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

Word on the street: What is your biggest pet peeve regarding cellphone use?

In light of Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week run by the… Continue reading

In photos: Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet at Larch Hills

The race saw over 700 athletes take to the ski trails

Habitat for Humanity ReStore planned for former Safeway location in Salmon Arm

If renovations go as planned, store in Centenoka Park Mall could open in May or June

In photos and video: Snow collapses cat shelter at Shuswap SPCA

Organization says no cats were injured, help wanted to rebuild

Sports shorts

Keep up to date with local sporting events and news segments Wrestler… Continue reading

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Pioneer families lived in Summerland’s Prairie Valley area

Darke and Dale families played roles in community’s early history

Princeton RCMP make quick arrest in armed robbery after ‘brief struggle’

Princeton RCMP have arrested a suspect in connection with an armed robbery… Continue reading

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Help sought in developing family practices in South Okanagan and Similkameen

An estimated 15,000 people in region do not have a family doctor

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Animal lovers cautioned against feeding urban deer – even if they beg at the window

Even if the deer press their little faces against your kitchen window… Continue reading

Most Read