Tobogganing is something of a right of passage for Haligonians, and one spot is the king of all hills: Gorsebrook Field.
With wide open spaces and a variety of slopes to chose from, the area behind Gorsebrook Junior High on Robie and South Street is the place to go after a good snowfall.
“It’s one of the best hills in Halifax, it’s pretty safe and there’s no obstructions for the kids,” said Lenny Gallant after climbing back up the hill with his daughter Amelie. “You get a really good view of everything that’s going on, people are aware and keeping their eye open for other sledders.”
Amelie Gallant said she enjoys this Gorsebrook as well. They were out for one more slide down the slope on Jan. 2 before school returned.
“I like it because it’s always fun and there are a lot of hills to go on,” Gallant said, bundled up to avoid the bitter wind. “They’re really steep and you can go far, and they’re bumpy.”
“She likes the bumps more than I do,” Lenny said with a laugh.
“I like the bumps because it just makes it funner (sic) and there’s more jumps” Amelie added.
One hill that doesn’t seem to get as much use as one might think is Citadel Hill. Certainly toboggan enthusiasts use it, but its close proximity to cars can keep people away.
Amelie Gallant offered another piece of advice for those looking for a good hill.
“I’m recommending not going to Flynn Park,” she said. “Because I went there yesterday and I ran into a bench, there are too many things in the way there.”
Take note tobogganers.
Another group that was enjoying the Gorsebrook hill was the Denis family. Frank Denis gave another rave review of the sledding venue, with top marks for safety.
“It’s nice and safe, it’s got a long runway, you don’t have to put the brakes on before hitting cars or the tennis court,” said Denis. “We were out yesterday to toboggan as well, the weather has been ok, but the wind makes it a little harsh on the face. Other than that the conditions are perfect because it’s nice and icy.”
His daughter Adrienne Denis was somewhat more… enthusiastic.
“It’s awesome!” Adrienne said with vigor. “I like this hill more than that one because it’s steeper and awesomer (sic).”
When asked which sled is best, Adrienne said she enjoys the blow-up circular sleds because of the increased speed.
“I have fallen off the sled and slipped once or twice,” she said, admitting they weren’t bad spills.
Places to Toboggan in Halifax:
Behind Gorsebrook Junior High, Robie Street
Garrison Grounds, Sackville Street
Ashburn Golf Club
17th hole, Springvale Avenue
Fort Needham Memorial Park
North End. Novalea Drive
Merv Sullivan Park
A.K.A. The Pit, Novalea Drive, further down from Fort Needham
South End, MacDonald Street
HRM’s safety tips for tobogganing
Ensure children wear a helmet at all times.
Check the hill before you go down to ensure it is safe and free from trees, rocks, fences or other obstacles.
Never Toboggan on, or onto a roadway or parking lot.
Check that the toboggan or sled is in good condition and there are no sharp edges or broken parts.
Don't Toboggan at night or dusk as visibility is reduced.
Maintain control and look for a clear path before you go.
If a slope is beyond your ability or conditions become unsafe don't go down the hill.
Never toboggan near or onto a lake, river or other ice.
Toboggan on snow - avoid icy hills that can cause excessive speed.
Teach children to sit forward, not backwards, head first or lying down, to get out of the way at the bottom of the hill and to roll off the toboggan if heading for danger.
Avoid scarves, loose clothing and tie up long hair that can get caught.
Teach children to slide down the middle of the hill and climb up the sides.
Obey age limits for snow racers.
Children under 5 should not go down the hill alone - get a toboggan that is large enough for an adult to go down with the child.
Choose a sled that is sturdy and easy to control.
Have only the recommended number of passengers on a sled or toboggan at one time.
Try to maintain safe speeds that will allow you to have the control to stop if you need to.