Length of seasons compared
1971-72 Season 90 days 1972-73 Season 78 days 1973-74 Season 65 days 1974-75 Season 62 days 1975-76 Season 67 days 1976-77 Season 71 days 1977-78 Season 77 days 1978-79 Season 64 days 1979-80 Season 62 days 1980-81 Season 61 days Last Season 59 days This Season 28 days - 18 days of skatingMeteorologists calculate “normal” temperatures based on 30 years of data because the weather varies so much from one year to the next. The Rideau Canal Skateway has only been in operation for 46 years so comparing the first 30 years with the most recent 30 involves some overlap, but the average season length from start to finish during the first 30 years of operation was 4½ days longer than the average for the most recent 30 years. That’s an average of 60 days back then compared to 55½ for the average from 1986-87 to now.
In fact “season one” in January and February of 1971 was a bit of a pilot project lasting only 39 days and if we ignore it, the first 30 years of skating seasons averaged 61 days. That’s 5½ days longer than what’s “normal” now.
This shortening of the skating season comes despite heroic efforts and ever-improving techniques by the NCC to keep the skating season going. Some cynics suggest the NCC wants to save money by closing the canal as soon as possible after Winterlude but an examination of the annual stats doesn't bear this out. If climate change alone were shortening skating seasons one might expect them to shorten from both the opening and closing dates. If NCC penny-pinching were shortening seasons we'd expect to see them shortening from the closing date only. In fact the stats show more shortening occurring at the opening day end than at the end of season.