Personal and Accounts and Memories of the First Rink
5 Nights a week
Originally from Clyde River, Reta Beer remembers when she used to skate on the rink. “It was a closed in rink. It had a roof on it and everything. A lot of the rinks had just open air or boards around them. This was closed right in and the men’s dressing room was upstairs and the women’s was downstairs so, that was before we were married. And, my husband used to come in for me in Kingston. And he was a mile and a half from where I was. It was five miles to Cornwall. So, we went five nights a week one year to the rink. … I tell ya. My husband and I we went five times a week. And they would drive with horse and sleigh then to Kingston after me. And, we’d go down and I had an aunt who lived there and he would put his horse in her hen house. There was a rink there, put the horses in the rink. The church had a shed, you put the horses there. He always put them at my aunt’s. Give them a load of slabs then. So that suited them. The sleigh would be out in the yard and to get in that sleigh after skating, you’d be hot skating and then you get in that sleigh and go home and you never minded the cold. But then, again you didn’t dress like they did today. You had more clothes on than that. I didn’t wear slacks, it was skirts you know.”10
The following two stories come from Dutch Thompson’s interview with Louis MacDonald.
Eat, sleep and breathe hockey
LM – “OH OH OH Go, I was 13 and I couldn’t go every night. You could hear them. I’ve gone out with my mother and you could hear them, the roll of skates and then a cheer when somebody”
DT – “scored a goal”
LM – “Yeah well I played hockey till I was 40”11
LM – “Yes there was there was a girls team they came out from town you see and they, well no they, the early year of the rink it was the one armed married men against the womens team and Mrs. Gordon MacMillan she was hysterical see and Seymour Scott was, you know these older men they just kinda go on a straight line and she was makin’ for him he wasn’t a tall man but she skreeched and she went right through his legs (Dutch laughs) But the girls team they came out from town and ah I forget what they must have been playin’ a local and you know the rink it was it would be day light we’d go down fairly early well there was a …. But anyhow getting back to the girls hockey team. There was a man down here his wife was dead and it would be pretty bright in the evening ya know and boys he was hikin’ ‘er down across the field. And, the girls would, well they weren’t changin’ but by that time they had pretty scanty clothing on so he wanted to be in and have a look (Dutch laughs)”12
A multi-purpose rink
Although still a young boy when the rink shut down, Meadow Bank resident Lawson Drake can remember when a school fair was held at the Cornwall rink. He describes the rink in its last days as a ‘rickety old structure’. He remembers the dressing rooms at one end of the rink on the upper level, but at that time it was unsafe to go on the stairs. It was during the summertime when a school fair took place in the building. Students had brought their projects to put on displayed and to be judged. He remembers drawing a picture, which unfortunately did not merit a prize!13
There was no designated area to leave a horse, but many people who brought their horse and sleigh to the rink left their horses in one of two places; the horse shed at the United Church or the horse shed belonging to Frank Howard, who lived just up the road from the rink.
A Near mishap
Lance Lowther remembers his father talking about going to the indoor rink for hockey games sometimes volunteering to take tickets at the door. “One night one fella had come from the tavern and kicked the stove over and dad said to throw him out, he almost set fire to the rink!”14