Read the history, hear the stories and see the photos…
The following story is the history of North River Rink which Ronnie MacKinley presented to an audience of almost 100 at the Clyde River History lectures on February 20th. To listen to Ronnie’s full presentation which includes many stories, you can link here. The recording also features Neil Shaw who, along with a group of businessmen, managed the rink after Hollis Corney. Sterling MacRae added a few stories of his years of hockey at the rink.
Many of the alumni players attended this Clyde River lecture and they brought along memorabilia and photos which we scanned and collected on this site. Just click on the album cover photo and you can advance through the extensive collection. Many of the people are identified in the photos, but for those that are not, we welcome you to add comments to let us know who you recognize. If you have any other photos that you wish to add to the album, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on photo to see the full album of photos and memorabilia.
North River Rink:
During the 1940s, the North River area was lacking an ice rink. There was a converted factory in Cornwall that served as a rink but it has fallen into disrepair and an outdoor rink was constructed. Fultie Warren, a local farmer and businessman, felt that an outdoor rink was not reliable to promote quality hockey, so in 1948, he and Bruce MacKinley decided to build a rink in North River to serve this and all surrounding communities.
Fultie, his father and brother operated a sawmill in Warren Grove and just needed a large stand of trees to provide adequate lumber for the truss rafters. With the help of Paddy McGee, they found a tree lot in Emyvale and Fultie signed a contract on a stump to cut four acres. The cost was $270.
In the winter of 1948-49, Fultie hired group of 30-40 men to cut the lumber, haul it out through John Cusack’s field and pile it on John F. McQuaid’s property. In the Summer of 1949, the lumber was moved to the mill for sawing and then over to the construction site.
They decided to build the rink on the corner of Bruce MacKinley’s farm at the corner of what is now the Trans Canada Highway and York Point Road. Heber Campbell took the job as main carpenter and a crew of over 30 men worked on the site during the fall of 1949. The men cutting the lumber and constructing the rink were paid either 50 cents an hour or they took shares in the rink at $10/share. Fultie kept track of all the hours from the woods to the sawmill to the rink to make sure all the men were fairly paid.
When it was time to install the truss rafters, they hired Douglas Bros. & Jones who had the equipment to lift the huge rafters into position. Apparently, the process was rushed and no one on the site had worked with such huge rafters. Just as the workers were about to stop work one evening, eleven rafters came crashing down. It was a miracle no one was badly injured.
When the roof was finally completed in early January, Fultie and his crew had to wait for cold weather before they could flood the rink. They were having a mild winter and it was impossible to level the ice surface due to mud. On January 8th, the temperature took a sharp drop, and Fultie flooded the ice surface with a foot of water before he had it level. The following night, on January 9th, the North River Rink opened for business. For the next 22 years, Fultie and Bruce spent many cold hours operating the rink.
Maintaining the rink was intense and cold work. They were kept busy into the wee hours. In the beginning, they pumped water from a pond on the MacKinley’s farm, located north of the rink. However, when the Trans Canada highway was constructed between the rink and the pond, they drilled two wells to supply the rink. The owners not only had to maintain the ice, but they had to operate the ticket box and canteen.
North River rink was open six days a week and closed on Sunday. The hockey season ran from December until May. Besides running the rink and counting money until the wee hours of the morning, Fultie had a dairy farm to manage and he was president of the “C” league where he helped to organize the “school league” minor hockey program.
The revenue generated from the rink was shared between the teams and owners on a percentage basis. All the profits either flowed back into the operation or paid out in dividends to the shareholders. Fultie said his only pay cheque from the rink was during the last year; it was $100.
After 22 years of managing all hockey activities at North River Rink, the owners decided to sell the rink to the local communities. When the deal fell through, they sold the property to a Hollis Corney, a shoe retailer and entrepreneur. Hollis controlled all aspects of the business. He was a familiar figure with his long coat and overshoes. He took money at the door, worked in the canteen, and drove the zamboni.
Hollis modernized the rink by installing artificial ice. He brought in the first zamboni to PEI. By 1975, there was seating for 1400. Ronnie recalled during the early days before the expansion, there would be more than that watching a game in the small rink and he can’t imagine how they all fit inside. The farmers would stop grading potatoes to take in the game.
Hollis rented out the ice for $22/hour and was busy as the only other rinks in the area were UPEI and the Forum in Charlottetown. As well as minor hockey, Hollis hosted High School hockey. The Kennedy’s – Forbie, Jamie and Jake – offered a hockey school program each Spring. Hollis introduced Junior Hockey and for several years, the Junior North Stars were a powerhouse and fan favourite, packing the rink.
Hollis also hosted skating events for the general public and local schools. In the off season, he organized roller skating. Later he held wrestling matches.
After running the rink for thirteen years, Hollis leased the rink to Virgo Enterprises a community business group. Neil Shaw told the story of when they took over the rink.
- Listen to the presentation featuring Ronnie MacKinley, Neil Shaw and Sterling MacRae, click here
- View the photo album featuring photos and memorabilia, click here
We would like to make a list of all the teams that played at North River Rink. We will begin a partial list below, but we want to hear from you to help us complete the list. Also, send any photos you have. Please email email@example.com.
- Milton Hornets
- Kingston Crystals
- Fairview Aces
- Nine Mile Creek Bulldogs
- Hampshire Bulldogs
- Clow’s Red & White
- Sanderson’s Sabres
- Bonnie Brae Chargers
- North Stars
- Bluefield Bobcats
- Island Sandblasting – Green Machine
- Dunstaffnage Comets
- Dollar Home Improvement Flames
- Island Excavators Minor Junior Team
- Dutch Inn Senior League
We welcome you to leave comments below of your memories of North River Rink.
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