KERROBERT — Three quarters of a century, that’s how long the Kerrobert arena has served as the hub of the community.
Kerrobert’s arena had its share of challenges but also some terrific tales of community members who took on the task of ensuring there would be a rink in town, knowing that a recreation venue like this served many purposes and united residents in a number of activities, mostly in the winter, but also other seasons too.
The first rink in Kerrobert was built in 1910 and used by citizens until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1919. Wikipedia reports that one man was killed as a result of flying metal from the storm. That wasn’t the first tragedy. The first curling and skating rink in Kerrobert was located at the corner of Manitoba Avenue and Usher Steet, but was destroyed by fire in November of 1946.
Recreation Director Bobbi Hebron has provided some historic details. As a result of a January 1947 motion made by W. Herity and seconded by C. Angus, a company was formed, Kerrobert Memorial Recreations Ltd., and they capitalized $50,000. Two thousand interest bearing shares were then sold at $25 per share, with the purpose to establish a new recreation centre.
March 14, 1947, the committee made the decision to purchase an airplane hangar from the Provincial Reconstruction Department. The task of dismantling the structure then moving it to be rebuilt in Kerrobert cost $6,500.
Another committee meeting resulted in a proposal by W. Herity, seconded by Roy Greeg that K. Petersen be hired at a salary of $300 a month for duties such as supervising the dismantling, transportation and reassembling of the building in Kerrobert.
A town meeting involving citizens was held in February of 1947 to discuss methods of fundraising to complete the project. Fr. Walliser presented a fundraising idea that he felt had the potential to raise $20,000 in one month, needing the support of the Kerrobert Citizen and surrounding district. A motion was made to adopt the plan and it was carried.
After numerous hours of volunteer labour and many trips back and forth, the community of Kerrobert was excited to see the new building assembled. It was finished Nov. 11, 1947, and was first opened for public skating and curling on Christmas Day.
The new rink offered a skating rink surface and three curling sheets, operated with natural ice until 1961, at which time four sheets of artificial ice was installed. The compressor was converted to natural gas until sometime in the late 1970s, and from there was converted to electricity and it has operated that way ever since.
Kerrobert’s arena history has many stories that are part of its legacy.
There are numerous stories from the years of senior hockey that include the Kerrobert Tigers, which outline the team winning the Saskatchewan and intermediate championships in the 1930s. There was a junior team also in the 1930s that competed in Saskatchewan junior playoffs. 2000 and 2001, the senior Tigers won the league championship.
A recent story of a man who grew up skating and growing a love for hockey at Kerrobert arena SHOF induction includes Kerrobert born, Curtis Murphy - SaskToday.ca includes former resident Curtis Murphy.
The curling rink side also has success stories, most of which include the family name Heidt. Brad Heidt, twice earned a spot as Team Saskatchewan at the Canadian Brier. Heidt first qualified in 1982, 40 years ago and again in 1995 where he won his way to the final losing to Manitoba’s Kerry Burtnyk. Heidt has curled competitively in men’s, mixed, seniors’ and masters’ and has a number of Team Sask. green jackets earned. Brad’s boys also are well-known in curling circles and the arena includes a number of championship banners with their names on them, as well as curling tour success stories.
The arena offers many benefits to a town that include promoting exercise through ice activity programs. A community arena also offers economic spinoffs as tournaments, games and events there bring people into town that support the food, fuel and hospitality industry. It also offers the community’s youth a place to stay safe, have fun and keep busy.
Residents also attest to the unification factor as in small town with limited activity taking place it offers a place to gather, to connect with other community members, especially during the winter months, and sports brings out the best in hometown pride.
Hebron says they will be holding some style of milestone anniversary celebrations in honour of the rink’s 75-year history. The event is tentatively set for Dec. 17 however not all details have been finalized but residents should watch for details in the coming days to join in celebrations for this diamond anniversary of the hub of activity in the community.