Skateboarding in the capital: Ottawa skate parks
It all started in California and Hawaii in the 1940s and it wasn’t long before it spread around the globe.
Skateboarding is an individualistic form of expression practiced by people of all ages and identities. It is believed that it traces back to a desire by surfers to enjoy their sport on low-wave days, which led to it to be referred to in the early days as “asphalt surfing.”
Skateboards have advanced notably since the beginning but continue to consist of a maple plywood deck coated in polyurethane, topped with grip tape, attached to two steel trucks with one wheel on each side. Skateboarding boomed in popularity in the 1950s as the toy-industry skyrocketed. What started out as a toy soon grew into a sturdy piece of sports equipment, allowing for more tricks.
The late 60s saw shoe companies targeting skateboarders with footwear to help them skate more comfortably and practically. Next, skate competitions became events that many looked forward to and helped to establish skateboarding as a sport. Since then, skateboarding has only advanced becoming a source of joy for all kinds of people, with its own unique culture.
Skateboarding is treasured because of its accessibility. Many other sports can be quite expensive—costs for uniforms, lessons, equipment—whereas skateboarders only need a skateboard. After that there are possible replacement of shoes, durable pants, and new parts for aging skateboards.
Skateboarding is a source of pure joy. Not only does skateboarding increase daily physical activity but it also increase confidence, coordination, sleep health, stress relief, positivity, pain tolerance, and injury prevention. More than just a fun hobby, skateboarding is a lifestyle.
While skateboarding has had a history of being a male-dominated sport, people who join the skateboarding community will notice how inclusive it is. No matter one’s socio-economic status, race, physical build, sexual orientation, or gender, the art of skateboarding holds a place for them. Skate fashion and expression is personalized and celebrated collectively by other skaters. Even while skate parks hold a stigma of being scary and unwelcoming environments, long-time skaters are anything but welcoming and excited to teach and cheer on both beginners and advanced skaters.
For anyone who loves skateboarding or hopes to take up the sport, Ottawa is filled with great parks to learn tricks, make friends, and have a good time. Here are some of Ottawa’s best:
In the heart of Ottawa’s Glebe Neighbourhood (by TD place at Lansdowne) sits one of Ottawa’s newer skate parks. The park consists of a series of ramps ideally suited for beginners, a bank joint by a hip—to add dimension to standard tricks, a manual pad, and two quarter pipes. The nearby basketball court also serves as a fine spot for flat-ground practice (when not occupied by basketball players of course).
Photo: Chloë Hayes
Charlie Bowins Sate Park
Charlie Bowins skate park in McNabb Park (180 Percy Street) is one of Ottawa’s favourite parks. The park is very spacious and filled with many different obstacles: quarter pipes, half pipes, banks, a mini ramp, a full ramp, gap, rail, and manual pad. The park is set up so that all skill levels will find it exciting. Charlie is also specifically known for its strong community with regular visitors.
Girls+ Skate 613 is a remarkable group dedicated to allowing people of all ages, identities, and skill levels to find a home in skateboarding. The group started out with girls only sessions at Charlie Bowins Skate park in McNabb’s recreational park, and has expanded over the years. This organization has gone on to host multiple events such as a skate for Black Lives event, LGBT+ pride gatherings, and a weekly evening skate—every Thursday at 6 pm!
Photo: Chloë Hayes
Legacy skate park
The largest skate park in the city, Legacy Skate park is located between the Baseline Transitway station (across from Algonquin College) and Ben Franklin Place. Decorated with vibrant spray-paint, Legacy is a very upbeat and enjoyable place to skate and film some quality skate clips! The park includes an open-ended bowl, rails, banks, quarter pipes, stairs, manual pads, and ledges.
PHOTO: Josh Mathis via Facebook
Conroy skate park
A smaller spot on the side of Conroy road, Conroy skate park is a very mildly trafficked spot for a chill skating session. This one is perfect for those days where you just need to blow off some steam with relaxing exercise. Assets include quarter pipes, grind rail, and two larger ramps.
PHOTO: Chloë Hayes
Greely Village Park
For beginners to intermediate level skater, Greely Village Park is is located near Water’s Edge Way in Greely. It is a very long park, perfect for some impressive lines. This spot is composed of flat-ground space, stairs, gaps, manual pads, a grind rail, and a bank.
While enjoying each skate park, keep in mind that others are there to enjoy it too, and be sure to respect their space and the natural flow of the park, in order to prevent injury and interruption.
If you like what you see, make sure to check out Canada’s national skate team at the Tokyo Olympic Games — a debut for the sport!