Situated at the corner of Denman and Georgia Streets in Vancouver, sitting on the shore of Coal Harbour, the Denman Arena was once the largest in the world. Built in 1911 by Frank and Lester Patrick at a cost of $300,000 it was the main venue for their newly formed Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Until the Montreal Forum was built in 1926, it was the largest artificial ice arena in the world seating 10,500.
Constructed of wood and brick, the large brick facing led Vancouverites to refer to it as The Pile. The Patrick brothers simultaneously built the 3,500 seat Patrick Arena in Victoria to help house their three team league which also included New Westminster. They would proceed to raid the established National Hockey Association of much of it’s top talent to stock their teams.
The Pile would host the Vancouver Millionaires Stanley Cup championship in March, 1915, boxing matches featuring Max Baer and “Cinderella Man” James Braddock, movie star Rudolph Valentino as well as bicycle races and tennis matches. The Patricks, being innovators of the game of hockey would introduce many of the games’ great changes. It was the arena that had the first blueline in hockey history, the first goal crease and where forward passing was first tested.
It was mere hours after a full house had attended a boxing match on Aug 20, 1936 that the Denman Arena would be reduced to ashes. The fire may have started in a nearby coal shed, and would cause $600,000 in damage but thankfully no deaths. Today, there is no remnant or marker at the site of The Pile.