Flattened Rink


The old Orillia rink, where I put on my first team sweater when I was about six years old, is suddenly an empty lot. So is my old high school but I’m not missing that.

I always looked for number 9 because it was the Rocket’s. Often in those first few years I’d get it. Survival of the quickest to the sweater heap. And maybe number 9 was more important to me than to the others.

A rink where Ricky Ley, who became a star defenceman in the NHL and WHA, started life as a goalie and was rarely scored upon because he simply laid down across the goal and no one could raise the puck over him.

Where much of  my childhood and adolescent was centered around, and where the old guy who pulled the barrel of water on wheels around to flood it always had a cigarette in his mouth.

When I was a kid having my dad tie my laces, the rink was actually quite new, the same age as me, but it seemed old, with smells I smell to this day. Great smells. Cigars, sweaty sweaters. Distinct smells. It had only been a handful of years but it wasn’t new, not by a long shot.

The demolition company charged $97,000 to level the old barn, which I thought was cheap. It had become unsafe, the roof was the problem, and I guess it’s never good to sit in an arena watching a game and hoping the roof doesn’t fall on your head.

Developers had stayed away from $649,000 asking price because of the added cost of demolishing. But it was smack dab in the heart of Orillia where $96,000 tacked onto the land price shouldn’t be all that outlandish. I don’t know. Is it?

They turned the Montreal Forum into a cinema, coffee shop, liquor store and bank mall. Now I lose my second rink and it only cost $97,000.

It’s where my winters were spent. Where I went public skating. Where I took a puck in the mouth which broke two teeth, when I was sitting in the stands.

Where I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget all-star teams, and where it was a badge of honor to get lots of concussions, long before we knew what a bummer a concussion could actually be.

Hey! I’m going to blame all my teenage and adult poor decisions on my concussions suffered at the old rink when I was kid! This is the best excuse I’ve ever come up with!

Other Orillia and rink stories are in Categories under “Orillia” and include, among others – Psst, Wanna Buy An Arena? and Old Orillia Rink.


6 thoughts on “Flattened Rink”

  1. I know it’s a sign of the times and its added a new phrase to the childhood memories language, “ain’t dere no more”…

  2. What a shame, it was a classic rink. Coaching my daughter’s Leaside Wildcat Peewee C team, we played a game here 2 years in a row in the Orillia Tournament. We won the tourney the second year in 2001. I remember the short benches that had 2 rows! The parents were right on top of us. The other team got a bench penalty for the abuse that rained down from the other team’s supporters. We also played in the old arena in Belleville. I think the community is saving their old arena…and it didn’t even have glass on the side boards! I had to warn the parents not to sit there…as they thought it was a great view. Unbelievable that smoking at kids’hockey games was tolerated only 20 years ago. Sorry for your rink loss Dennis.
    I had a concussion 2 years ago and to my surprise nothing showed up on the MRI. I played a lot of football and soccer as well as years of shinny and expected that I would have some notable brain damage, (as my wife expected) but apparently I don’t have an excuse. You are probably the same.

  3. What a great comment, James. Beautiful. When I played there, the benches were longer and just one row. They probably changed them as part of their trying to keep the roof supported better. I don’t know but I plan on finding out.

  4. It is sad. I think every Orillian has some fond memories of the old place and not just hockey I even saw Johnny Winter play there

  5. Hi Dennis, I was at the old rink 1wk. ago & watched the demolition for about an Hour, what a lot of great memories!
    Also next door the 2nd Guardian Angels school is also tore down
    recently. We went to the 1st one built in the 1800’s.My Dad worked at both. Take care hope to se U sometime!

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