of diverse topics. To be considered literate in a subject, you can understand specific jargon, be able to proficiently express yourself in that topic, and recognize when something is or is not working properly. Similarly, you can be water literate.



A water literate person understands water terminology, is aware of events affecting bodies of water, and can read the water. Generally, it means that you know where your water comes from, how you use and affect the water around you, and can recognize and report threats to water. If you know and understand water, and are therefore water literate, you can contribute to keeping it swimmable, drinkable, and fishable.

When you are water literate, you are able to make choices that protect your waterbody. As a result, you may find improvements to your sense of wellbeing and to your physical and mental health. With a community of people that are able to understand their waterbody, people are better able to care for it. A water literate community can bond over their passion and knowledge of water. While working to protect swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water, a community may find they are simultaneously strengthening their relationships, creating social bonds that benefit the water as well as the people relying on it.



The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is working to build a water literate community. If you are still on the search for a resolution, why not strive to inform yourself on water literacy? There are many useful materials available for those looking to become water literate. Through reading articles, watching videos, staying up to date with the news, and by visiting local bodies of water, you can learn interesting, important, and surprising facts while improving your understanding of water. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with the latest water literacy information.

Looking for a New Year’s Resolution? Become a Water Guardian!

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Canadians overwhelmingly care about their waters. We can think about fond memories of time spent by our waterbodies. We appreciate the safety and cleanliness of our drinking water. We can enjoy the splendour of seeing aquatic wildlife thriving in their habitat. But the real question is: do Canadians care for their waters?


Caring for water is not only enjoying what water provides us, but enabling it to thrive by protecting it. In other words, caring for water is becoming a water guardian. Water guardians are protectors of our lakes, rivers, and streams. Becoming a water guardian can seem like a daunting task, but it takes easy habits to make a significant difference. There are the 6 important steps (in any order) that can help you become a steward for your waters:


  1. Spend more time on the water more often
  2. Discover your connection to water and share it with a Watermark story
  3. Join a water community (like the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper and Swim Drink Fish)
  4. Learn the basics about your local waters
  5. Document what you see on the water (take photos, submit pollution reports, share on Swim Guide)
  6. Participate in decision-making when it affects your waterbody


One of the best ways to protect your waters is to get to the water. Spending time on the water can help to form a connection. This connection leads to care and will create experiences with waterbodies. Sharing those experiences through stories via the Watermark Project contributes to an important database of water stories. Joining a water community, even if it’s family and friends, and having events by the water or about the water can help to protect it. There are also many groups and organizations that you can join to form a water community. By caring for water, it can lead to a general interest in water, so you will seek out information about your body of water (like the information in this blog). By becoming informed, you are able to recognize when something is wrong with your waterbody, such as recognizing pollution, and have the abilities to report problems to the Swim Guide. There are also opportunities to share your opinion on how your waterbody is managed in order to keep it swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Most waterbodies have decision-making groups and events that you can get involved with to protect your waters. For example, the city of Edmonton often has public engagement opportunities like open houses and online surveys for you to voice your opinion on decision-making that impacts the North Saskatchewan River. Be sure to engage in some or all of these 6 behaviours to care for your waterbody.


As 2019 approaches, we are faced with the annual tradition of selecting our resolutions. This year, why not strive to become a water guardian? These habits are very attainable and benefit not only your favourite waterbodies, but you as well. There are numerous health benefits to spending time in nature with an engaged and informed community that document what they see and participate in decision making. Choose one water guardian behaviour at a time, and watch your watershed thrive!


May your 2019 be filled with swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waters.

Happy New Year!

Skate Your Way Across the Prairies at These 5 Majestic Skating Rinks

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As the chill of winter sweeps across the prairies, our memories of summer water sports seem distant. But instead of reminiscing of warm days spent by the water, why not warm your heart with one of Canada’s favourite winter activities? It’s that time of year where we dig through our storage to grab our skates. Waterbodies across the prairies are solidifying into stunning crystallized rinks for us to glide on. To make the most of this season, lace up your skates and twirl your way across the prairies’ most beautiful and inviting skating rinks.


The Forks Red River Mutual Trail

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You know it’s winter in the heart of Winnipeg when locals strap their skates on and head to the Red River Mutual Trail! Want to be one of them? Skate rentals are available at @theforkswinnipeg market for $5 ($3 for children). Don’t worry if ⛸️ isn’t your thing, there’s walking paths too. While you explore the trail, make sure to stop at one of its 6 unique warming huts. These one-of-kind structures are in fact art installations created by architects for the trail’s annual art and architecture competition on ice. One of our favourite huts this year is, “Greetings from Bubble Beach” an inviting inverted snow globe! 📷 @sierrasavannahf 📍@TourismWinnipeg, @TravelManitoba #ExploreCanada . La scène hivernale par excellence au cœur de Winnipeg? Des gens du coin chaussés de patins et rassemblés sur le Sentier d’hiver de la rivière Rouge! Envie de vous joindre à eux? Louez des patins à 5 $ (3 $ pour les enfants) au marché @TheForksWinnipeg. Vous êtes plutôt du type randonnée que ⛸? Il y a des sentiers pour vous aussi! Pendant que vous explorez les lieux, ne manquez pas de prendre une pause dans l’une des six huttes chauffées. Ces structures uniques en leur genre sont en fait des installations artistiques créées par des architectes pour le concours annuel d’art et d’architecture sur glace du Sentier. Cette année, nous avons un faible pour l’accueillante hutte « Salutations depuis la plage des bulles », une boule à neige inversée! 📷 : @sierrasavannahf 📍 : @TourismWinnipeg @TravelManitoba #OnlyInThePeg #ExploreMB

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Winnipeg hosts the impressive Red River Mutual Trail that reached 10 km in length last year! This expansive skating rink is the longest IN THE WORLD! Even longer than the Rideau Canal. There was also a Guiness World Record broken on this rink for the longest skating chain, with close to 400 people holding hands while skating. The trail is speckled with unique and architecturally impressive warm-up tents, as well as food vendors and ice activities such as curling hockey, and broomball. This year they are building Pavillion Sub-Zero, an amphitheatre on the rink that will be featuring music, including that of Norwegian ice musician Terje Isunget. Check out the winning hut designs for 2019 here! The skating trail is located at the fork of the Red River and Assiniboine River, hosting over 4 million visitors every year.


Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink


Skating in Saskatoon is a splendid sight. One of Canada’s most spectacular rinks must be the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink. Overlooking the South Saskatchewan River valley, this Bessborough rink is beloved by Saskatonians and tourists alike. Don’t have a pair of skates? Never fear! This rink has on-the-spot skate rentals by donation. Getting chilly? There’s a warming shack with a wood stove to defrost your toes. Test out your triple axels (or just try not to fall) on this well-lit rink in the heart of Saskatoon. It opened on December 18th, so now the only thing missing from this picturesque rink is you!


Olympic Plaza Calgary


The 1988 Calgary Olympics didn’t only bring home 5 medals for Canada (shoutout to our President Karen Percy Lowe for winning 2 of them), it also brought some famous infrastructure. What was once the Olympic medal ceremony venue is now one of Calgary’s most beloved skating rinks. The Olympic Plaza, located in downtown Calgary, is still used for activities year-round! You never have to worry if it’s cold enough in the winter, thanks to the refrigerated surface ensuring skating from November to March. The urban setting makes for lovely scenery framed by skyscrapers and public art. Grab a warm beverage from one of the numerous cafés in the area (Phil & Sebastian, Rosso Coffee Roasters, Deville, Good Earth…) and skate to your heart’s content!


Victoria Park Iceway

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 🇨🇦

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Edmonton has a majestic rink straight out of a fairytale. Skate your way through the river valley along the tree-lined Victoria Park Iceway. At night, the colourful lights guide you through the twisted path off of the Victoria Park Oval. This magical maze is nestled in the forest of Victoria Park, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River while being a short distance from downtown Edmonton. Be sure to bring a camera, because the kaleidoscopic lights make for some stunning pictures!


Lake Louise, Alberta


It sounds like a dream to skate while surrounded by 360 degrees of towering mountains. The spectacular Lake Louise freezes in the winter to become the ultimate winter wonderland! If you’ve ever visited during the summer, it is dramatically different when frozen, but just as spectacular. The summer’s turquoise waters transform into pristine ice. This wanderlust-fantasy-come-true is situated in Banff National Park. It comes as no surprise that this skating rink has been named the World’s Best Skating Rink. You can enjoy the majestic mountainous backdrop during the day, or under the twinkling stars (and rink lights) at night. If the Rockies aren’t picturesque enough for you, they also build an ice castle from blocks of ice directly on the skating rink every year.


Tag us in your skating photos this winter for the chance to be featured on our social media pages @saskriverkeeper on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Happy skating!

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