Mak­ing Ice:

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS - Spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tion Richard (''Sam'') Poaps

Ilearnedto skate at Chan­nel’s Rink, just across the high­way/main street and a few houses up to­wards the cen­tre of the town of Stanstead Que­bec, maybe a few hun­dred yards away from my home. They sold hot dogs for ten cents and I re­mem­ber slather­ing the dog and me with mus­tard and then “clump­ing” home, with my skates on, not to be re­peated.

Learn­ing to skate in a small town is an ex­pe­ri­ence to be learned, ex­pe­ri­enced and en­joyed, and the very girls that I later threw snow­balls at as they cy­cled along main street on a late au­tumn snow fall day, were prob­a­bly the ones that took me by the hands and arms and helped to get me around the first few ovals of the nat­u­ral ice sur­face. The youngish girls were al­ways help­ful and af­ter a few turns, they may have moved on to help an­other as­pir­ing Rocket Richard or maybe contented them­selves as they too de­vel­oped their ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Chan­nels was an old, dark, wooden quad style of an arena, with a few spec­ta­tor stands along the sides of the boards, for maybe 500 peo­ple. The change rooms were dank and poorly lit but there was a small ticket win­dow at the en­trance and a small­ish restau­rant counter where hot dogs, cof­fee, hot choco­late and cokes were sold. The fa­cil­i­ties, as I re­call were pretty small and mod­est, but there were sep­a­rate “Men’s” and “Lady’s. There was no ice mak­ing ma­chine, so the ice at Chan­nel’s was al­ways nat­u­ral and de­pended on cold out­side win­ter weather, and pe­ri­od­i­cally could be al­most in­vis­i­ble un­der a vapour cloud of mist if warmer mois­ture laden, spring air met up with a cold ice sur­face. It was just an­other nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena that a very limited ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem

Forthe last sev­eral years, The Ro­tary Club of the Bound­ary, has of­fered two vo­ca­tional schol­ar­ships in the area. Th­ese schol­ar­ships are of­fered to a grad­u­at­ing stu­dent who wishes to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion in the vo­ca­tion that they have cho­sen to fol­low. Th­ese vo­ca­tions are those of tech­ni­cal na­ture (i.e. agri­cul­ture, car­pen­try, me­chanic, re­frig­er­a­tion, hos­pi­tal­ity, etc.), and are geared to col­lege ca­reer ori­ented pro­grams, rather than uni­ver­sity. One is is­sued to a Canadian stu­dent re­sid­ing in the Bound­ary area in­clud­ing Ay­ers Cliff, Hat­ley and North Hat­ley and im­me­di­ate area, and the other to a U.S. stu­dent re­sid­ing in Derby Line, Derby, Hol­land, Mor­gan, Charleston and im­me­di­ate area. was not de­signed to han­dle but to be en­joyed and pa­tiently waited on, to clear on “Hockey nite in Stanstead.”

My brother Philip played for the Stanstead Black­hawks and I can re­mem­ber him hold­ing forth on the blue line in his gray sweat­shirt. Sammy Bethel was an­other player, maybe the goalie. They were play­ing one of their fre­quent op­po­nents; the hated team from Beebe dressed in their blue “Maple Leaf” jer­seys. When we bored of the per­for­mance, we chased each other around the nar­row aisles of the empty spec­ta­tor benches, un­til Mr. Ben­bow, re­mon­strated that we should pay at­ten­tion to the game, and maybe learn some­thing. We usu­ally set­tled down and watched the re­main­der of the game, usu­ally, or strayed away into the cold win­ter night air, and home.

Then one day, Chan­nels was de­clared un­safe and in no time at all, was soon un­der­go­ing de­mo­li­tion by a Sher­brook con­trac­tor, leav­ing the three vil­lages with no cov­ered ice sur­face. Neigh­bour­ing towns of Beebe, Rock Is­land, Derby Line and Ay­ers Cliff, had al­ready ad­dressed and solved the win­ter rink sce­nario and all had their nor­mal, one or two or even three, nat­u­ral ice, out door sur­faces fit­ted with mod­est and small­ish chang­ing rooms, restau­rants and park­ing fa­cil­i­ties. Light­ing might just be nor­mal higher wattage bulbs strung from poles at the ends of the rinks, barely nine feet above the play­ing sur­face, although Stanstead Col­lege was fit­ted with new and higher qual­ity spot­light style of light­ing. Visibility was not the great­est. Rinks in those days were all pre­pared by men of the lo­cal vil­lage, but fre­quently would have one or two peo­ple em­ployed in the ice mak­ing and main­te­nance of the fa­cil­ity and an­other as ticket taker to earn a mod­est amount to help for the win­ter-time plea­sure. A town like Rock Is­land

cont'd page 13

Photo cour­tesy

This photo of the Stanstead Olympics hockey team was taken around 1925 by the fa­mous Parker Stu­dio, of Derby Line.

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