Sports ‘n’ Things: Bickerton column rekindles fond memories

"The column provides a broad picture, but Art was far too humble about the events inaugurated by that committee of mostly Co-op riders."

Couldn’t let the Art Bickerton column rerun go by without comment.

I was somewhere else (Ottawa, I think) when it was originally published and appreciate seeing it reprinted now – just want to add some colour commentary, as it were.

The column provides a broad picture, but Art was far too humble about the events inaugurated by that committee of mostly Co-op riders.

Warfield Sports Day, always on and known of as well by Victoria Day, was almost magical for those of us who got to enjoy the results of the mostly Mickey Mouse builders – all newcomers to Warfield and mostly first or second generation Canadians – endeavours.

Included in the day, as well as the events enumerated by Art, were track events and novelty races (sack, three-legged, egg carry and the like) a packed bingo venue, trike races, a movie and a bonfire, all within the security of a very caring and attentive – sometimes, during our mischief periods, a little too attentive for our liking – community of adults, many of which included themselves in the fun they created.

All centered on the, “cinder rink,” between Kipling and Shakespeare streets, basically the Mickey Mouse play area. It’s still there, although not used for anything now that prosperity has lead our successive leaders to provide more formal venues.

It was, for decades, the go-to place for play, including ball and hockey and even figure skating (a fabulous rink was created every winter that dwarfed the downtown kids’ rink, had lights and a warming shack and hosted a winter carnival every year).

We knew, or our parents did, that it was slag, and made for very dirty fair weather play, but it was what we had and we used it well.

It was warming to see the few names in the list Art provided – which included my Dad, my uncle and his brother, local almost-icon Al Trozzo – who transferred the ice making skills he learned on the cinder rink to the Trail Curling Club, where he provided top notch surfaces for regular and some very large events – and many other neighbours who became adult-to-adult friends over the years.

There were other lasting effects, too. My dad, for instance, went from the cinder rink once a year to hosting/calling weekly bingo sessions in Warfied for more than four more decades.

Lots of names left out of the list, as Art mentioned, including the list of moms who backstopped it all and handled some of the on-site labour as well.

I am not sure how it was handled when World War Two got into full swing, as virtually everyone on Art’s list served, but in my childhood (Art’s daughter, the prize winner, and I are just weeks apart in age, so I won’t put a number on that) it was a large piece of the joy of the area to have that icebreaker event every spring.

The community cohesion the sports day created, emboldened in spirit by the success of attracting volunteers to the building of the Trail Memorial center, did indeed lead to the building (with the same large volunteer efforts) of the Warfield Hall, the center of community for what was then just a subdivision and has grown into a proudly independent Village.

Memories like that, and the spirit of neighbourhood co-operation that such events fostered, are what lead me to often say Warfield may have been the best place for anyone to grow up.

**************

Ball at Butler this weekend, and good weather for it is supposed. Looking forward to it.

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