The North River Rink

The Third Rink

North River "Rink" 2011

In 1948, North River farmer and businessman Fulton Warren decided that there needed to be a quality ice rink to serve North River and the surrounding area. The outdoor rink in Cornwall was falling into disrepair at that time and was just not sufficient enough for quality hockey. ‘Fultie’ and his business partner, Bruce MacKinley had therefore decided to construct a rink in North River. They decided to build the rink on the corner of Bruce’s farm; he owned 20 acres of land surrounding the rink.

There was at the time closed in rinks in the communities of Bedeque and Murray Harbour, which the men had gone to see to get an idea of what they might like to do.2 The men then found a lot in Emyvale in which they could obtain the lumber they needed to build the rink. Fultie signed the contract to cut four acres for a cost of $270. The contract was signed on a stump! Approximately thirty to forty men from the North River and surrounding communities were recruited to help cut lumber during the 1948-49 winter season. The men who worked on the project, whether they cut the lumber or helped in the construction were offered either fifty cents an hour or shares in the rink (at $10.00 a share) as payment. Fultie kept close track of the hours worked by each man to ensure that they were paid fairly.3

The wood was cut and hauled out, which at times was difficult and placed in a field until it could be moved to the mill for processing the following summer. Fultie, his father and brother ran the mill in Warren Grove, and all the milling for the lumber in the North River rink was done there. Herber Campbell was the main carpenter hired for the construction of the rink. Douglas Bros. and Jones were later hired to install the huge rafters, as they had the necessary equipment for the job.4

During the fall of 1949 while the men were working on the rink, about a dozen rafters that they had up came crashing down. They had been installed improperly and unfortunately did not stay standing. Buddy MacKinley junior remembers being up in a tree picking apples on his family farm (which would have been on the same property) and hearing a loud noise. As he looked up he could see the rafters falling down like dominos. Miraculously no-one was seriously injured but the men had to start all over again.5

North River Rink Construction

Photo Courtesy of "Buddy" and Margaret MacKinley

The roof was finally completed in early January of 1950. The crew anxiously awaited the cold weather to come so they could flood the rink. The weather had been mild that year and the crew was unable to level out the ice surface because of the mud. Finally the temperature dropped on January 8th and Fultie was able to put about a foot of water onto the playing area and make it level. The next night, the rink was open for business.6

North River Rink 1950

Photo Courtesy of "Buddy" and Margaret MacKinley

Fultie and Bruce ran the North River rink for twenty two years before selling it to Hollace Corney. During the first years of operation Bruce MacKinley (senior) was president, Fultie Warren was vice-president, Bruce’s wife, Doris was the secretary and Freda Warren was the canteen manager.7 MacKinley and Warren worked constantly on the rink, six days a week. The rink was flooded by water from a nearby pond which sat north of the MacKinley’s farm. However, when the TransCanada was built, it ran right in between the rink and the pond, and the pond could no longer be used. As a result, two wells were dug in order to supply the water needed to flood the rink. After running the rink for a good number of years, the two men decided to sell. The rink was purchased by Hollace Corney in 1971.8

Mr. Corney made other major changes to the rink in the time that he owned it. He immediately created an artificial ice surface, and brought in a Zamboni, the first on Prince Edward Island. The most drastic change however, came as the wooden building was replaced with steel. Corney had the intention of moving the rink to a different location after the TransCanada Highway had been constructed so closely to the rink, but Corney ran into some complications and was not given permission to do so. That was when he tore down the wooden structure and replaced it with steel. These changes were all made by 1975 and at that time the seating capacity for the rink was 1400.9

Corney himself always played an active role in the rink, he was always seen taking money at the door, working the canteen or driving the Zamboni. Hockey leagues and figure skating clubs started up at the rink. Corney also booked the rink for other events such as open skates as well as roller skating and wrestling matches in the summertime. The North River rink became known as ‘Hollace’s Ice Palace’ during the time of his ownership. After 13 years of running the rink Corney decided to slow down and lease the rink to Virgo Enterprises, which was a community business group.10 Corney officially put the rink up for sale in 1998, but it was not sold until a few years later.11  The building is now used for the weekly fleat market.

rink renos

Renovations to the North River Rink 2006, the ice servace was removed

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Clory

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