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Toronto Rink History

Here's a bit of history from the City's Archives. Check out the pictures.

Exerpts from City Archives

Here is some historical material about Toronto's Artificial Ice Rinks (AIRs), taken from city archive and newspaper sources.

posted September 28, 2004

1941 Feb.5 Notification of rough conduct at Beresford Skating rink by Alderman Roelofson. Says boys are bothering girls by tripping, pushing, pulling off of mats, and snow balling. One of the alderman's girls suffered a broken collar bone. Complaint of not enough discipline on the part of the staff. Feb.17 Complaint brought before the Committee of Parks and Exhibitions. Response: providing adequate supervision would cost twice as much as currently and staff are for maintenance and not for supervision. Alderman decide that "a community cooperative scheme be formulated to prevent vandalism and rowdyism." Feb.23 message from Beresford rink that there is no problem at the rink and the incident took place off the rink. 1944: report of refusal of skaters to leave ice for cleaning. Police called and two boys arrested after "trouble" between them and the police. Jan.18 1945: Report of "rowdyism" at Riverdale rink. Request for police supervision for afternoons and evenings. Jan.29 Due to shortage of officers no permanent patrol is possible but periodic patrols have been ordered.

In 1955 the city ran six permanent AIRs (High Park, Earlscourt, Alexandra, Greenwood, Eglinton, and Dufferin) and 4 portable AIRs (?) (Rosedale, Ramsden, Queen Alexandra School, and Kew). Average annual cost of portable AIR was $4000, permanent was $5000. They charged kids 15 cents to skate in 1954 (adults 25 cents), upped that by 20 cents (adults by 35 cents) in 1955. Increased permit fees for adults too (hockey from $5 an hour in the evenings to $10). That way they increased their income by $31,222. Attendance at Dufferin grove A.I.R. Sunday Dec.11 1955: 800. (High Park, Eglinton and Earlscourt were higher at 962, 958, and 861). January attendance a bit lower. There was a request to provide concessions at Earlscourt and Dufferin rinks: denied.

Toronto Star editorial Jan3 1958: "If Sardines Skated They'd Choose Toronto."

"Skating is not much fun when people have to wait in line outside for half an hour or more, and then go on an intolerably crowded ice surface…It is true that the parks department operates 58 natural ice rinks for skating and 23 for hockey - or will do so, if and when there is enough frost. For all the freezing weather we get here most winters, the department might as well spare the trouble and expense, and get on with the job of multiplying the number of artificial ice rinks."

Globe and Mail editorial, Jan.10 1958:

"Outdoor rinks need $525,000 rebuilding." The article reports that 8 of the 10 Toronto A.I.R.s need $525,000 improvement because they were "not properly constructed." Dufferin Grove and Earslcourt are exceptions because they were built recently. Alderman Orliffe says the cost of the improvement will eliminate any chance of building new A.I.R.s

1963: letter from George Bell to A.Lacey, Chairman, Department of Labour, March 20, 1963.

"again this year it has been impossible to rigidly adhere to the regulations set forth in the Operating Engineers Act with respect to certified operators. If it were not for a nucleus of men with certificates and some excellent trainees this Department would have to restrict the continuous operation of the Artificial Ice Rinks.

"During the four month period of operation the Department had a turn-over of approximately 81 men to operate thirteen rinks. 29 of these left before the completion of the season, 11 of whom were discharged for various misdemeanors. In addition there were seven men retained who under normal conditions would have been discharged, as unsatisfactory references were received from their previous employers. In general the certificated men who are hired for seasonal employment…are poorly qualified for the operation of refrigeration equipment and irresponsible. Their misbehaviour and unreliability disrupts shifts and this Department must go to considerable expense to cover these shifts with other men at overtime rates. On several occasions I have registered my displeasure with the practice of allowing certified engineers to do from job to job being discharged for drunkenness, irresponsibility and failing to report without some disciplinary action being taken by the Department of Labour with regards to suspension of their certificates."

A.I.R.'s: 1978 the city has 21, and was a pioneer in building them. Lists 11 built in the 50's (many right after the war - Dufferin in 1955) and 6 in the 60's. "With the exception of City Hall rink, which commences operation on the last Saturday of October and carries on until April, the artificial ice rinks are operated from November 15 until the first Sunday in March." Hours are 9 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. except 10 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. Sundays.

Old Skating and Sledding Pictures

Christie Pits in 1923: five rinks! (Toronto Archives).
Click on picture to enlarge.

Withrow Park Ice hockey 1923- Toronto Archives

Withrow Park Bobsled run, 1914- Toronto Archives
Click on picture to enlarge it.

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Content last modified on September 08, 2010, at 04:24 PM EST