About 1947, just after the war, some of the younger folks in Elgin convinced a few older ones that we needed a nice outdoor rink on which to play. As luck would have it, plans were soon developed and the project underway.
At that time, there were no TV sets to occupy our time and the smartphone hadn’t been invented. Most of our spare time was spent in activities like coasting and plying our skis on the abundant hills in our area. The new rink gave us a comfortable place to play hockey or just skate to music. Soon, teams of hockey players from other villages arrived for games and we all know how competition fires up youngsters. For the senior crowd, skating to music was popular.
I can still recall the high piles of snow that chose to fall on our play surface. Snow blowers were not in vogue, but a timeless old instrument called a snow shovel was the best means of dealing with snow. I can recall reporting for work early Saturday mornings to share the joy of piling snow up over the boards with great haste so we would be ready for the afternoon juniors’ hockey game and the Saturday night games for the older crowd. One winter there was such a large amount of snow that the banks surrounding the rink reached several feet above the boards. This made the rescue of errant pucks almost impossible until spring!
Today, it is hard to imagine the many hours of labour that went into the care of the old rink. I cannot recall anyone ever complaining about it. If I ask anyone who experienced it, they always dwell on the fun and friendships that prevailed. On one or two winters, hot water was hauled from the school nearby for the Elgin version of the Zamboni.
After several years of operation, someone wiser than the rest came to the conclusion that water pumped up to the top of a hill had a nasty habit of returning to its source. Plans were made to move the rink to the property down by the old racetrack that usually flooded in the fall. That was a great improvement and made life a bit easier. Also, by then, the rink was well established as a center of the community. Younger hockey players had come on board and we had improved our performance to the point where we even managed to win the odd game! About this time, I became a working man so my career as a hockey player was pretty well over. However, many of the younger boys went on to become very capable players and enjoyed short careers in higher leagues in Sussex, etc.
About the same time as our rink operated, similar rinks were set up in other communities. Petitcodiac established a rink where the Kiwanis building now sits. Teams from Edgetts Landing, Alma and Salisbury were frequent visitors to our rink and great memories remain of our hockey battles. The local team was aptly named the Elgin Aces. If you grew up in the Elgin area, you are probably familiar with some of the lore from the old rink. I sometimes ponder whether the current generation would care to forego their new heated rink for a place like our old rink. I know it is great to enjoy all the new facilities but I always return to the thoughts of all the fun we had on the old Elgin rink!
Not too many of the old boys who shared the fun of those days are left to remember all our great moments but I still remember them well. Lifelong friendships began there. In my idle moments, I sometimes reflect on an event or an individual and it always brings a smile to my face. I know those days are long gone now but I still think we could learn some valuable lessons about life if we could bring back some of the old ways and learn to enjoy the simpler things in life.
p.s. I know many pictures still exist of the old rink and I think it would be nice to amalgamate them into one book. Anyone interested? LG