New arena a big deal for Dauphin

Published on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 07:43

By Ed Stozek
For the Herald

On the evening of July 29, 1951, a fire of unknown origin burst into flames and burned Dauphin’s skating rink to the ground.

The fire broke out at 9 p.m. and in 15 to 20 minutes the rink was totally engulfed in flames. In less than an hour the structure was reduced to a mass of twisted steel girders.

The rink was located next to the powerhouse on Front Street. (former liquor commission site) Owned by the municipality, it had been constructed in 1927 at a cost of $19,000. With a seating capacity of 1,500 the arena hosted a variety of hockey games, carnivals and other rink associated activities.

Immediately after the fire, members of the Dauphin town council met in an emergency session to discuss the building of a new arena in time for use for the upcoming winter and the ways and means of financing the project.

“Resolutions were passed by the Dauphin Town Council and the Dauphin Agricultural Society at a special meeting on Friday and Saturday and have opened the way for placing $86,000 into a fund this year for the construction of a livestock and skating arena with the organization being responsible for the building of the Dauphin Memorial Community Centre property for the centralization of community activities including new agricultural fair grounds.” (Aug. 9, 1951, Dauphin Herald)

At this time the agricultural society decided to postpone the moving of the fairgrounds to the DMCC property for a period of two years in order to give priority to the building of the arena.

It was interesting to note the progress of construction of the arena as reported in the Dauphin Herald.

The laying of the foundation started in early September. By mid-September preparations were being made for the initial delivery of the 33 wooden laminated arch shaped trusses manufactured at a factory in Boissevain.

The first two shipments, each carrying four complete trusses, were shipped in halves and arrived on Sept. 18.

The unusual trailer used to bring in the trusses, itself was made of parts of the arches to fit its load.

To raise the heavy arches, a supervisor from Boissevain, Jack Harvey, noted tripods almost as tall as the building were constructed. Tractors were used to pull the arches up by means of the tripods. Harvey anticipated that under ideal conditions a crew could erect four arches per day.

Near the end of September, a snow storm impeded the building progress as it was too muddy and wet to work. On Oct. 18 the last arch was lifted into place as work continued in the interior of the arena.

An appeal was made in early November to raise an additional $20,000.

“If money was not raised only a few seats may be constructed and large portions of the crowd would have to stand.” (Nov.r 1, 1951, Dauphin Herald)

A report on Dec. 6 revealed workers busy at all sections of the arena. The 15-member DMCC board was confident that the arena would be ready for the Dec. 10 official opening with seating for 2,000 hockey fans.

Tickets for the opening night program were being sold throughout the district. Plans were to have one of the doors open for ticket holders to expediate not having to wait in line behind patrons buying tickets on game night.

Prior to the game, players lined up on their respective bluelines for the official opening.

Al McKee served as the master of ceremonies. For the cutting of the ribbon he introduced Mayor Bulmore, Reeve Potoski, Howard Campbell, the president of the Dauphin Agricultural Society, and William Cruise, the chairman of the DMCC board.

The fans were also treated to a skating exhibition by figure skating club instructor, Joyce Clinton. A moccasin dance was also performed following the game.

“Playing their third game of the young season, Dauphin’s new livestock and skating arena rang with the cheers of the largest crowd ever to see a hockey game here Monday night as 2,652 screaming fans saw the Brandon Wheat Kings skate to an exciting 9-5 victory over the Dauphin Kings in an exhibition hockey match which marked the official opening of the arena.” (Dec. 13, 1951, Dauphin Herald)

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