Syncrude employee receives national recognition for backyard rink

It’s a labour of love, filled with early memories spent on a small sheet of ice in his backyard that drives Syncrude employee Kris Jackson to build his outdoor skating rink each year.

Sharing the Fort McMurray rink with his young son and the neighbourhood kids, Kris earned national recognition and top honours with Canadian Tire’s Great Canadian Hosers award on February 19.

In its third year, the award honours Canada’s top five backyard and community rink builders. In addition to bragging rights, Kris earned a golden hose trophy and a $1,000 gift certificate to Canadian Tire. Kris’s rink was nominated by the website It was started by a group of geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2012 to record the days that backyard rinks across Canada were skateable.

It was a surprise to me. I didn’t realize there was such an award and I didn’t build a rink to win one,

Kris jackson

At 20’x30’, “Luke’s Rink” as it’s known online, comes complete with sideboards displaying the logos of National Hockey League teams, red and blues lines illuminated by LED lights and most recently, the Canadian Tire logo and company’s campaign slogan We All Play For Canada added to the ice.

His son Luke, who’s out nearly every day practicing his skating and slap shot, enjoys the convenience of having a rink steps from his house. “It’s fun to have it in the backyard so you don’t have to go driving to any other place where there’s a rink,” he says.

It took about 13 hours to flood the rink in mid-November and since then maintaining it has been relatively easy. Kris says he simply shovels off the snow and puts on a light layer of hot water to keep the ice smooth. It takes time and care, but the end results are worth it.

“This one kind of got carried away, I didn’t mean for it to be this elaborate,” says Kris, Radiation Safety Officer at Syncrude. “But it’s really about the kids being active and community spirit. We have the neighbours and their kids over to play hockey and skate; family and friends come by for skating parties. It’s about creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

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