Big Lake & Pigeon Lake, Alberta

Big Lake (top photo) is the best location for early-season ice in the Edmonton area. It's always frozen by late November, and occasionally by late October. Big Lake is 3 kilometers long, with an adjacent channel that's reminiscent of the Dutch canals.
Directions: Go west on Highway 16 and turn north on 231st Street, which dead-ends at a parking area 50 meters from the lakeshore.
Pigeon Lake (bottom photos) is a one-hour drive south of Edmonton. 15 km long and 7.5 km across, it's even bigger than Big Lake. Willem Langenberg writes:
"We went on Remembrance Day, a national holiday in Canada. We parked on the main boulevard of Mulhurst Bay, near the ice cream parlour. Unfortunately, it was closed for the season! We skated past the Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, a newly constructed harbour, and some outcrops of bedrock sandstone. While we stayed around Mulhurst Bay, our friends explored the south end of the lake around Ma-Me-O Beach. There were at least ten skaters on the lake!
"We felt lucky to have perfect conditions, but we wondered why the lake was so empty of skaters. There must be a business opportunity for skating on lakes with such beautiful ice. Evert van Benthemís initiative on Sylvan Lake is capitalizing on that opportunity and bringing business to a resort that is usually dormant in the winter."
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