Investigating Whether Trout Lake Will Freeze Over This Weekend

I went to grad school in Ottawa and, as someone from Vancouver in our nation’s capital, I got a healthy dose of “Why in the world would you leave there to come here??” remarks.

Fair enough—I ended up coming right back after the necessary two years. And, aside from the friends I made there, there’s not a ton that I miss about it. Well, except for the two or three heavenly months I’d spend skating on the many frozen ponds and lakes Ottawa has to offer.

While the Rideau Canal is a bit of a letdown—you can usually only skate on it for 20 days max—there are no shortage of places to get in a quick skate and some stickhandling, and my browser spent a lot of time on the city’s website looking for them.

Unfortunately, Vancouver is very much a different story. A non-regulated outdoor skating experience here is pretty much non-existent—and even the regulated ones aren’t happening this year due to that pesky pandemic.

So while many are lamenting the current cold weather, I’m not-so-secretly wishing it gets even colder and that Trout Lake (can you tell that I recently moved to Commercial Street?) freezes over like it did in 2017.

Of course, that was the first time that the lake froze the 12 inches required for skating to be allowed in over 20 years.

Things got pretty cold in 2019. The lake froze, but it wasn’t enough for skating and people were advised to stay off.

Which brings us to 2021. It’s been pretty cold this week, with sub-zero temperatures becoming regular, and it promises to get even colder—it’s slated to hit minus-7 by tomorrow morning before moving to rain next week. This is our chance, people! If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen now!

Yesterday, a non-scientific study (me walking over and throwing small rocks at the lake while watching ducks walk on the ice surface, lucky ducks) concluded that parts of the lake had frozen somewhat, but that the ice was very thin.

A Reddit poll on the matter with just over 100 votes is looking decidedly pessimistic, so we decided to go to history, to see how cold it got in 2017 and 2019, and how that compares to now.

As you can see, the cold was fairly sustained in 2017: it didn’t go above 2 degrees for a week, and got to lows of minus-8.

It got to that same low in 2019, but the previous days weren’t that cold—it was routinely in the 5-degree range.

We unfortunately may be looking at a similar situation this year as we saw in 2019. The last couple days have seen some steadily cold temperatures, but they’re probably not enough to offset the relatively warm weather we saw earlier in the week. (How about that weather analysis though?? Eat your heart out, Mark Madryga.)

In short—we’re going to need a heroic effort from Mother Nature and Old Man Winter (and some cooperation from the City of Vancouver). I’m really hoping they can join forces for this one.

An email and a phone call to Vancouver Parks Board commissioner Camil Dumont weren’t immediately returned, but rest assured if we get any good news we will let you know.