A joy-ride on Lake Ida: Picturing Canterbury

A joy-ride on Lake Ida by Isabel Tweedy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. PH18-IsTw-15.

A vintage car taking a sled of children for a joy-ride across the frozen Lake Ida. Groups of people are ice skating in the background. 28 July 1957.

For early settlers who lived on the remote back country stations in the foothills of the Canterbury mountains in the nineteenth century, the winter months could be bleak and gloomy. One of the means of passing the time for those residing in the high country was ice skating. Newcomers to the region were told of lakes set further inland, which froze so hard during winter that a team of bullocks could be lead across the surface. Lake Ida, near Lake Coleridge, was one such popular destination for the sport.

In the 1860s, the owner of the Lake Coleridge run, Charles Harper, used to organise week long skating parties in which people from surrounding stations would be invited to participate. Each day the group would meet at his station and ride out to the Lake Ida, where they would enjoy a day of skating. In her account, Station Life in New Zealand, Mary Anne Barker, describes the setting of one such outing:

“On either hand rose up, shear from the water’s edge, a great, barren, shingly mountain; before us loomed a dark pine forest, whose black shadows crept up until they merged in the deep crevasses and fissures of the Snowy Range.”

In the 1930s, members of winter sports clubs started to construct purpose made ice skating rinks, with the first being the Canterbury Winter Sports Club rink at Mount Cheeseman at the foot of the Craigieburn Range in 1930.

Do you have any photographs of ice skating in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

The Discovery Wall is a large interactive exhibition which allows several people to simultaneously explore images and stories of the history of the people and places of Christchurch. It is viewable on the ground floor of Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand or on the Mobile Discovery Wall. Images displayed on the Wall can also be found on the Discovery Wall website.

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