The Johnny Leroux Stittsville Community Arena turns 45 years old this month.
The first skate was on the evening of January 16, 1971, the result of a massive community effort to raise funds and literally raise the building itself. Stittsville’s first indoor arena was financed entirely by the community, with no help from the municipality. Barbara Bottriell tells the story of the rink in her book Stittsville: A Sense of Place:
“…in the Fall of Centennial year, a group of adult hockey players got together and decided that Stittsville needed an arena and that they were going to build one themselves. They acquired a piece of land beside Alexander Grove sometime during the winter of 1968, and began their fundraising activities in the Spring.”
By the end of 1968 they had raised $25,000 and volunteers went to work clearing the land with chainsaws, dropping by after work or on weekends.
“The cleared the land, stumped it, put in the footings and four feet of crushed stone before the contractor started in 1970. The contractor framed the building and put the roof and then the volunteers began their work again, putting up the siding on the outside and the cement blocks inside. They put polyethtylene over the crushed stone and flooded the surface, even working on Christmas Eve to prepare the ice surface for the new year.”
On January 16, 1971, the committee members – including Ian Colpitts and Sterling Warner – went for a skate on the new ice, but aside from the rink, four walls and a roof, there wasn’t much more to the arena. There was no seating and only temporary dressing rooms. Fundraising continued while they finished the building. (Warner died in 2000; Colpitts died in 2012.)
Tens of thousands of dollars were raised by a variety of individuals and community groups over several years as the building continued to be developed. (John Curry wrote a detailed summary of fundraising efforts and arena costs in the Stittsville News a few years back.)
The building was named after Johnny Leroux in 2011. Leroux has been involved in local sports for years, including as a coach and referee for local hockey and baseball teams. He continues to be an active member of the Stittsville Legion and can often be seen in the stands at the arena that bears his name.
Photographer Barry Gray dropped by recently to snap some photos of the old barn.
We’d love to hear from our readers: Were you part of the fundraising and efforts to build the rink? Do you have any favourite memories from playing hockey there? Add a comment below or send us a link at firstname.lastname@example.org
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