Skating the Red River

This morning Dave and I skated down the Red River. During years when there are optimal weather conditions this icy path is the longest skating rink in the world. The path starts at The Forks where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. Traders, First Nations people, settlers and hunters have been meeting at The Forks for 6000 years. 

 We met our friend Les at The Forks. He has skated this river pathway many times and was our guide. Les normally skates this route at a much faster pace but he was patient with me. I hadn’t skated in over a decade and my old skates–still from my high school days– were a little tight and pinched my feet.  I was nervous about falling because with our warming weather conditions the ice has quite a few cracks, potholes and bumps. However I managed to stay upright traveling both ways along the river. 

One of the interesting things about skating down the Red River is checking out all the unique warming huts along the route where skaters can stop to rest, get out of the wind or re-lace their skates. These huts are the result of an annual international competition which has had up to 140 entries.  This hut is called Wind Catcher and was designed by Tina Soli and Luca Roncoroni from Norway. 

The designers said they wanted to create a kind of ‘hole in the wall’ piece that inspired curiosity with strong bright colors that contrasted with the white winter background. 

This hut was created by a quartet of designers from New York and is called Rope Pavilion. It has a birchwood frame and is woven with manila rope.

Here’s a uniquely shaped structure called Hot Hut created by students from the University of Manitoba. It is made of high density foam. 

Fir Hut was designed by Richard Kroeker. He was inspired by aboriginal designs and techniques. The Mi’kmaq people of Atlantic Canada taught Richard the art of thatching balsam fir. 

Five Hole was the name of this hut, the main attraction of the river ice path this year but unfortunately all that is left is the frame since it was made of ice blocks and the weather has been so warm most have melted. 


A photo of the hut appeared in a Macleans magazine article.  It was designed by the Gehry Design firm from Los Angeles and was made to look like an abstract igloo. Gehry Design was founded by Frank Gehry the famous architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum. 

This hut looked like it was covered in aluminum foil. 

Twelve students from Kelvin High School’s design drafting course created this hut. 

It was a balmy winter morning today just right for a river skate adventure. A little sunshine would have made it even nicer. I really enjoyed my skate although I think new blades may be in order before I try the route again.

Check out this very entertaining video excerpt from Rick Mercer’s show about skating at The Forks. 

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Canada, Nature, Sports, Winnipeg

One response to “Skating the Red River

  1. competition participent

    Hi, I am an architect oarticipating for this year Warming Huts competition. Would you allow me to use your pictures to make a photomontage of my installation?


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