First off, Thanks to Richard Lamoureux for posting some great pictures of the construction of the Centennial Arena on the Timmins Sports Heritage Hall of Fame site, with a link to my story here at TimminsToday. Richard has posted a number of fantastic historical photos over the years and they are much appreciated by many.
Keep it up, Richard.
Well aside from the 1975 Flyers homage with 18 penalty minutes in the semis vs Finland, our women's U/18 team was a juggernaut, capped by a rout of Sweden in the World Championships. With back-to-back gold medals, Canada's women's program looks to have a bright core ready to keep Canada at the top for years to come. I was pleased to see that some of the other nations are stepping up their game not only team-wise but player-wise also. Sweden, Finland, Canada, USA, Czechia and Slovakia all have players that are standouts.
Obviously, the big four have the majority of those players, but the gap has closed just a bit more again. Having a Sweden-Canada final is good for the game. After years of U.S.-Canada finals, a new name in the final is a bright light for the women's game.
If you have followed female hockey for any length of time you will notice one dramatic improvement that gets better year after year.
For the longest time, it was a skating game with a lot of close-in goals and net-area play. But now the game is much improved due to vastly better shooting and passing skills.
I can remember going to development camps or symposiums in the early 2000s where there was a lot of talk about the lack of overall shooting and puck skills and that that would be the accepted part of the game. The thought was that girls did not have the strength for hard shots or crisp passing. Fortunately, a large number of coaches, mentors and individual skill instructors dismissed that notion. With an emphasis on developing those skills and a dedication of more time and practice devoted to such, it has resulted in a huge leap in how the game is played. Tight space passing, stretch passing, point shots that get through for goals or redirects, and quality shots off the rush are no longer a rarity. By committing to the improvement of puck skills the players and coaches have made the game much more exciting to watch and play. And, of course, the girls can still fly. I know at our house Canada's female teams' games are watched and enjoyed every bit as much as the male teams.
Why the Mac's Worthy of a Heritage Designation
In last week's column, I mentioned that I thought it was timely to write about the building of the Centennial Arena as recreation facilities seemed to be a hot topic again. And a day later comes news that a new recreation master plan update is in the works at city hall. In next week's column, I'll talk (a lot) about what I feel are some of the important issues are, and how to maybe address them. (Like anybody cares.) In the meantime, I'd like to touch on something else.
The McIntyre Community Centre. That's the official name. It's not the McIntyre arena. The arena is just a part of the centre.
What has befuddled me for years is how and why the Mac has not been declared a historical site. I brought this subject up in my old column in the early 2000s. I received a ton of feedback from politicians and the general public, some supportive, some not, and some "who cares". But it did bring up a serious discussion which (yawn) led nowhere.
I'm sure that I will hear from someone who will tell me it's in the works. But I doubt it. And if I do, why is it 15 years after I brought it up? And I'm certainly not the first to have broached this subject, so unless I've missed some meetings will it ever get done? And if it is in the works, maybe some of what I am pointing out will be of help in that endeavour and add some background that is beneficial.
If you don't think a facility with the rich history and storied tradition of the Mac is worthy of heritage designation then stop reading here.
The Ontario Heritage Act allows for the designation of buildings as historical sites to buildings they deem are of "cultural heritage value or interest". Sounds like the Mac to me.
Are there criteria? Of course, there are. A quick look at the Ontario Heritage Act can show you the criteria.
Ask people of any age what the Mac has meant to them in the course of their or their family's lives.
Here’s a very abbreviated list of events hosted by the McIntyre Community Centre.
One of Canada's largest selection of local hockey products to ply their skill at an early age and parlay those skills into pro hockey careers. It’s a hotbed for the biggest names in figure skating and one of the very first to have a summer skating school. NHL games have been played at the rink. It’s home to a myriad group of provincial championship-winning teams, eastern and central champion teams, and national championship participants. It’s hosted Men's national teams such as Finland, Poland, Canada, Czechia, Switzerland, and Russia. It’s been home to two World Under 17 Championships.
Professional and amateur boxing and wrestling. The Harlem Globetrotters. World-renowned circuses. An annual multi-cultural event celebrating dozens of locals heritage. Concerts from Alice Cooper, April Wine and dozens more world-class artists. One of the world's largest mining shows. Roller derby!
Curling bonspiels, provincial and national championships. Our beloved Father Les even had his funeral there. It has a history of summer ice long before most facilities had the capacity to do so.
There have been high-level meetings and gatherings in the gym and auditorium. Add in the once proud McIntyre ball park and park itself, and the site oozes history.
Local communities can "list" a site as historical for local interest, but that is not on par with a provincial designation. But it may be a viable means to secure some type of historical designation.
As someone who has played or coached in just about every barn in Ontario and a boatload in Quebec in my lifetime, I think I may know a thing or two about historical buildings. At least one that I know of has received the historical designation. And the Mac not having that designation is an oversight at the least.
I know some people have put forward the idea that once you designate the Mac as a historical site, you may be handcuffed if you try to update or renovate the site. That may or may not have been true a few years back but not today.
Depending on who (local or provincial) has deemed it a historical site, you might have to obtain a heritage permit to make improvements. An objective of historical designation is to see that the site maintains as much of the original as possible. But all buildings require upkeep and upgrades and or some sort of renovation or expansion to continue to serve the community.
I know of one facility that received historical designation years ago. And since then has had infrastructure upgrades, new humidifiers, HVAC upgrades, LED lighting, new boards, new clock and so forth.
If in any way a historical designation were to limit any future upgrades to the Mac, I'd be the first to say whoa. But do you think as part of a master recreation plan some research could be done to see about the historical designation and how it may recognize and protect the facility, along with identifying any potential hurdles to improvements or expansion?
Don't forget, historical designations preserve and protect and provide resources and potential sources of funding for said sites.
Maybe the Mac is not part of any long-range plan and even with historical designation may no longer be sustainable. Some do feel that way. But maybe it is still a sound facility with room for growth and an economically viable source to continue serving our community for years to come. The answer is in the research and projections that would need to take place.
Maybe I'm being too pie in the sky. But I would like to think somebody takes a piece of that pie to see if it's any good.
So in summary — Is it worth the effort to dig deeply into what benefits (economic and cultural) a historical designation would bring?
Look. I have a column and a lot of experience in sport. I'm proud of our local history and hopeful for our future. I'm not looking to rattle anybody's chain. I’m merely throwing an idea out there and hoping for creative discussion.
It's an intricate process to tackle. But it may just be worthwhile.
And finally just a note to my former Timmins Flyers AAA Juvenile cohorts.
At the recent Theriault Alumni Tournament, I was asked by some of the players from our 1983-84 and 1984-85 NOHA championship teams, what happened to the banners. Well, I'm looking into that right now and can tell you that if I don't find where they went I'll make sure we have new ones made up soon.
Oh, geez! Almost forgot to take time to gloat as a Canadian.
Think Canada had a good year on the ice?
Mens U/18 Gold Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Back-to-back World Junior Gold.
Back-to-back Women’s U/18 World Championship Gold.
Olympic Gold Women’s National Team.
World Championship Gold Women’s National Team.
(Insert national anthem here.)
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