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Ice Boating

Ice boating is a winter activity in which a participant rides a boat attached to ice skates over frozen water. The boat is fitted with a tall sail to control speed and direction, and balances on three skate blades (called "runners"), which are structured in a triangular shape to allow for stability during sharp turns. Iceboats are aerodynamic and streamlined, allowing the boat to reach top speeds of up to 48 knots, while racing iceboats can reach speeds of up to 90 knots. Recreationally, many participants create their own iceboats using materials such as plywood, epoxy, foam, or carbon fiber.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Ice yachting

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Ice boating originated in the early 19th century as a method of transportation and a means of moving goods in the winter. Towards the end of the century, ice boating became a popular global recreational activity. Ice boating arrived in Toronto in the early 1900s. As thick ice covered Lake Ontario during the winter months, sailing enthusiasts adapted their boats for the ice. Races were organized by the Toronto Rowing Club and Toronto Iceboating Association. However, as the years went on, changes throughout the city such as expansion of Toronto Harbor and implementation of ice breaker boats made it increasingly difficult to participate in ice boating. Today, participation in ice boating in Toronto is minimal compared to participation in the early to mid 1900s.

Who takes part?

Males and female of diverse ages and ethnocultural backgrounds.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Ice boating occurs occasionally in the GTA during the winter months, when the temperature has been low enough to allow ice to form to a safe thickness.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

Canadian Ice Boating Champtionships; The Kingston Ice breakers

Cultural Significance


Is there anything else we should know?



  • Hamilton Waterfront
    47 Discovery Drive
    Hamilton, ON L8L 8K4
  • Toronto Harbourfront
    415 Queens Quay W
    Toronto, ON M5V 1A2

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