There was sad news this morning that the sports centre in Tyne Valley burned overnight. Thankfully no one was injured, a miracle when six fire departments and heavy equipment were on the scene. Photos show the frame of the building is mostly still standing, but the interior is gutted and a lot of history is gone: trophies, plaques, photos, files and records. Just stuff, in the end, but it all told a story.
Before the sports centre was built, most communities in our area had a small outside rink, often just a clearing on a pond that was kept free of snow by skaters and hockey players. Then for many years after the Second World War, a rink at the former RCAF Station Mount Pleasant was also used for hockey and skating parties.
My father was an enthusiastic hockey player and coach. He would work in his general store all day and head to a rink on many winter evenings, often ferrying a load of players in the back of his pickup truck. It was a tough game, with little protective gear and certainly no helmets!
People from Foxley River to Lot 16 supported the building of this central facility, just as they had the building of the Stewart Memorial Hospital in the early 1950s. Government funding was secured as part of the centennial celebrations of the 1864 meeting of the Fathers of Confederation, which saw lots of government dollars flow across the Island.
The community held a parade and carnival to coincide with the official opening of the building in August 1964. This was the beginning of the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival that continues to this day. I’m proud to say my father was one of the people who helped create both the sports centre and the festival.
The shock and grief of this loss has already been followed by a strong outpouring of support and a drive to rebuild. I know of no stronger community, no people better equipped to come together for a common cause. Everyone will pitch in and work hard and, best of all, appreciate and lift each other up while doing it. We have excellent young leaders in our community, and they will create something even better, I know it.