The WHL as a whole has led the three leagues of the CHL in demolishing older buildings and replacing them with new ones. While the QMJHL still has a lot of old barns in their league, particularly in the province of Quebec, and while the OHL started replacing their older rinks in the 2000’s, the WHL started the process a lot earlier. Kamloops, Victoria and Kelowna’s Memorial Arenas, Spokane Coliseum, Mercer Arena, and Saskatoon Arena were all replaced in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and most of them have since been demolished.
A truly old WHL barn, then, is a rare thing and must be cherished, and in the entire league, there are none older or better than Queen’s Park Arena. Home to the New Westminster Bruins in the 1970’s and 80’s, the building opened originally in 1930 and is still open as a hockey and lacrosse venue. Situated in lush, pleasant parkland in a Vancouver suburb, Queen’s Park Arena had a new lobby built in the 70’s or 80’s, judging by its appearance, so at least from the outside the building is a little bland and undistinguished. (The original façade was brown brick Art Deco, and it’s really too bad it’s no longer there.)
It’s only once inside that the true age of Queen’s Park becomes apparent. The arena bowl is a relic, with a wood ceiling and wooden floors throughout, a simple pad of ice surrounded by seats. A roof truss was built at some point to remove the support columns blocking views from the seating area (it’s visible in the 1978 team photo, so it’s been at least that long), but apart from that and an old analog scoreboard there’s very little signs that it’s no longer 1930. Views are obstructed only in the four corners, where the support columns are still there. All the seats are blue, linked together as benches with backrests, and banners hang liberally from the ceiling, honouring not just hockey teams of the past but also lacrosse teams. Queen’s Park Arena is open year-round, and in the summer the New Westminster Salmonbellies lacrosse team plays there.
History is also all over the arena, including a lobby display case honouring the Memorial Cup-winning Bruins teams of 1977 and 1978. Part of the original parquet floor belonging to the Salmonbellies is also hanging in one end of the rink as a historical display to those teams. There aren’t a lot of remaining historic arenas left in Western Canada, but Queen’s Park Arena is unquestionably the finest of the lot, and one hopes it will remain open for long into the future.