or, "Wait, Ingersoll had a team?"
330 West St. Brantford, Ontario
Home of the Brantford Lions
The Arctic Ice Company once had a factory at 300 West St. in Brantford, and the factory owner, A.E. Cooper, hired architect Frederick C. Bodley to design a 4,000-seat indoor arena next door, for which the Arctic Ice Company naturally would supply the ice. Arctic Arena, which opened in 1926, served Brantford as a privately-owned facility for thirty-four years. In 1960, decades of poor maintenance of the arena resulted in the building being condemned as unsafe! However, with no other indoor ice surface in town, the city was forced to buy the building, repairing the old rink and pressing it back into service while two new arenas were waiting be opened with Centennial Project money from the federal government. The Brantford Civic Centre and North Park Arena both opened in 1967, and Arctic Arena staggered along through the 1967-68 hockey season before being demolished shortly after the conclusion of that winter. Today a strip plaza occupies the arena site, while the former factory grounds are covered by a residential subdivision.
Cambridge Ice Palace, aka Mason's Arena
10 Paisley Rd. Guelph, Ontario
Home of the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters
The Cambridge Ice Palace, also known as Mason's Arena after its owner, was home to the original Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters. The name of the building was slightly odd for an arena not located in Cambridge, but the name came from Cambridge St., which used to run along the arena's flank to Paisley Road. Cambridge St. was closed between Paisley and Dublin when Central Public School was built over the former roadway. Guelph Memorial Gardens opened as a publicly-owned arena to replace the privately-held old Ice Palace in 1948, but the building, incredibly, still stands. Today it exists as "The Shops at Paisley", which consists of an organic grocery store, a toy store, and a book store. Disappointingly, the grocery store has a low acoustic tile drop ceiling, so if there's any sign of the original arena hiding up in the rafters, it's not publicly visible.
Charles St. Arena
45 Charles St. E. Ingersoll, Ontario
Home of the Ingersoll Hockey Club
Burned Down 1955
Tiny Ingersoll had a junior A team for only one season, 1933-34. The team played at the Charles Street Arena, which opened in 1912 and burned down on December 10, 1955. The arena was located on the northeast corner of Charles Street at Mill St, the latter of which used to extend one block further north to St. Andrew along the arena's flank. On the site of the arena, there stands today a dental office and a day spa.
Berlin Auditorium, aka Queen St. Auditorium
77 Queen St. S. Kitchener, Ontario
Home of the Kitchener Greenshirts
Burned Down 1948
The Berlin Auditorium was an 8,000 seat arena which opened all the way back in 1904. It served the city as both hockey arena and concert venue diligently for nearly fifty years. On January 10, 1948, the building burned down in a fire later traced to a carelessly disposed-of cigarette following a concert by the Johnny Downs Orchestra, and by the time the fire was extinguished, the arena was flattened. A three-storey brick facade that acted as entryway to the arena as well as being home to many small local businesses survived, but with so much fire damage that the entire thing was demolished. The vacant land was used as a parking lot by the city until 1960, when Charles St. was extended westward (it used to dead-end at Queen St.) Today, the site is occupied by Charles St., a light rail station, and an incongruously modernist shopping plaza. Kitchener Memorial Auditorium was built in 1951 in direct response to the fire that destroyed the previous Aud.
65 Bathurst St. London, Ontario
Home of the London Hockey Club
London Arena opened in December 1923 and was London's first artificial indoor ice arena and the second in total, replacing the 1890's-vintage Princess Rink at 305 Queens Ave. (later the site of London Public Library's Central Branch). In a major junior sense, the building was only used for one season, in 1933-34, at which point London went back to Junior B, and the city began a thirty-one year wait for the return of the top level of junior hockey. The arena was the main home of hockey in London until 1963, when the London Gardens opened on the southern fringe of the city. Once London Gardens opened, London Arena was converted into a concert and roller-skating rink, and remained open until 1977, at which point the Silverwood Dairy next door bought the land to expand its parking lot. In the 1990's, the old dairy was demolished, and a new one built partially over the old arena footprint. It's currently operated by the Italian dairy conglomerate Parmalat. The foundation of the arena was never demolished, just paved over, and consequently it is still visible to this day. You can see it emerging from the slight grassy slope on the east side of Ridout Street.
Victoria Avenue Arena
5851 Victoria Ave. Niagara Falls, Ontario
Home of the Niagara Falls Hockey Club
In the historic OHA standings from before the war, the city of Niagara Falls only appears once. A Niagara Falls team apparently contested the 1935-36 season, and while even the team's nickname is unknown to us, the only suitable arena in the city at that time was the 4,000 seat Victoria Avenue Arena. The Niagara Falls Memorial Arena opened in 1950, and by 1958 the Victoria Avenue Arena had been sold to the Canadian Army for use as an Army Reserve training centre. It had been renamed at that point to the General Brock Armouries. The building was demolished in 1961, and the next year a motel, called the Imperial, had opened on site. The old Imperial Motel was replaced by a new one in 1989, and today it is called the Vittoria Inn & Suites. The arena site is now in the middle of a heavily touristed strip at the top of Clifton Hill, surrounded by cheap souvenir stores and fast food joints. It's nearly inconceivable that a hockey arena ever stood on such a site.
51 William St. Paris, Ontario
Home of the Paris Hockey Club
You'd never know it from the 1970's facade, but Paris Arena, now known as the Syl Apps Community Centre, is one of the oldest in Ontario. Paris only had major junior hockey for one season, 1933-34, but the arena is still going strong as it approaches its centenary. The arena hasn't had ice in it since 2009, but it is still open as an indoor soccer and lacrosse facility, with permanent astroturf on the arena floor. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the arena's doors to the public since March 2020, but I will get back for an interior shot once it reopens.
Port Colborne Athletic Club
503 Elm St., Port Colborne, Ontario
Home of the Port Colborne Recreationists
Demolished Unknown (Between 1967-70)
The northeast corner of Elm and Killaly Streets in Port Colborne had hockey arenas on the site as far back as 1898, but previous buildings burned down (1909) and suffered a roof collapse under heavy snow load (1927). The third Port Colborne Athletic Club was a 2,200 seat arena that opened in 1932, and was home to Port Colborne teams in the OHA for three separate seasons - 1935-36, 1943-44 and 1944-45. The privately-owned arena was replaced by the publicly-funded Humberstone Arena in 1960, and the Athletic Club closed at that time. As of 1964 the building was being used to store used cars, and according to researchers at the Port Colborne Historical & Marine Museum, the Athletic Club was demolished "sometime between 1967 and 1970." The site today is occupied by three-storey walk-up apartments and the parking lot of the Port Colborne Animal Hospital, which itself stands in what was once the arena's parking lot. The above historic photo is courtesy of the Port Colborne Historical & Marine Museum and is used with permission.
299 Bloor St. W. Toronto, Ontario
Home of the University of Toronto
The only arena on this list still open and hosting hockey, Varsity Arena was then, and still is, home to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues hockey teams. The weird bit is that a university ever played junior hockey in the first place, but hey, it was a different time. Varsity Arena is gorgeous, a red brick building in the heart of U of T's downtown campus, and well worth checking out if you're ever in the area.
In digging up photos for this profile, I realized that a) I haven't been to Varsity Arena since 2006 and don't remember enough about it to write about, and b) I was there after dark and never took exterior photos. Maybe someday the pandemic will end and I'll get back up to Bloor West and Bedford.
Mutual Street Arena
60 Mutual St. Toronto, Ontario
Home of the West Toronto Nationals
Mutual Street Arena was the first artificial indoor ice arena in Ontario, built in 1912 under the name "Arena Gardens". It hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs and their forerunner teams through the 1910's and 1920's, but with a mere 8,000 capacity, the arena couldn't compete with newer, much larger arenas in the other five NHL cities, and so Conn Smythe built Maple Leaf Gardens a few blocks away. Redundant a mere twenty years after opening, the building nonetheless chugged along as a concert, trade show, boxing, curling and roller skating venue, hoovering up any events that either couldn't sell out or afford the larger arena. The arena finally was demolished in April 1989, and a public park was built on site. In 2011, the park was renamed Arena Gardens after the long-gone arena.
Perry St. Arena
15 Perry St. Woodstock, Ontario
Home of the Woodstock Hockey Club
The Perry Street Arena in Woodstock was the oldest in Canada when it was demolished in 1996, and while I never personally made it there as a child, I do have to say that in retrospect they should have saved it. Junior A only played one season, 1933-34, in Woodstock. The site is currently occupied by the Gallery Cinemas movie theatre.
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Last Revised: September 24, 2020