M993.115.42.1-2 | Ice skates

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Ice skates
1900-1910, 20th century
Wood, metal
6.6 x 32.2 cm
Gift of the Air Canada Corporation
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Skates (3)
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Keys to History

Ice-skating was introduced to Canada about 1840 by officers of the British army, and this sports activity, which was perfectly adapted to the Nordic climate of Montreal quickly became popular. In fact, this sport is one of the first to be considered appropriate for women.

At first Montrealers skated on the river, on lakes and even on frozen fields, but outdoor municipal skating rinks became available to them beginning in 1850. The first indoor skating rink in the metropolis, the Victoria Skating Rink, would be built nine years later and quickly became the favourite recreational centre for the English-speaking elite of Montreal.

Because of rapid urbanization at the beginning of the 20th century, private skating rinks could no longer meet the demand. The City of Montreal would authorize the construction of outdoor rinks in public squares and park starting in 1900.

  • What

    The spatula-shaped front of these skates was a practical innovation intended to improve stability.

  • Where

    Montreal became the capital of speed skating in the 1890s, after the establishment there of the headquarters of the Canadian Amateur Skating Association.

  • When

    Ice-skating, which has probably existed for more than 2000 years, likely originated in Scandinavia. It was a convenient means of getting around.

  • Who

    These skates were manufactured by a blacksmith in the Montreal region.