(Trail Times file photo)

(Trail Times file photo)

Trail Memorial Centre, a good reason to celebrate

The quality of the building was a testament to many things Cominco (CMS, locally, at the time).

When it first opened, the crowd was 4,551. Not likely the Fire Marshall will allow that many tomorrow night, but with only one game on tap this weekend, a sellout at least nearing 3,000 might be in attendance for the 70th Cominco Arena anniversary celebration, and Smokies/Surrey Eagles BCHL game.

The anniversary date is actually tonight (Nov. 29, 1949 was opening night).

When, two years later, the Trail Memorial Center was fully operational – with the curling rink and kids’ rink running – the building was a world beater. There was more artificial ice under that massive roof than in any building in the world.

It wasn’t until the North Shore Winter Club opened with two near-NHL sized hockey sheets and 24 sheets of curling ice, that the capacity of Trail’s gem of an indoor winter sports building was exceeded.

The quality of the building was a testament to many things Cominco (CM&S, locally, at the time). The Hill provided enough decent paying jobs back then that Greater Trail residents enjoyed the highest annual average income in Canada for several years, and the company’s largesse enabled big projects like the arena complex, and the hospital which was just about to break ground in its current location when the Memorial Centre opened, to be considered as viable additions to the public facilities of this relatively small population region.

In the Cominco Arena case, design and logistical planning, the property, materials and machinery were all CM&S supplied. More than a thousand locals, from teenagers to fully employed adults to seniors, volunteered to perform much of the labour involved.

It was a project that did, and does, the Home of Champions proud. The Trail Memorial Centre is still, because of a commitment from stakeholders that has lasted seven decades, something of a miracle sitting in the middle of a relatively small community.

We should, and a lot of us will tomorrow night, celebrate its existence and the near miracles of athletic performance it has enabled since that night in 1949.

The late R. W. Diamond, then General Manager of Cominco Ltd., pronounced the building as, “a fine arena.” It seems certain he would be pleased, if maybe a bit amazed, that that description is still valid seven decades down the road of progress.

• Just an update. Although the five Smoke Eaters selected for the Junior A Challenge tournament are expected in Calgary by noon Sunday, I am told all will be skating for the Smoke Eaters against Surrey Saturday night. The team will find a way to get them to the dance on time, even if a bit weary.

Whomever is chosen for the Team Canada West roster will be unavailable to the Smokies during their mainland road trip next weekend, but everybody agrees that is a small price for the team to pay in order that those selected get the chance to compete, and be seen competing, at the very top level of Junior A play.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

The Skinny Genes Foundation is raising awareness and funds for a rare genetic disorder that claimed both his father and uncle.
NHL players, local businesses help Kootenay man raise funds and awareness for rare genetic disease

Signed NHL jerseys and local business donations up for auction in Skinny Genes Foundation fundraiser

The Columbia Basin Trust has announced grants for biodiversity initiatives. Photo: Submitted
Columbia Basin Trust announces ecosystem protection grants

Three projects are sharing a $1.35-million grant

Remi Drolet
Rossland skier competes at World Nordic ski championship

Remi Drolet was selected to Team Canada and will race at the 2021 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships

good lookin
West Kootenay pet shop owner petitions for end to pet mills

“Our companion animal laws are pretty lax right now, we need to bring more awareness to help SPCA”

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read