Family Day Fun Underneath a Toronto Highway

by Jeff Viray

For many, the Gardner Expressway is a great way to travel around Toronto, but just hiding underneath it and right beside Fort York is a scenic outdoor skating rink, “The Bentway.”

“The Bentway ” was the setting for many families on the afternoon of this past Family Day.

“We just wanted to try skating,” Ryan Lee tells me,  “We’re new to Canada and we’ve wanted to try skating for a long time.”

Ryan, an international student at Toronto Metropolitan University, used this Family Day, as a way to spend time with his loved ones and to learn about one of Canada’s favourite past times.

Ryan and his girlfriend Sue trying out skating for the first time.

“Where I am from, skating was never very interesting to me, but now that I’m here, I feel like I have to,” Ryan told me that he also brought his girlfriend Sue with him today.

“It’s a day to celebrate family, and right now she is the only family I feel like I have here, her and my friends.”

Family Day is one of Ontario’s newest holidays, first celebrated in 2008, it was established by former Ontrio Premier Dalton McGuinty, promising a new holiday in February if re-elected. Family Day is a day to celebrate with family and loved ones and to add a holiday between the three-month gap of New Year’s to Easter Weekend.

I also asked Ryan if this is something he plans on doing more often, “No, no not every day but for me maybe once or twice a year, like a tradition for Family Day.”

Though there were many people out skating for Family Day, the warm weather made the ice look like sludge in some parts. When trying to rent a pair of skates for myself, I overheard one of the workers tell a renter they wouldn’t recommend skating in these conditions.

The condition of the ice is not ideal for skating.

I asked the person working the renting desk if it’s been a slow winter when it came to skating, and they told me, “yeah I mean its been one of the warmer winters we’ve seen lately, so the conditions haven’t been the best as of late.”

But these melted ice conditions didn’t stop one, Mason, age 10 from trying his best on learning how to skate.”It’s a day off school, and I think I wanted to try it and see what it’s like,” Mason told me.

Mason’s parents told me he’s always been keen on learning how to skate but Family

Mason giving skating a go for the first time.

Day was the first time they were able to go out together and try it as a family.

“I don’t know, he seems to enjoy it, so maybe we’ll make it into a tradition.” Mason’s dad said.

The skating wasn’t the only thing at the Bentway that afternoon, numerous stands and food trucks provided skaters with anything from cupcakes to sausages and even thrift wear.

The Bentway saw many families and friends on the Monday holiday but unfortunately for skaters looking to skate at this scenic location, you just have to wait till the end of 2023 for a chance to get on the Bentway, since the final skate day was this past Wednesday, the 22nd of February.









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