Few things are as quintessentially Canadian as pond hockey or “shinny,” a pickup game played informally on an outdoor rink. Some Canadians have taken it to the next level and organized full tournaments around this beloved pastime. After the pandemic caused cancellations last year, many of the games are set to take place in early 2022; and even where there may not be a formal tournament, a game of shinny is always up for grabs! If you’re looking to sharpen your skills before participating, check out our recommendations on the most iconic outdoor skating rinks across the country. Here are some of the best pond hockey tournaments across Canada:
Plaster Rock, N.B.
Cottage Life readers gave a resounding recommendation for this legendary pond hockey tournament in Eastern Canada, where the World Pond Hockey Championships are hosted. There’s a strong history of pond hockey in Plaster Rock, making it a bucket list item for lovers of the game.
Eagle Lake, Haliburton, Ont.
Haliburton hosts the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships each year, and in 2022 it will take place over two weekends. The first, at the end of January, is known as ‘Open Weekend’ and the second as the ‘Masters Weekend’. If you’re not part of a formal team, the tournament welcomes spectators who are willing to brave the cold.
Lake Muskoka, Ont.
Hosted by the organization On the Pond Canada, this multi-level, multi-age tournament is on for 2022, hosted in one of the most famous cottage regions.
Lake Louise, Alta.
What could be better than playing the national pastime on one of the most iconic lakes in the world? While the Lake Louise Pond Hockey Classic for 2022 hasn’t been announced yet, you can check back at the link above for further details. You can also lace up and enjoy a leisurely skate once the ice is thick enough.
Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife, N.W.T.
Taking place every Saturday in the winter for more than a decade, what’s come to be known as ‘houseboat hockey’ is an iconic tradition on Yellowknife’s Great Slave Lake. Although not a formal tournament, this weekly game of shinny has become a beloved part of the long winters up North. It takes place around a series of houseboats, where wood stoves are fired up inside so players can warm up between shifts.
Blachford Lake Lodge, N.W.T.
This remote lodge doesn’t have an organized pond hockey tournament, but skating on the lake is one of the favourite activities for guests—and you’ll likely run into an impromptu game of shinny, so bring your hockey stick.