Written by Susan W. Smith
posted on October 13, 2018 12:30
If you google “Hockey and culture” in Canada you will find, ”Ice Hockey: A symbol of Canada, a national sport, and even a way of life.” It is true, Hockey is a Canadian National sport.
Finding a rink – inside or outside is one of the first questions a real estate agent may be asked when a family comes to town and luckily for the Town of Gananoque and those living in the Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands, which already has a popular indoor rink, this question will be answered with pride in the coming year. Gananoque has been awarded the distinction of being the final home for Canada 150’s iconic outdoor Ice Rink built on Parliament Hill in 2017.
The rink was built as part of the 150th celebrations of 1867 - the year the British colonies were united into one Dominion of Canada.
The idea to bring the Rink to Gananoque was originally suggested by the late Gordon Brown, the region’s Member of Parliament from 2004 until his untimely death in May 2018. At the time, Gord, as he was known, had stated that the Town would be honored and could easily justify being a recipient of the Rink, which comes complete with the boards, glass, benches, nets and scoreboard. But this would take a major financial commitment.
After the Canada 150 Rink was dismantled and put in storage, hockey groups from Eastern Canadian municipalities and First Nations within 200 kilometers of Ottawa, were formally asked for bids. Gananoque was just one community in the running.
Ironically, Gord died soon after returning to his office after an early morning hockey game with his hockey buddies in Ottawa. At the time he had already secured a $100,000 fund donated by the Thousand Islands Accommodation Partners, created in 2009 by nine local hotels. (Today, TIAP includes more major attractions including, GanBoatLine.com, 1000IslandsPlayhouse.com, Fly1000Islands.ca and1000IslandsKayaking.com.)
However, after Gord’s death, the River community embraced the idea that completing his project would be a fitting tribute to a man who had done so much for his constituency. Jeff Brown, Gord’s brother headed a new fund-raising campaign which has now raised an additional $100,000 from the Thousand Islands Community Futures Development Corporation and local residents have contributed private donations of another $50,000 coupled with GoFundMe.com/Help-Gord-Browns-Gan-Ice-Pad-Vision. Not sure how the bidding would go, the Town and Township were pleasantly surprised when, on Friday, September 21st, the Ottawa International Hockey Festival announced Gananoque’s bid was accepted and the River has won the Rink!
News articles explain that the new rink is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019 with the engineering studies and construction planning beginning first. The rink will be placed beside the indoor Lou Jefferies Rink at the east end of town. This will facilitate the use of Town equipment including the Zamboni machine and maintenance personnel.
In addition to the original donation, TIAP recently pledged $5,000 a year for five years to cover the first operating funds.
“We want to make sure,” said Jeff Brown emphatically, “that the Town of Gananoque and the Township taxpayers are not saddled with the cost of establishing this. We consider the almost year-round rink will be a unique tourist attraction for the region, so we have an aggressive fund-raising plan. The next event is a Gord Brown Memorial Hockey Game to be held on November 28that the Lou Jeffries Rink in Gananoque. This, we feel, will be a good start. Proceeds will be split between the rink and the United Way. “
Yes, Hockey may be a Canadian national sport, but skating on an outdoor rink – will become a unique and integral part of a Thousand Islands experience!
Connect to Global News to see the on-camera interview, September 22, 2019, Sharmeen Somani Reporter/Videographer
By Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life, firstname.lastname@example.org