Skates: the embodiment of what it means to be Canadian

Skates are an iconic Canadian symbol.

Although I don’t have statistics to prove my argument, I am certain that if you are a Canadian, you probably have had skates on your feet at some point in your life.

Male unicorn on painted skates by Ottawa artist, Louise Primeau
Male unicorn on painted purple skates. Embellished with sparkle dust and Swarovski crystals in eyes and nostrils.

 

Skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa Canada.
Me on the left with my son, long ago. Our friends joined us (as they have often done since then) for a skating session on the Rideau Canal skateway in Ottawa, Canada.

 

Boys and girls have skates on their feet almost from the time they can walk. All bundled up, they head to the local rink to play hockey even on the coldest winter nights. Sometimes, hockey players and figure skaters share the ice. Speed skaters practice their technique in the crisp air. Rinks are very busy places in Canada.

Skating on the Rideau Canal
So much fun over the years on the canal. The largest rink in the world, the Rideau Canal is the equivalent of 140 National Hockey League rinks. (CTV News)

Every now and then, when the streets are sufficiently slick after a bout of freezing rain, someone will lace up a pair of skates, and an impromptu hockey game will be the main attraction on a suburb side street.

Very tired after skating on Rideau Canal
After all that exercise in the fresh air, this little one falls asleep in the warmth of the car.

 

So, it is no wonder that we all have skates or have had them at one time, in our home.

What do skates represent?

Canadians are resilient. We celebrate the cold and make the best of those long winter months. We learn to accept and adapt: after all, we are at the mercy of the vagaries of our weather. Some days are meant for skating while others are more suitable for rubber rain boots.

 

pair of painted skates by Ottawa artist, Louise Primeau

Purple skates with unicorns

The purple skates in this post were commissioned by a mother for her daughter who wants to display her first pair of skates in her purple bedroom. She asked for a unicorn theme.

I painted two unicorns, each a little different, and added lots of sparkle paint to the manes, and Swarovski crystals for the eyes and the nostrils of each unicorn. Then I sprayed silver on the blades, and added more glitter on top of the spray. When it comes to skates, more glitter is better! The ribbon also has sparkles and it left a mess everywhere!

Female unicorn on painted skates by Ottawa artist, Louise Primeau
Female unicorn (displayed on Inukshuk) on painted purple skates. Embellished with sparkle dust and Swarovski crystals in eyes and nostrils.

 

I photographed the skates before the snow disappeared under a crust of ice.  We had freezing rain off and on as 2018 came to an end.

Skates with meaning
Painted skates with winter theme by Ottawa artist, Louise Primeau
These skates were displayed outdoors and had to be repainted this year.(live and learn!) They decorate the front hall entrance in my home.

Do you have a special pair of skates that could be made meaningful with a unique theme? I painted my mother’s skates in 2017 and gave them to my sister who proudly displays them each year in her home.  Mom loved anything red so I painted our favourite bird, a cardinal, one male, one female on each skate.

If you live in the Ottawa area, (or in my hometown in northern Ontario) and would like me to paint your skates, contact me by personal email.

Winter Wonderland Workshop

Or, if you want to paint your own skates, here is a half day workshop that you might like:  Winter Wonderland Workshop. Bring your own skates and leave everything else to me.

 

A participant in one of my November workshops sent me a photo of her painted skates. They are displayed on the hearth in her home for Christmas, They can be left as a winter decoration by removing the poinsettia and adding greenery instead. She did a great job, don’t you think? The snowmen patterns were designed by me for this workshop. They are one of several easy patterns that can be painted on skates in an afternoon.

 

skates painted by participant in Louise's ARTiculations workshop
Winter Wonderland theme painted by a participant in one November workshop at Louise's ARTiculations.

 

What are your favourite winter memories?  Maybe you live in a land without snow...tell us how you celebrate winter!  Leave a comment in the "Leave a Reply" box below in January and your name will be entered to win a print.  Comments are reviewed by Louise before being published. I am away on holidays until January13 and will publish your comments when I return to Canada.

first pair of skates
I have kept my son's first pair of skates, size 8. So small...Made in Canada and still in perfect condition.
Three pairs
Our skates today next to our son's little skates.

 

3 Responses

  • The purple skates turned out beautifully. I’m sure there is one happy daughter in her purple themed room! I’m sad that I never mastered ice skating after reading this post.

  • My favorite memory of winter time is the winter when I was 14 years old the lake had frozen with no snow on it between Christmas and New Year we were able to skate all around the lake which was crystal clear no bump. It was magical. Never happened again since then but what a wonderful memory. Uncles, aunts, cousins,my sister, mom and dad all skating together on a beautiful and serein lake with stars above at night.

    • Oh thank you for sharing this! You reminded me of a similar memory from the time I was the same age and we skated on the lake. I had forgotten about that. Truly, very magical. I think some people were ice fishing further along the lake while we skated. I have an oil painting called “Crack the Whip” that reminds me of those days long ago, skating with my friends, on a frozen lake.

      Thanks again, Therese! (3 entries already for you!)

I’d love to hear what you have to say...