Garden City Arena: Memories

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Mike Schram with Bobby Hull.

Contributed by Mike Schram. 

Selling concessions during the Chicago Blackhawks NHL Preseason training camp at the Garden City Arena

"My younger brother and I along with some neighbouring kids in our age cohort were provided an opportunity to walk the stands selling concessions over three nights when the Chicago Blackhawks held their preseason training camp in St Catharines and hosted teams for exhibition matches.

Working the first game was actually the first time my brother and I had been in Garden City Arena when the stands were full. Prior to that we attended a few public skating hours on Saturday afternoons before our Standard paper routes, but the energy of the crowds, for a 13 year old was exciting. Hawking various snacks meant our eyes could not be on the action very often, so unfortunately we missed every goal, there wasn’t a screen to catch replays.

My friends stumbled on a good idea to get close up with the players. We restocked our boxes in the closing moments of a period and then walked to the vomitoria leading from the ice to the change rooms. Waiting for our exhausted heroes and seeing them pass by was a great thrill. Luckily there were always fans in stands wishing to avoid the smoke filled dank corridors leading to the washrooms until absolutely necessary.

When given ice cream bars to sell we always groaned. The last one in your kit was always a tough sell but we seemed to manage.

St Catharines has always been a hockey town."

- Robert Romanuk


Vance Badawey

The Garden City Arena and the Community

“It doesn’t matter where you’re playing if you have a packed house, which is sometimes rare. Depending where you’re playing, sometimes you get packed houses, sometimes you don’t, but in St. Catharines you always did.”

“That facility has brought, not just St. Catharines and not just Niagara, but all of Canada and even the world together under that roof. And, therefore, when you go in there you feel that. You feel that and its nothing you can say in words its only something you can experience in feeling.”

“It’s like a house. You know, you buy a house, it’s a house and over time it becomes a home. And what the Garden City Arena had to its advantage was that time.”

- Vance Badawey, MP of Niagara Centre

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Leslie Thorburn skating in Switzerland. 

Contributed by Leslie Thorburn.

Figure Skating & the Winter Club

“I was champion figure-skater of Gothenburg and of southern Sweden and lived in the early 60s here and skated a lot on the arena, including in "shows" by the Winter Club.One year I was the horrible witch in a children’s story on ice. All in black, big, big nose and droopy hat… The Standard wrote: "she did the grisly part to perfection." The best write-up I ever had in my long ice show career! I skated on that ice arena til I was 74, I think (hip-replacement). I am now 97.” 

- Leslie Thorburn, champion figure skater

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St. Catharines TeePees, 1953-1954.

The St. Catharines TeePees: Memorial Cup Champions, 1954

“Cecil Hoekstra who we all had a crush on cuz he was so cute."

“So they brought the first Junior A title to the city of St. Catharines and I’m telling you everybody was just blown away, it was just a wonderful, wonderful championship game.”

“Official program was 15 cents and I have ticket stubs one was 50 cents to get into the game and the other was 75 cents. Those were the days. Those were the days."

"My girlfriend and I after the hockey game we would go to the Diana Sweets or the Crystal Restaurant on James St."

- Marion McQueen, local hockey fan


Marion and Paul McQueen.

Following World War II

“I remember distinctly when World War II was over and when that was over the arena here was not open but when it reopened in 1946 it was really full. And it was full of some older people like me, or older people that were perhaps in their lower-20s and they came to skate because World War II was over and they had been discharged.”

- Paul McQueen


Dan McKnight.

Oldtimers Hockey Challenge Signed Puck and Photo

"Here's a picture of my son Robert with Marcel Dionne. Marcel actually signed this puck for my son! 'Oldtimer Hockey Heroes', and he put the year of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame - 1992 - on the bottom. So I thought it was really really nice of him to do that. It really made my son's day, you know? It was really amazing to have something signed by a Hall of Fame player, and of course Marcel Dionne played his Junior career here in St. Catharines."

-Dan McKnight, local hockey fan


Koreen McCullough.

The Niagara Roller Girls, est. 2012

"There were people from all walks of life. So you had academic advisors from Brock, ESL teachers and myself, and we had teachers, dental hygenists, stay-at-home moms... all different kinds of people."

-Koreen McCullough, aka "Hard Kor"


Bill Park.

Emergency Task Unit

“We used this building for the first three or four years for a tattoo. Military music, marching, displays, and part of the display that we decided on was that the Emergency Task Force at the appropriate time would repel out of the ceiling. And so we did. And while we were doing that, the guys drove in with the trucks and we put on a display.”

- Bill Park, Emergency Task Unit


Niagara IceDogs puck.

Contributed by Richard Predovich.

Niagara IceDogs

“The arena was so loud that we could hear the cheering and everything from the arena outside in the truck. It would go through— There’s a little cutway where the old Zamboni used to park that they didn’t use anymore and it would go right through that through a metal door that they had and we could hear it outside. If we were— For whatever reason, if I had somebody outside the truck, you know in the parking lot getting ready to do something, they could hear when the team scored and they’d come running into the truck ‘oh, who scored? Who got it?’”

- Darren Sawyer, producer of OHL Tonight

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Photo of Tony's Tasty Treats also known as Tasti Treat, Tasty Treat, and Tasti-Treet at 19 Queenston St.

Contributed by Mark Montefiore.

Tony’s Tasty Treats

"Everybody would go there for french fries, everyone would go for a hotdog, and we'd go in there. And the lineups are crazy, like after a game there might be 30, 40 people hanging out outdoors, it was a place to hang out especially for us under-aged kids, just to go to a place to hang out after the game. That was always fun. That was part of the whole adventure for us. We go watch a hockey game at the arena, go grab a hotdog at Tony's afterwards." 

- Jerome Kudera