The English considered skating to be mostly a male pursuit which may be why there are no women skating in this painting. However, ladies increasingly took part in the sport as the 19thCentury wore on. British officers stationed in North America introduced settlers to skating , which may explain why Howard chose to include a soldier in his depiction.
The earliest skates were made of wood, then later from sharpened bone. Eventually, people discovered iron blades slid most easily across the ice and they fastened them to their feet with leather straps. By the 1890s metal skates were standard and some types even had a special skating boot attached to them, which became the forerunner of modern skates.
Gooderham’s windmill processed grain for their whiskey distillery. The 70 foot tall structure sat on the city’s eastern edge at the mouth of the Don River and marked the southern limit of development in what the City termed the “Windmill Line”. With the city’s consent John Howard breached the windmill line when he constructed the Esplanade to accommodate railway facilities.