All Stories

“First Winter” Programming at The Bentway

This year, The Bentway’s winter season celebrates the diverse communities that make up Toronto and explores what it is to experience winter in our city for the first time.

Every newcomer remembers their first Toronto winter – watching streetcars make their way through snow-lined streets, finding their local neighborhood skating rink, or discovering local winter pastimes that help us embrace this cold season.

The Bentway invited Toronto artist Shellie Zhang to create an installation for our iconic Skate Trail, connecting her artistic practice and lived experience to the larger conversation among the diasporic communities throughout the city. Zhang’s installation Beacons reflects on the interwoven layers of identity, the role of community, and the power of memory and nostalgia rooted within their First Winter. Alongside Beacons, the season features a series of public programs including creative workshops, performances, and recreational activities to bring newcomers and long-time residents together to celebrate the moments of light and connection that have come to uniquely define a Toronto winter season.

As Toronto continues to welcome many newcomers to the city every year, we’re asking our communities to reflect on the moments of connection that helped shape their first season. What spaces or activities brought you joy, or warmth? During these long and dark months, where did you find light? How does this First Winter experience differ for each of us, and how can public space be a site for coming together and celebrating these experiences across multiple communities? 

Beacons by Shellie Zhang

December 17, 2022 – February 20, 2023 at The Bentway Skate Trail

You’re Invited…

Lunar New Year Celebration

January 22, 2023
12pm – 3pm
The Bentway Skate Trail

Join us to celebrate the beginning of Lunar New Year, a festival of prosperity, abundance, and togetherness celebrated by the East and South Asian community.


The Land You Came From, The Land You Are On
January 26, 2023 from 7pm – 9pm at Fort York National Historic Site (Meet at the Skate Trail)

Gather around the fire for an evening of storytelling, knowledge sharing, and community warmth. This creative workshop invites newcomers to Tkaronto to learn first-hand knowledge of the history of this land and the people who cared for it, while also sharing their own stories and journey. Joining us for the workshop? Register for a newcomer skate lesson on the same evening.


First Winter Stories: Creative Storytelling Workshop
February 2, 2023 from 7pm – 9pm at The Bentway Studio (55 Fort York Blvd.)

Register Here

In this creative workshop, we invite the newcomer community to share stories of their own “First Winter” experience through a variety of art-based storytelling methods such as collage, drawing, writing, or embroidery. Joining us for the workshop? Register for a newcomer skate lesson on the same evening.


Midwinter Concert with Small World Music

February 9, 2023
7pm – 10pm
The Bentway Studio
(55 Fort York Blvd)

Register Here

Take in the sounds of musicians from newcomer communities during an intimate concert at The Bentway Studio at Canoe Landing Campus. Joining us for the concert? Register for a newcomer skate lesson on the same evening.

*Additional tickets will be released in January 2023*


Family Day Skate Party

February 20, 2023
12pm – 9pm
The Bentway Skate Trail

Celebrate the last day of The Bentway’s winter season on Family Day with a free, all-ages, DJ Skate Party! Featuring local newcomer DJs, uplifting music, and diverse refreshments.


First Winter Memories

Throughout the skate season, The Bentway is collecting and sharing stories, images, and memories from newcomer communities across the city as they reflect on their own First Winter here in Toronto. What moments of connection or joy brought you light during these darker months?


Newcomer Skate Lessons (Age 12+) at The Bentway Skate Trail
Beginning January 26, 2023

On select nights, newcomer community groups are bringing their members to The Bentway to take to the ice for the first time, guided by expert instructors. If you are a newcomer and would like to learn more, please email us at [email protected]


Communal Dinner with Newcomer Kitchen
February 16, 2023 from 7pm – 9pm at The Bentway Studio (55 Fort York Blvd.)

To celebrate the end of the season, participants in the newcomer programs will come together to enjoy a communal dinner hosted by The Bentway and Newcomer Kitchen, a non-profit and social enterprise led by Syrian refugee women. If you are a newcomer and would like to learn more, please email us at [email protected]