From the archives of the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre:
The Timmins Arena, also called the Big Rink and the Coliseum, was built in 1914 by the Timmins Townsite Company, a subsidiary of Hollinger Mines. At first, its primary purpose was skating only, welcoming its first ice dancers on New Year’s Eve.
As hockey grew in popularity in the mining camp, the arena was modified to accommodate the trending sport.
Over the years, the arena hosted a great variety of programs and events, and was a great symbol of pride to the community. Its 1,500 seats were packed with boisterous crowds during many boxing matches in the early days.
At the start of the First World War, streams of people lined the street to say their goodbyes to the soldiers of Timmins as they marched from the rink to the train station. And in the 1920s, the building provided refuge on rainy days to the farmer’s market, which was hosted on a neighbouring lot.
On the morning of February 23, 1947, while two broomball teams were facing off, a group of boys were in the dressing room daring each other to set a match to the paper walls. Within minutes, the dry, wooden building was a mass of flames and before long the roof had caved in.
Luckily no one was injured in the event, but the town had lost its beloved recreational facility.
Each week, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.