Arena Name: Galt Arena Gardens Capacity: 1,100 Built: 1922 Last Game: 1955 Address: 98 Shade St., Galt (Cambridge), ON, N1R 4J8 Ice Surface Size: 200' X 80'
Galt Arena Gardens
What Was the Arena Like?
The Galt Arena Gardens is the oldest operating hockey arena in Ontario, having been built throughout 1921 and opening in January 1922. It was designed as the main arena for the town of Galt, which was later to be amalgamated with nearby Hespeler and Preston to become the city of Cambridge, which itself is now part of the Kitchener-Waterloo metropolitan area. The Arena Gardens sits in a run-down area of town surrounded by tiny houses on tree-lined streets. From the outside the building is one of the most gorgeous arenas you'll ever lay eyes upon, with an intricate brown brick facade. The building has a high barn-like roofline and heavy steel doors.
Once inside the Arena Gardens you walk upstairs to the main arena. The building is small, with only about six rows of red seats extending all the way around. There is a huge mural on one end of the building above the goal featuring Mr Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, who played briefly in Cambridge as a member of the 1944-45 Galt Red Wings. The next season Howe was up to the minor leagues in Omaha, and by 1946-47 he had embarked upon his career with the Detroit Red Wings. There are banners throughout the building from nearly a century of Cambridge hockey history, and there is a small Hall of Fame featuring photos and memorabilia.
Structurally the Arena Gardens is sound; the place was renovated in 1997. In fact, I was a bit disappointed that the building didn't "feel" as old as it is; the floors are new poured cement, the seats are new and plastic, and there are a lot of small details throughout the building that would not necessarily lead you to believe that the place is really that old. Still, there are some reminders - the ceiling is wood and features windows stretching from one end of the rink to the other.
While the Arena Gardens may not be the oldest-feeling or the most beautiful arena in Ontario - I'd give both titles to William Allman Arena in Stratford - it is a prime example of our hockey heritage, and a fine barn in itself. The Arena Gardens is a building that Galters can be proud of, and with its centenary fast approaching, one hopes they give the arena a proper celebration in 2022.
Inside Galt Arena Gardens
What's the Arena Used for Today?
The Arena Gardens is today used for community purposes and is also the home to the Midwestern Junior "B" Cambridge Redhawks.
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