Sure winter means scraping off windshields, expensive heating bills and flu pandemics. But that snow and ice also means something awesome: tobogganing.
Like many Canadian kids, tobogganing was a big part of my childhood winters. Soaked mittens, snow down the front of your shirt and exhausting marches up icy hills never felt so good. Each year as the snow piled higher, my brothers, sisters, cousins and friends would dig out all manner of sleds. These included:
- The Crazy Carpet – in addition to having zero control over it, this aptly named toboggan is nothing more than a thin piece of plastic, meaning your tailbone or genitals (depending on if you’re a headfirst or feet-first kind of person) will feel every jarring, icy bump along the way.
- The Saucer – similar to the crazy carpet in that you’ll have no control as you race down the hill, the saucer comes with the added bonus of constantly spinning. So if you do make it to the bottom you’ll probably do so facing the wrong way and slightly nauseated.
- The Old School – while they’ll generate more nostalgia than speed, these wooden classics with their curved fronts are the tanks of the hill.
- The Zellers Special – there’s nothing fancy about these plastic-moulded sleds. Cheap, flimsy but fast, you’ll likely leave chunks of these everyday toboggans scattered along the slopes.
- The GT Racer – these were far too hoity-toity for the Martin family. Skis and a steering wheel? Next you’ll tell me you get more than one marshmallow in your hot chocolate.
I was recently reminded of the awesomeness of sliding down snowy hills when some friends and I popped over to Chicopee Tube Park in Kitchener, Ontario. Unlike the rubbish I was used to tobogganing on, Chicopee provides comfy tubes that you can hurtle down the groomed trails in.
One of our runs at Chicopee:
And while the tough country boy in me was ready to trudge up the hill, a larger part of me was excited to see they had a conveyor belt to haul my out-of-shape butt to the top.
At $20 for two hours, the rates are reasonable and with six lanes to choose from, the waits were never too long. When it is your turn to go, the staff there are more than happy to give you a helping nudge, spinning you like a top as they do.
So yes, winters in Canada can be long, dark and cold. But they can also be awesome when you make the most of it. So pull on your snow pants and get out there. Earn that hot chocolate, dammit!