For just $600,000, you can be the proud owner of the Orillia arena. Of course, you have to keep in mind that it’s condemned and has to be torn down (for about $400,000), but at least you’ll own prime property in the core of Orillia where you can put in a miniature golf course or pool hall or something.
The arena was built in 1951 by volunteers, legendary Leafs goalie Turk Broda was there for the opening ceremonies, and it was where I practically lived, where I learned to bang pucks around, and where on Sunday public skating, try to work up the nerve to skate with some of the girls I had mad crushes on.
My buddies and I, Ron Clarke in particular, would trudge up and down the hill, carrying our sticks and duffel bags, and often latch on to car fenders and have them drag us down streets without the drivers having a clue that we were hitching a ride.
Sometimes Ron and I, after leaving the arena, would sit on a stranger’s porch and watch the hockey game through the window, especially those old Habs-Leafs Wednesday night affairs. The people inside, warm as toast, had no idea.
The reason the arena is condemned is because the roof might cave in. Years ago they tried to fix it by erecting god-awful steel beams to prop it up, which you can see in the photos, and these beams not only got in the way of watching the game, but some of them even find their way into the players’ benches and penalty box. Just a horrible thing, but then again, you don’t really want the roof to cave in while someone has a breakaway.
I’m not going to go on and on about all the things that occurred in this old place, after all, you have your own arenas and memories. So I’ll just stick some pictures in so you can have a look. And you can see those god-awful steel beams.