The canal is closed; the skating continues.

So that's it -- it's official. The Rideau Canal Skateway is closed for the 2016 season.  (I won't dignify it by calling it the 2015-16 season -- not when folks were jogging by the canal in their t-shirts on Christmas Eve.)

At just 18 days, the 2016 was the shortest skating season on record. The entire length of the canal was open, it seems, for only a few days, including the last weekend during Winterlude. Still, it was a beautiful skate!

On that stretch between Bank and Bronson, the ice never was very good -- there just wasn't enough consecutive cold days to lay down that layer of ice that has made the canal such a pleasure to skate in past years.

We're all disappointed, of course, especially when the temperature has dropped again to minus-20 with the wind chill. But there's still great opportunities to skate in Ottawa for those who bring along their skates.

The Lansdowne Park Skating Court and the Sens Rink of Dreams at City Hall have refrigeration coils below the ice surface and will be going for some time yet. The Old Ottawa South Community Association has issued it flooding schedules to the volunteers who hope to maintain Windsor rink well into March.

And one of the overlooked jewels of skating in Ottawa is the speed skating oval at Brewer Park maintained by Ottawa Pacers Speed Skating Club. 

The volunteers at the Pacers do a fine job of maintaining the ice. On any given day you'll find speed skate enthusiasts training -- some weekends you'll also watch them race.

But on an early morning in late February, after a gentle snowfall, you sometimes have the entire oval to yourself, and this is what your tracks in the snow look like after one lap.

Here's what is looks like after 10 laps.

And there will be many more laps to come before the sun gets so strong that the Pacers will give up maintaining the oval for the season.

Get out there and enjoy!