Ice machine key to Corkery ice dream

CORKERY – When you own your own Zamboni, the sky’s the limit when building your backyard winter wonderland.

Corkery’s Jarrett Gibbons is a man who loves outdoor skating. Grew up on shinny ponds and now has his own shinny pond. And a fully boarded rink beside the pond. And a skating trail through his backyard forest. It’s a site to behold.

“I got the ice resurfacer at an auction in Cornwall,” Jarrett told West Carleton Online from his backyard winter wonderland last week (Feb. 11). “I wasn’t looking. I put in a bid for $2,000. It’s propane powered. Runs like a top and that’s what started this whole process.”

When his Corkery area home was being built, he even had an architecture design the garage and garage door in the back to park the behemoth.

That’s how Ottawa’s best outdoor rink was made. The Ottawa 67’s Junior A Hockey Club recently had a competition for Ottawa’s best outdoor rink. No surprise, the man with the outdoor ice resurfacer won.

“I always had a pond,” Gibbons said. “Skated on ponds my whole life.”

Gibbons grew up in Stittsville and moved out to Carp about 15 years ago. He moved to his current location just off March Road in Corkery about a year-and-a-half ago with his wife Anita, son Hudson and daughters Brooklyn and Sydney.

Another auction gem, Gibbons' picked up these boards and soon built a second skating surface at his home. Photo by Jake Davies
Another auction gem, Gibbons’ picked up these boards and soon built a second skating surface at his home. Photo by Jake Davies

Gibbons grew up playing hockey and did so at some of the top levels including the Central Junior Hockey League, NCAA and the east coast semi-pro league. Gibbons says his dad I responsible for his obsession with outdoor ice.

“I blame my dad for a lot of this,” he said. “At 12 or 13 my dad bought a 40 by 80-foot bubble dome. At an auction. For $2,000. Dad was the only bidder. We put it up and played hockey in it. Thirty years later, my buddies are still talking about it.”

Gibbons drifted away from hockey and focused on his business Jara Sweeping. But when the children started playing hockey and getting in to sports, he became a fan again.

“As soon as my kids got in to it, something clicked and I’m right back in to it,” he said.

Last year was the first his first year with the ice resurfacer. It took some nerves to drive it out on the pond that first time.

“I measured the thickness,” Gibbons said. “I spoke to some of my ice fishing buddies. I wore a lifejacket the first time.”

It turned out the pond wasn’t enough. This year he added another rink. With a full set of hockey boards including the plexiglass. While that pad isn’t full size, the boards are, and they even have some ads on them. He found the boards, you guessed it, at an auction.

“Got in a bit of trouble from the wife for that one,” he said.

There are 25 loads of gravel underneath to set the base (“those boards aren’t moving”). But he didn’t stop there.

“When you own an ice resurfacer, your mind starts ticking,” Gibbons said. “And that’s where the trail came in.”

The pond that started it all at Gibbons' home. You can see the start of the skating trail at the back of the shinny pond. Photo by Jake Davies
The pond that started it all at Gibbons’ home. You can see the start of the skating trail at the back of the shinny pond. Photo by Jake Davies

Gibbons’ home sits on six acres and now he has an ice resurfacer-wide skating trail meandering through the back woods.

“It takes two or three minutes to skate,” Gibbons said. “I haven’t measured it.”

Gibbons says he spends about two to three hours a day working on the rink – averaged out over the season. You bet all that ice is well used.

“We’re out until 10 at night,” Gibbons said. “The kids love it. At night you can hear the coyotes.”

He has his kids’ teams out regularly, hosted a big Family Day party and has hosted school kid chums during recent strike days.

“This is why you do it,” Gibbons said. “People love it.”

Don’t tell the wife, but Gibbons still has a few more ODR-related dreams.

“My big dream is to put a roof on it,” he said.