Lined up for a team photograph when hockey was a game in Salmon Arm’s arena around 1914. According to author Denis Marshall, Percy Ruth (fourth from right) stands next to Matt Carroll. The player on the far left is believed to be Charlie Turner. Photo from Fleeting Images, Courtesy of Douglas Ruth and the RJ Haney Heritage Village and Museum Archives

Shuswap hockey history: Where was the region’s first arena?

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

Jim Cooperman

Contributor

Just as Canada could be deemed a hockey nation, so too is the sport so very popular here in the Shuswap.

Throughout the season, many hundreds of players of all ages are on the ice in one of the region’s five arenas in Chase, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Enderby and Lumby. The sport also has a rich local history complete with community teams, arenas and outdoor rinks, tournaments and championship awards that date back to the early days of settlement.

The region’s first arena was a private facility built by Andy Baird in 1904 adjacent to the Shuswap River near the Enderby brickyard. As with all the early rinks, the ice was dependent upon the weather and warm winter temperatures were a common problem that cancelled many games and practices.

Efforts began in 1910 to build a public arena in Enderby, which was finally constructed after the First World War in 1921. The focus on the sport in Enderby no doubt contributed to their team’s success on the rinks, as they won the first Coy Cup in 1923, which was the trophy donated by Colonel Coy for the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association championship award.

The first arena in Salmon Arm was built in 1914. It doubled as a stockyard shed for the Fall Fair Association and was also used by the curling club. It was a grandiose building with a high arch ceiling, but by the mid-thirties the structure was deteriorating. It burned down in 1942 and teams were forced to use outside rinks.

The book Fleeting Images has a number of photos of the early hockey teams posing with their awards, including the high school hockey team, the Tavern All Stars and legendary Maw’s Jam Eaters, which won the city league title in 1940 and was undefeated in 1943-44. Another early team, the Salmon Arm Aces, included imported players who were paid $15 a month and given free rooms.

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Roy Sakaki named Hockey Canada Ambassador

Read more: Former Shuswap Totem receives B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame coaching honours

Read more: Salmon Arm chosen for Rogers Hometown Hockey tour in 2020

Just as today, there were youth teams, women’s teams and old-timer teams. From 1926 until 1933, the coveted prize was the Mainline Hockey League championship award, the Bruhn Cup, donated by local MLA R.W. Bruhn. Teams from Salmon Arm, Enderby, Vernon, Lumby and Revelstoke competed for the cup. Once lost, it was found in the White Lake dump in 1971, refurnished and now displayed by the Minor Hockey Association.

Efforts to build a new arena for Salmon Arm began after the end of the Second World War as a memorial to the war effort. The unique plan they developed resulted in the building of the community owned Salmar Theatre, with the profits going to help pay for the costs of the new arena.

Finally, with support from the city, the Memorial Arena was constructed in 1958. However, it was not until 1961 that the ice plant was installed, which is the same year the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association was formed.

Hockey old-timer and former co-owner of the local hockey school, Gord Mackintosh fondly remembers his early days playing on Lester’s pond in South Canoe, when the games had players of all ages. His first coach was Charlie Williams, who also organized the Native Hockey Tournaments in the 1960s. Equipment was rarely purchased new in those days, as most kids were thrilled to find a used pair of skates under the Christmas tree.

One of Gord’s favourite events was the Saturday night Jamborees, when all the teams each played short five to ten minute long games and at one he scored a goal at the young age of seven. Only a few parents attended the games then and the young players would pack into a few vehicles to travel to tournaments. Once the arena was built, it was the kids who scraped the ice, as there were no Zamboni machines in those days.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Remembrance Day trail in the Park Hill Trail system was named in appreciation of work done by Salmon Arm trail steward Brian Browning and fellow volunteers who visit the trail system each year on or around Nov. 11 to build and/or maintain trails. (Shuswap Trail Alliance photo)
Salmon Arm man’s annual Remembrance Day trail work a tribute to veterans

Brian Browning preparing for two work bees on Nov. 8 and 11

Volunteers with the newly-created Blind Bay Citizens Patrol visited South Shuswap businesses to provide information about their organization on Oct. 28. (Photo contributed)
Blind Bay Citizens Patrol takes to the streets

The organization of the group is a year in the making but patrols will begin soon.

A pair of Oct. 27 vehicle crashes damaged the railing of the RW Bruhn Bridge. (Sicamous RCMP photo)
Railing of Sicamous’ Bruhn Bridge damaged, repairs could take months

Sicamous says sidewalk will be inaccessible to wheelchairs until repairs complete

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never-before-seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

In May 2019, Brennan Joel Metlewsky and Jordan Robert Kupser were charged with attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault stemming from an incident that took place in Vernon in 2017. (Facebook photo)
Attempted murder charges dropped for pair accused in Vernon stabbing

Brennan Metlewsky and Jordan Kupser will appear in Supreme Court to set a new trial date

Eric Termuende and the Emily Dahl Foundation are presenting a virtual ‘fireside conversation’ on modern happiness from the stage of the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon Nov. 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. (YouTube)
Mental health advocate joins happiness chat in North Okanagan

Versed public speaker teams up with Emily Dahl Foundation to equip virtual guests with tools to live a happier life

Most Read