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Arena built for 'equivalent of a modest home in today's city'

Find out what notable rock bank Mully recalls playing at the Confederation, and the northern connections at the World Junior's
Benjamin Gaudreau at the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships.

What a great World Juniors. Canadian hockey fans were once again delighted to follow Canada's adventure to a gold medal. For Northern Ontario fans it was a little more satisfying than usual with two northern boys playing a big part for Team Canada. Benjamin Gaudreau of Corbeil and Jack Matier of the Soo have now added World Junior Hockey Championship (WJHC) gold to their stellar resumes. What a thrill for them and their families.

Two other boys with northern connections — Red Savage and Cutter Gauthier — picked up bronze medals with Team USA. Red is the son of former NHLer and Sudbury native Brian Savage.

Cutter's dad Sean is also a former NHLer and Sudbury native.

It always makes the WJHC more fun to watch when there is familiarity with some of the names.  

This year's edition of the tournament was probably the most competitive in many years.

The playoff round offered epic battles like Sweden/Finland and Canada/Slovakia in the quarters. The Sweden/Czechia and USA/Canada semis were pure hardcore entertainment.

Add to that amazing bronze and gold medal games, and we were spoiled with a fever-pitch level of play and intrigue.

Now we get the chance to watch our Under 18 Women try to defend their gold medal from 2022. Big game Wednesday when the 2-0 Americans face their archrival, the 2-0 Canadians. Like Shania says, “Let's go girls!”

The foundation of the Confederation Arena

My mother and grandmother have put together a rather comprehensive collection of historical data during their lifetime. Although my grandmother, Julia Giacomazzi, passed in '02, my mom has continued the tradition for the last 20 years.

So I thought I'd share information from article about the Centennial or Confederation Arena I came across this week. I'll share the context of the article that appeared July 21, 1967, in the Timmins Daily Press written by Richard Cameron.

The rink was picked by a public survey as the Town of Timmins' 1967 project for Canada’s centennial.

The rink would also be a replacement for the community arena destroyed by fire 20 years previous. 

The estimated cost at the time for the rink that was being built at the corner of Cameron Street and Wende Avenue, where it still stands, was $300,000. 

The town committed $190,000, about $60,000 was expected from the federal and provincial governments through grants and the Timmins Centennial Skating Rink Committee was to provide the remainder. The group launched a public campaign to raise $100,000, half of which was for the rink itself. 

“The remaining $50,000, although it could be returned to the Town of Timmins to ease a large rink debenture issue, will probably be earmarked for rink extras, such as a game timer and public address system, and possibly heating,” reads the article. 

It was designed by Timmins architect Roy Turner as a basic shell to allow additions and constructed by Hembruff and Dambrowitz of Matheson.

“The rink as now being constructed, will be provided with an ice-making plant. This plant would be of sufficient capacity to handle a three-sheet curling rink, if and when one is built. Benches for approximately 400 spectators are being installed, at a cost of $2,000,” reads the report.

With a concrete floor, the 80 by 180-foot ice surface was expected to provide winter recreation, run by the town’s recreation department, from October to April. In the summer, it would allow for the building to be used for fairs, shows, displays, roller skating and indoor sports.

For an idea of costs, the prefabricated building was $50,421, the ice-making equipment and installation by Creamery Package Manufacturing Company of Canada was $24,000, the site cost $24,000 and the architectural fee was $9,511.

“We must all work together on this Centennial project if it is to be a success,” Leo Lalonde, the committee chairman, told reporters at the time.

And successful it would be, as an arena and special events home for decades and in its current role as a multi-sport complex.

As a very young boy, I can still remember playing our first games there with Moneta Rec.

I also attended rock concerts there in the summers, most notably Crowbar, whose concert left my friends and me legally deaf for a week. Boxing, a lacrosse league, ACT clinic, minor hockey, women's and men's hockey, and the annual World Wristwrestling Championships would also make the Centennial its home.

Hard to believe a rink was built for the equivalent of a modest home in today's city.

When you look at the rink today it has held up very well for a building that’s been well used over half a century. It sure was a solid investment still giving great value today.

For an awful lot of us, the old rink sure has provided a bounty of treasured memories.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention a name familiar to many in our area, who was an integral part to getting the Centennial built. Garth Brillinger was the campaign co-ordinator of the project.

The thing that probably makes me the happiest about this story is that it's hard to miss the fact that it was truly a community achievement. A co-operative effort focused on bringing a need to the citizens of our area.

I thought people might be interested in this story as our recreational facilities have been a major discussion point of late (again) in the city. And like most community success stories,  a can-do spirit and innovative ideas can lead to many positive outcomes if we so desire.

Well, that and money!  

Later, Skater.   

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