Thursday, December 22, 2011

Denman Arena, 100th Anniversary

This past Tuesday (Dec. 20) marked the exact 100th anniversary of the opening in Vancouver of the second largest indoor arena in North America. Sadly, only the most minimal of mention was made of it in the local news. The Vancouver Sun had a small blurb about it in it's "This Day in History" column.

I have been high-lighting this old barn over the last couple of years (see links below), so I may as well finish up with a nod to the century anniversary. Perhaps the lack of reknown for the Denman Arena stems from the fact that it stood for only 25 years, as it burned down in 1936. Even still, the city of Vancouver really should have acknowledged it's opening this week.

Pictured at the top is the survey map showing the exact location of the building that is found in
the great book "Coast to Coast" by John Chi-Wit Wong. In it, he quotes the Vancouver Sun describing the opening day so many years ago.

"The Vancouver arena was a marvel of it's time and would probably be approved by those who compared the city to other major metropolises. It was the second largest indoor arena in North America, only New York's Madison Square Garden being bigger. Initially estimated at $175,000, it's final cost grew to $226, 382. It had an ice surface measuring 210 feet by 85 feet, which makes it five feet longer than the Montreal Arena. The building will seat over 10,000 spectators, every one of whom, owing to the admirable arrangement of the seats will have a perfect view of the play." Wong adds, "Not without a sense of civic pride, the Vancouver Province noted also that the new Toronto Mutual Street arena 'seats only 6,000'. Fifteen hundred people flocked to the grand opening of the new arena on 20 December for public skating. Even though the temperature was mild and it was raining outside, the arena's ice surface did not turn into puddles of water, usually a feature of natural ice arenas throughout the country under similar conditions."

It would appear that Vancouverites and the press of the day were extremely proud of their new arena, with good reason. The one thing that I wonder about is where 1,500 people found skates for public skating 100 years ago. Vancouver was and is a city with a fairly temperate climate and folks would really have little need for ice skates before the advent of an artificial ice sheet. I imagine that was part of Frank and Lester Patrick's grand plan, skate rentals.

1 comment:

B said...

There are lots of photos of people skating on Lost Lagoon and Trout Lake from the 1890's to 1920's in the Vancouver Archives.

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