Skating in the 19th century


Yes, I'm here, Amy. What's that? You're going ice skating? The pond near the town is frozen solid? Nice.

I'm kind of jealous, to be honest with you.


No, I'm afraid you'll still have to wear a long dress - you are living in the 19th century, after all. But I'm sure the lady of the house has a bit shorter version of a regular Victorian dress to lend you for such an activity.

Did you know that ice skating first took place as early as thousands of years ago? People in Finland made blades from animal bones and strapped them onto boots at that time, allowing themselves to glide across the surface of the ice. And as early as the 2nd century, games were invented to play on ice.

It was when steel blades with sharpened edges were created in the 13th or 14th century that skating became the standard enjoyable activity and sport it still is today.

When ice skating was brought to England from the Netherlands in the 17th century, it soon became popular in that country. The first instructional book regarding skating was published in London in 1772, and it explained basic movements such as skating around in a circle or completing a figure eight.

But it is during the time you currently live in, the 19th century, when ice skating is becoming very popular around the world. Clubs are opening in major cities such as London, New York and Toronto for the purpose of skating. Rinks are being built. As a matter of fact, Queen Victoria got to know her future husband, Prince Albert, through skating excursions she loved to go on.

On Main Street in town, the Emporium will sell you a brand new pair of skates for approximately 25 cents. It was in 1865 when Jackson Haines, a well known figure skater, developed a skate with a blade permanently fixed to the boot. He was also the first skater to add music to his skating routines.

I realize you already know how to skate, Amy, but please be careful. The surface of the pond may look flat and slick, but may have rough patches.