What, There Was Another Arena?

Not once in my lifetime, which began around the time Queen Victoria got her first bra, did I ever think that there might have been an arena in Orillia before the one they have now, which, by the way, is where I was a smallish-yet shifty right winger, and which is about to become the recipient of the wrecking ball.

But of course there was an arena before the present day one. Did I think nobody played hockey in Orillia before 1950, which is when the newer one was built?

My 91-year old dad filled me in recently. He said it was a roofless arena, and he told me where it was, which you probably don’t care about. He mentioned that he used to hitchhike down from Gravenhurst to see games involving Orillia, the Gravenhurst Indians, Midland British Consols, Camp Borden Flyers, and Sundridge Indians.

This was all news to me, and if you would’ve been with me a couple of weeks ago when I heard about all this, you would’ve seen a surprised and bewildered look on my face. But of course you weren’t with me so you’ll just have to take my word for it that I looked surprised and bewildered.

I got in touch with Marcel Rousseau, who volunteers at the Orillia museum, and right away he sent a couple of photos of a 1940 lacrosse game held at this old place that I had no idea existed, and he told me it was called Epletts Arena. Are you still awake?

Anyway, it’s not that big a deal for you but it sure is for me. I’m just curious why no one ever mentioned it. And one other curious thing – my dad says it was roofless, but it doesn’t look like it in the photos. Although it’s possible.

I’m hoping to know more about Epletts Arena and the hockey there. But it took me this long to realize there was even one in the first place.


10 thoughts on “What, There Was Another Arena?”

  1. Dennis, the only possible explanation for the roofed versus roofless dilemma is that Orillia was way ahead of its time. It built the world’s first arena with a retractable roof. The Skydome, the Igloo, bah, Epletts Arena had you both beat.

  2. Christopher, you have added another twist to the story. Of course it must have been retractable. Fans in the stands would get their fedoras wet when it rained if it stayed opened. Thank you.


  4. Thanks, Ron. I knew it was at that corner. I just know know why my dad said it didn’t have a roof.

  5. I think it is safe to say Ernie is older than the average old guy in the donut line. Correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe he remembers something the donut line dudes are to young to remember. It could have been an outdoor rink that gained a roof later on. Of course that is before the retractable roof was put on. I would love for Inspector Kane to get to the bottom of this. I am very interested in this topic.

  6. Hobo, that’s a good point. Ernie’s almost 92, and it’s very possible that the old place may have started as roofless. I’m really hoping the fellow at the Orillia museum is able to find more info. I also think it’s just weird that all my life it never occurred to me that there would be another arena.

  7. This is the first time it has been brought to my attention too. You would think with all the historical Orillia pictures laying around there would be something………. Was the Orillia team’s nickname the Terriers in the Epletts days? Maybe they were the Indians also. That could be the clue Frank.

  8. Hobo, before the Terriers were the Pontiacs. But I don’t know how far back the Pontiacs go. My dad couldn’t remember.

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