Communities and Families | Logan’s 1845 Journal | The Rinks Through the Years
Hockey Heritage | Memories | Strategic Planning & Feasibility

 

Memories

Our Heartfelt Thanks to those of you have written down these Memories for us.  If you have a memory or two to share please Contact Us.  Memories make history come alive.

“In 1971 Ron was coaching the Pee Wees, and the team won the League championship in Cobden.”   (Ron Ethier is Bernie’s older brother.)

“At that time each team had to supply their own referee.  I, (Bernie), was chosen to be the referee for Ron’s team, so I was going with them to Cobden for this important game.  With all the excitement of the win, Ron and  the parents left Cobden with the kids, but forgot me!   It was only when they returned to Westmeath that someone realized that I was missing.  I was left behind in Cobden!  Ron eventually came back to get me.

“When we were in our early teens I can always remember Dan Kelly could shoot the puck from one end of the rink (166 ft.) and  “hoist” the puck high enough to hit the windows in the hall at the other end of the rink. Of course the windows were covered in mesh so the windows weren’t broken,  but  just imagine the ability to do that at his age then which was probably 13 or 14 years old.”

From  Bernie Ethier

 

A hockey coach remembers: “The better offensive players from my era:  Lyle Dupuis, Larry Dupuis, Jim Bertrand, John Bertrand, Rick Bromley, Ian Bromley, Peter Ethier, Bruce Ethier, Mike Watson, Terry Kenny, Eddy Desjardins  and Hugh McBride, ( whose Grandpa gave him a 10¢  for every goal he made).

“Chris St. Louis – nobody could tighten his skates but Ron Ethier – Ron was so honoured.”

From Bob Watson

 

On short winter days as the light receded and as the farm chores were completed, one’s thoughts were brightened by thoughts of a skate at the local rink.  After a hasty meal, my sister Greta and I, skates over our shoulders would face the bitterly cold north wind blowing across the open fields as we quickly walked to the rink seeking the shelter of the village’s houses on our way.

We were encouraged by thoughts of the welcoming heat provided by the wood-fire box stoves in the rink’s waiting rooms: ladies on the north side and gents on the south.  The latest local gossip accompanied the lacing of skates and soon we launched onto the ice surface.

The music created an atmosphere which encouraged thoughts of approaching a skating partner….the long flowing hair of the girls and the short-cropped brush cuts of the guys represented the styles of the time.  The village families which provided sons who were leading hockey players (the Ethiers, Gervais, Conroys, etc) also presented daughters who were very accomplished skating partners.  On a good night after a flirtatious skate, one would occasionally gather enough courage to propose an after-skate Coco-Cola at Shea’s Cafe’.  If luck prevailed the late night journey home was amazingly shorter and the stars decidedly brighter.”

From Del O’Brien


“My early memories are of skating Saturday and sometimes Tuesday nights.  Having come from the one room Pleasant Valley School, I loved the chance to meet and skate with a lot of new people. They always had music playing to skate by and it seemed very exotic and exciting.

“I also remember the folks from “the island” (Allumette Island) who made the trek across the ice to skate in that grand old rink as well.

“Other great times in the old building were the curling nights with names like Bill (WB) Timm, Vern and Lillis Couturier, Emmard and, Lorette Couturier, Ron and Gail Ethier, Bert and Jean Timm and many,  many more. We had real curling stones and had the circles painted on the ice of the skating rink which was a bit of a chore – not like pebbled curling ice today, but great fun.

“While not being a hockey player I did love the broom ball games which were very popular in those “Participaction” days before wide screen TV and computers.

“I particularly remember the excitement of being part of the setting up of the WDRA (Westmeath and District Recreation Association) in the early 70’s and the adrenalin rush of making a new arena and hall complex really happen in Little Old Westmeath! Key players included Bob Bromley, Ron and Gail Ethier, Ron and Giselle Shields, Bob and Yvette Watson, Art and Carol Bromley, Harris and Linda O’Brien, Edgar and Esther White, Jean Timm, Bryan and Lynn Dupuis, Ingo and Anne Leinen and a host of others.

“I also vividly remember the somber mood the morning after the fire in the arena with the committee picking their way through the blackened, water soaked rubble of the old hall where there was some floor left and the mess down below. Even then the talk was how can we build it better, and we did!

“My overriding memory of those times with building the new building and ball park was the pervasive optimism, of the group. A belief that “yes we can” do it and if we put it there, the future will embrace it and keep it there for our children and grandchildren. I think history has proven it to be true as new volunteers step forward and new ideas continue to flourish. It truly is a Community Centre. “

From Izett McBride


“One memory I have with the new rink is the first year it was built the WRDA received a grant and hired a summer student as Recreation Director, which was me. Rachel Bowie of the Bromley Line was also hired and we ran a summer program for young kids. We were also responsible for helping put the lines on the concrete in the rink. We had volleyball, tennis and badminton. Lots of activity in the late 70,s and many more kids.

“The Power of Presence: “In 1970 when I was in grade six, the Catholic School Board decided to bus the grade six students to Our lady of Lourdes in Pembroke. This was a very traumatic experience for many of us as we were know as “the country kids” and were all put in one class. The city kids were not too excited to join our class and mix with us.

“That year Our Lady of Lourdes hired a new grade six teacher by the name of Mrs. Crampton. One of my fondest memories of her involved the old rink. Each year we had a winter carnival with hockey games, skating races and many other activities. I remember the thrill of looking along the sidelines that Saturday at carnival and seeing Mrs. Crampton there with her family. A small investment of time on her part, but a memory in an old rink that spoke volumes to a country kid. The place is gone but the memory lingers.”

From Cheryl Spotswood


“The Rink: Everytime I think about the old (original) rink in Westmeath, my mind goes back to the time when our children were learning to skate in the ‘60s. The big night for families was Saturday.The biggest drawing card for the children was the snack bar and they anticipated being able to buy a “treat” there before they returned home.

“Except for one boy – whenever his family came into the rink , he headed for the snack bar and promptly asked for a Bar Six. This never varied and his nick name officially became  Bar Six !!

“Curling:   As a young married couple in the 1950s, we were excited when W.B. Timm suggested a curling club might be a nice addition to our rink. He had received rocks etc. from a curling club  where he had previously been a member. He was a “community man” and did many things to make Westmeath a better place to live.

“Once the lines were marked and painted, the call went out for any interested people to show up and learn this new sport. W.B. was a great teacher and with the help of other ” old timers” many of us were taught how to throw , curl and sweep.

“All went well until some of the older members  decided that they didn’t want novices on THEIR teams. It seemed they were more interested in winning than playing and enjoying the sport.

“The result was that many of the novices felt unwelcome  and left for other , more welcoming, venues.  Pity !!”

From Beryl & Arthur McBride

 

“Saturday Night at the Westmeath Rink: The original rink was across the street where the modern version stands today. There was a small wooden anti room with a pot bellied stove in the middle where we laced up our skates. The ladies of the Rink Committee cooked boiled hot dogs with steamed buns and occasionally I was allowed to have one. They were so good!

“ Living in Pleasant Valley two miles outside the village, the Saturday night skate was the social highlight of my winter weekends. It was there that I connected with friends in the village, the odd boyfriend, and of course honed my skating skills. After the skate we would head home to watch Hockey Night in Canada and enjoy the cinnamon toast my Mom would make for us.

“Teen Dances at the Old Town Hall:     The Lions Club organized summer dances for the teens in the village in the old community hall. The Lions Club volunteers would sit on the stage and spin the records. The disadvantage for me was that my father was a member of the Lions Club and never missed a dance. So any boy who wanted to dance with me had to do so under the watchful eye of my father! And needless to say there was no sneaking out for smokes or kisses!”

From Nhanci Wright

 

A life-long volunteer:  “I remember when the old rink and its booth were tendered out to people in the area for little or nothing. They would look after the operation of it for the entire season.

“At a meeting in the upstairs Curling Club to open tenders for the next winter season in the early 1960’s I spoke up and said:  “Why can’t we look after the rink ourselves?”  The rink committee decided that night that with the help of volunteers, they could operate the rink and the booth and the proceeds would belong to the rink.

“Families volunteered to look after the rink for a week at a time including cleaning, making the fires, flooding the ice and operating the booth. All monies raised went to the Rink Association. Some years we only made about $500.00 and other years we made more.  Extra fund raisers were held including bean and chicken supers, skating parties, Miles for Millions Walks, Carnivals and New Year’s Eve Dances.

“The rink was very busy with hockey, skating, broomball, curling and other special events.

“When the old wooden rink was condemned in 1973 we had already raised $25,000.00 towards the building of the Westmeath and District Recreation Association Community Centre.

“……I remember when we held the first Westmeath Weekend in the Centennial Year 1967. We had a large parade, people dressed in centennial costumes and the streets were lined with people.  We served a meal out of the anti-room at the rink.  Everyone enjoyed chicken with potato salad and all the trimmings.”

From Laurette Couturier


Laurette’s daughter recalls:    “I remember when it was our week to look after the old rink. My whole family got involved.  We had to go over early and make the fires.  We had to man the booth.  Cold drinks and other items would have to be brought home each night so they wouldn’t freeze.  Back then the drinks were in glass bottles in a heavy wooden case.

We had a few young lads who would stay after skating or hockey – we called them Rink Rats.  They would help scrape the ice to clean off the excess snow before flooding.  Their payment was a hotdog and a soft drink.
“We had to flood the ice. I remember my brothers and my Dad filling the big barrel with water from the well at the back of the rink.  The barrel had a long pipe attached to the bottom with small holes along the length of the pipe.  They would push it around the ice surface dripping the water to flood the ice.  It did a really good job.

“After cleaning up we could go home. They were always very long nights.”

“I remember enjoying a lot of good times in the old rink. On Saturday nights the ice surface would be packed for public skating.

“I remember being a part of the Wednesday night Curling Club. It consisted of 4 rinks – 16 people.  The men in the community had built a room above the anti-rooms for the Club.  At the end of the evening we would gather upstairs for refreshments. My Mom would make doughnuts and we would sell coffee and donuts to make extra money for the curling club.”

From Lynn Dupuis

“I remember in 1974 the Westmeath Rink Association decided to erect the current arena in Westmeath.  We had approximately $50,000.00, but needed $50,000.00 more.  Several members of the community agreed to sign individual bank notes in the amount of $10,000.00 each.

“This opened the way for us to accept the offer made by the contractor to proceed with purchase of the new community centre.

“I received a call the Township solicitor Mr. Delbert O’Brien that this signing had to be done immediately due to the pending 20% increase in the cost of the building. Under Mr. O’Brien’s direction the contract to purchase and construct the new building was signed by the Treasurer Vern Couturier and then R.A. President, myself, Bryan Dupuis.

“Construction began in 1974 with a great deal of local labour under the supervision of Martin  Vereyken of Beachburg.

“I was president of the R.A. from the time we decided we needed a new rink in 1972 until the construction of the new facility was completed in 1977.”

From Bryan Dupuis