From The Gazette

St. Lazare

St-Lazare resident builds impressive backyard rink

  • Justin Lachapelle stands on the backyard rink he made at his home in St-Lazare on Saturday January 4, 2014.
    Justin Lachapelle stands on the backyard rink he made at his home in St-Lazare on Saturday January 4, 2014.
    Photo credit: Robert Amyot / THE GAZETTE

It’s not quite the Bell Centre, but St-Lazare resident Justin Lachapelle’s backyard hockey rink is definitely not your average patinoire.

“It’s eight years of insanity,” Lachapelle said of his immaculately groomed, 64-by-32-foot backyard rink, which has proper line markings, re-used boards from the Macdonald Arena in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and two Habs crests buried at centre ice.

For evening games, Lachapelle lights up six 500-watt bulbs, which were set up on a separate system from his home after he kept blowing fuses.

He has also added a rink-side dressing room, complete with a TV where spectators and players taking a break can watch hockey.

“I’m a bit of a hockey nut,” he said.

The rink is popular with local kids, who often come over to play hockey. Lachapelle and his sons — Russell, 12, and Shayne, 10 — play on the rink a few times a week, he said.

“I play about four times a week right now. My youngest kid wasn’t really into hockey, but he started this year and he’s out there a lot now, which is kind of cool,” he said.

Lachapelle starts working on the rink as the temperature begins to drop, usually in November, waiting until the temperature is low enough to maintain a base layer of ice.

“You have to be pretty nuts. You have to look at the three-day weather forecast and get out there. If it’s 3 in the morning, you’ve got to get out there at 3 in the morning and water accordingly,” he said.

He shared his surfacing technique — which involves dumping a series of large garbage bins full of water onto the rink — in a Youtube video entitled “How to water your rink in 30 seconds.”

If the temperature is cold enough, Lachapelle explained, the water freezes quickly after spreading across the rink, leaving a smooth surface with no dips or wrinkles in which to catch a skate.

Last winter, Lachapelle turned a friend’s golf cart into a Zamboni. The turning radius was a bit wide, but the makeshift machine did “an okay job” clearing the ice, he said.

He estimated that he spends about 10 hours fixing up the rink for every hour of playing time, but said the commitment is worth it.

“When they play and they’re all having fun there, it’s priceless,” Lachapelle said.


  1. I live to the back of Lachappelle’s skating rink yard. Just to let you know, that the majority of time the rink is not being
    used for SKATING as much as it is being used to ram the hockey pucks against the boards. We here the reverberating
    sound continuosly throughout the late evening sometimes until 11 at night. It is one thing to skate but to have the
    ubnoxiuos sound of the puck hitting the boards is truly unbearable. There are 4 houses surrounding his back yard and
    some of us have to get up at 5 in the morning to be at work at 7, seems very unfair to make unnecessary noise and bright lights on until late in the evening. Also, I don’t know how he got permission to cut down his pine trees on his lot for his rink, I think he did it one weekend and all the tree were gone. we have a public skating rink a few blocks away where he can go and play hockey there.any time and not disturb his patient neighbors. Great for his kids when he has them, but I think he made the rink more for him and his friends.
    I prefer a peaceful, quiet setting.
    A few of your disgruntled neighbors.

  2. Hmmm sounds like the same neighbor who screams at the neighborhood kids playing in pools in the middle of the day!!!
    pure sour grapes!!!

  3. I agree with the above comment in one regard… You would have to be very disgruntled to turn this heartwarming story into a negative. With all the curent disturbing headlines, it is very touching and inspirational to read about a young men’s love for a sport that brings joy to so many Canadians, and the lengths that he would go to, to pass it along to his children.
    For me, I think that Justin’s vision, commitment and dertermination is what Hudson and St-Lazare are all about. I applaude his hard work and thank him for sharing his story with us all.

  4. Brenda,
    My 10 year old son was visiting Justin’s (who is extremely generous with the young kids in the neighbourhood) a few years back, skating on his back yard rink when you went to the edge of your fence and started to yell at him. The behaviour you displayed that day REALLY puts your character In question. Really? Who yells at a 10 year old who is playing hockey DURING THE DAY? I will take the high road here and assume you are probably a nice person, probably loved by your family and close friends. Given this assumption, I then conclude that there must be a lot of stress, sadness, pain, etc. going on in your life. So, instead of being mad at someone who displays behaviour like you do, I forgive you for yelling at an innocent young boy, I feel sorry for you and I truly hope things go better in your life.

  5. If you want to speak for yourself Miss Brenda, fine, do so but please do not speak on your Neighbors behalf if they did not give you the authority to do so. The last time I have check, I did not give you the right or permission to speak on my behalf.

    So you’re saying, go ahead and bother the other people who lives close to that public rink but not in my backyard? Ok I see you point…like me , myself and I. As for the bright light, you should have blinds in your Windows to prevent it. As for the tree in his backyard, city hall is the place to go an complain about it. As for 11′ o’clock at night usualy this is a by law that cities have in place. Again go at the city hall or complain to the police if you prefer.

    Enough said on comments like yours who don’t even bother to see the man in person and would rather complain over the internet.

    For Justin Lachapelle, great job on your rink, it is a lot better to see people getting outside for outdoor activity than working 7 days a week, playing video games or waisting their time complaining over the internet about their Neighbors. But I guess this is what happen when you have no life.


  6. By Heidi Niderost

    So happy to see Justin’s hard work being recognized!! Our two boys and so many of their friends have had so many good times on Justin’s rinks over the years and it is creating so many awesome chilhood memories for them. Both boys are always so anxious with each new season for the day Justin opens his rink to them. It has been such a positive influence on the kids. They are happy to assist in its set-up when needed, and to shovel when needed. It inspires them to work hard and improve their abilities, all the while having a blast. It also has taught them to appreciate the work involved in creating this beautiful setting. Thank you Justin from all the neighbourhood kids and parents who so appreciate sharing in these great moments. It warms the heart on these frosty days… Heidi

  7. By Steve Allard

    Justin’s rink is the best ice around.
    Where would I rather have my kids playing at Justin’s or Bedard parc pretty easy decision to make.
    Thank you Justin for making great Canadian memories.

  8. By Saint Lazare resident

    Wow can’t believe the neighbours comment. Hope you realise Brenda that your comment does not make you look like a friendly neighbour or a person who is meant to live in a society. I think their is a lot worse things that neighbourhood kids could be doing. Like vandalizing, stealing, doing drugs and just being loud at all times. What has made you so miserable to not see this gesture as an incredible dedication to his family and neighbours. You refer to the public rink which I went to yesterday and is horribly maintained. I wish I had the time or dedication to build my own rink my kids would be absolutely extactic, it would be a dream come true for them. Would be a shame if I did all that and then I had a horrible neighbour complain and scream at the kids in the day or night. One thing is for sure as a teen I would probably retaliate by making more noise. So sad that you don’t want to be part of your community and that you shun those that are trying to build one with our all time Canadian winter sport.

  9. By Justin's girlfriend (Cristina)

    Justin’s rink is one of winter’s highlights. Our children look forward to our frigid winters because they get to skate their hearts out.
    Typical day at the rink: The children skate, if they’re cold they come in the ‘loge’ to warm up, they go out to skate again, come back in to have a snack, and then they usually end off with a good ole’ game of hockey (boys and girls). This is the perfect day for us parents and our children. You see, it’s no secret that our children can outdo us outdoors. Therefore, there’s nothing better than being able to tie skates indoors, play with our children outdoors, watch our children play outdoors…while tackling on the parental duties of preparing meals for our munchkins who are enjoying their typical day at Justin’s rink.

    Justin’s girlfriend

  10. Here’s Lachapelle,,,,,
    To center, a penalty coming up,,,,, ” TO BRENDA ”
    OH MY GOSH,,,,,
    WHAT A GOAL,,,,,
    WHAT A MOVE,,,,,

  11. Pingback: Knockout Radio – Talking Sports with Randy Harris – Incredible backyard rink has ice-level bar, golf cart Zamboni (Photos)

  12. Pingback: Incredible backyard rink has ice-level bar, golf cart Zamboni (Photos) | NHLRealTalk

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