Workers were busy dressing up the entrance to the Trail Memorial Centre this week as the city prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary on November 30. (Guy Bertrand photo)

Iconic Trail arena gets fresh look ahead of 70th birthday party

First puck dropped in the Cominco Arena at 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 29, 1949

There’s a shroud of mystery hanging in the Trail Memorial Centre.

Workers have quietly made changes inside the front corridor this past week, as the city readies to pay tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Trail Memorial Centre, or “TMC” for short.

The new artwork will remain under wraps until an unveiling at month-end. Without giving too much away, however, the city’s Sarah Benson-Lord gave the Trail Times a few hints as to what everyone can expect to see when the mural is revealed for the first time on Nov. 30.

The 70th anniversary, which actually falls on Nov. 29, will be commemorated the following night at the Trail Smoke Eaters home game against the Surrey Eagles, she began.

“To mark the occasion, the city will reveal the enhanced main entrance,” Benson-Lord shared. “People can expect to see imagery that reflects the Trail Memorial Centre over the last 70 years, and a new logo to brand the facility.”

As well, there will be a small giveaway for the first 750 fans, and she says recognition will be paid to key people who have put Trail and its iconic arena facility on the map.

“The Smoke Eaters will have a great lineup of fun for the fans, and Trail Transit will be there for the annual Stuff the Bus food drive,” Benson-Lord continued.

“The film crew working on the Trail Smoke Eaters ‘39 and ‘61 documentary, scheduled to come out next year, will be at the game to shoot some footage,” she said.

“So let’s get as many Trail fans to this game as possible!”

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For the little ones, the Trail and District Public Library is hosting Story Time with the Smoke Eaters on Nov. 29 at 10 a.m., in the Riverfront Centre.

Children can visit with members of the team, get a signed hockey card from the players, and meet Smokies mascot, Stax.

Behind the scenes, the city has been focused on this milestone celebration for several months.

“We can’t overstate enough how central this facility to is to our city,” said Benson-Lord. “From sports to music, dance to fitness, banquets, elections, galas and festivals, there isn’t a person in the city who hasn’t visited the Trail Memorial Centre for one reason or another. TMC staff and the City of Trail have invested not only money, but also personal pride for a building renowned Canada-wide,” she added.

“It’s one of the most important hubs in our community. To be in the condition it’s in after 70 years, is proof of its value to the community. We hope it lasts another 70 years.”

A copy of the souvenir booklet from the Tuesday, Nov. 29, 1949 opening of what was then the Cominco Arena, is a special keepsake given to the Trail Times by Bill Trewhella many years ago.

The booklet was published by Trail Senior Hockey, and includes the Smoke Eaters lineup from coach M. Buckna and trainer J. Decembrini for the night, as well as the lineup of their competitors, the Kimberley Dynamiters.

Prior to the big game that opening night 70 years ago, was music by the Canadian Legion Band, the Maple Leaf Band, and a parade by the Trail Highland Pipe Band. After a display from the Trail Skating Club, the opening ceremony commenced with the singing of ‘O Canada’ and a presentation by Mr. R.W. Diamond on behalf of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada.

The first official puck drop came at 8:20 p.m.

The program includes messages from local leaders, such as Mayor George Fletcher and Gerry Thompson, president of the Trail Athletic Association.

“Cominco has made an outstanding contribution to the residents of Trail and district in the gift of the Cominco Arena to the city. The facilities so afforded should adequately serve the needs of the community for years to come,” Fletcher wrote. “As Mayor, I wish to extend the sincere appreciation and grateful thanks of the residents of Trail and district to Mr. Diamond and Cominco for the magnificent gift. We in turn will show our appreciation in many way as the chance affords. I would also say a word of praise to Northern Construction for the very able manner in which they have carried out the construction work.”

Gerry Thompson wrote, “The opening of the new Cominco Arena marks an occasion for which we have all waited a long time. It is the culmination of a long series of plans, effort and hopes which have now become a reality. With a growing community such as ours, modern facilities are of prime importance.”



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

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