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Frozen lakes become pandemic paradise for outdoors lovers

In addition to 17 skating rinks, an avid curler has created a curling rink on Bass Lake; 'There are lots of rinks for the younger people, but as old folks, we need something else'

Bass Lake has become a hot spot this winter for local skaters, shinny hockey players, and even curlers.  

Bass Lake resident Eleanor Bloom says she has seen hundreds of people on the ice and has counted up to 17 rinks so far this winter, which is up from the half dozen rinks she counts along the stretch of beach in a normal year.

“The arenas are closed, so that probably has a lot to do with it, and the fact that everybody is stuck inside with nothing to do,” Bloom explained, referencing the provincial lockdown in place due to the pandemoc.

“I think the ice is pretty good this year; there are people who are skating even further past the rinks. It’s good to see so many people.”

Bloom says seeing young families out on the ice reminds her of a time when people were more active before the age of modern technology and the global pandemic.

“It reminds me of when my kids were a young age and my husband would clear off a spot on the lake. Our kids used to have a lot of fun out there with their friends,” she said.

While some local residents might have concern with there being hundreds of people on the lake at a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bloom believes that people should have the opportunity to enjoy the lake this winter.

“I love seeing people out having a good time. It’s good clean fun, they aren’t hurting anything, they aren’t overcrowded out there. And if they are in groups, you can assume they are family with maybe some other friends,” she said.

Wayne Hickling, an avid curler and Bass Lake resident, created his own little curling rink on the lake that plays in the style of shuffleboard.

“I decided to paint some pucks and put a circle down at the end and we shuffle the pucks down to see who can get it onto the circle,” Hickling explained.

“I clean off the ice and pebble it just like you do for curling, which lets the pucks slide a little better.”

After the Orillia Curing Club cancelled their season back in the fall, Hickling came up with the idea as a way to stay active this winter.

“It’s something to do. There are lots of rinks for the younger people, but as old folks, we need something else,” Hickling said.

It’s also given Hickling an opportunity to expand his social circle as he and his family have been playing with other local families who share the rink.

“We start playing with anybody who comes along. People will ask about it and then they get curious and want to try it,” Hickling said.

Hickling says the activity is mostly safe as long as everybody keeps their social distance.

“I’m 83 years old, so we make sure to not stand close to one another. We definitely take precautions seriously,” he said.

Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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