By Dudleigh Coyle
Watching the thermometer is routine work for all who manage the Glebe Memorial Park rink on Glendale. This year, because of an unusually mild February, we had to reschedule the annual rink party a couple of times. With great delight and surprise, we welcomed Saturday, February 11 when all the stars finally lined up. More than 200 people came out to enjoy the sunny afternoon, and most were on skates. There were tube steaks (hot dogs), drinks (warm and cold), cookies, treats and, best of all, good ice. There was no skating on the Rideau Canal, but there was at Glendale. Special thanks to Randy Freda who scraped and flooded from midnight until 4 a.m. to make sure the rink was ready.
Eric Chernoff, Jennifer Shaw and their three boys organized the event, and the 2023 Glebe Memorial Rink hoodie seemed to be everywhere. Thanks also to local businesses for their support: Starbucks in the Glebe and Bridgehead at 282 Elgin.
Glebe Memorial has been around for a long time, and volunteers have been its mainstay for well over 40 years. At this years’ party, it was nice to see the old and the new out celebrating together. Glebe Memorial elder Rudy Koop – ex-flooder, ex-hockey player, ex-treasurer and current volunteer – has been active for over 35 years. He savoured a tube steak and reminisced about rink parties past. Murray Wilson, a regular for years at the volunteers’ Sunday morning game, recounted his earliest times at the rink when he was in grade school (see box).
Glebe Memorial has been part of the community pretty much forever. I took over as Chief Rink Rat in 1986 and have enjoyed every minute of my volunteer years. The rink is supported now by 26 volunteers and seven teenage student supervisors. I reckon that during the last 40-odd years, there have been more than 90 parent volunteers (shovelling, flooding and supervising) and more than 110 students with the best winter job ever – getting paid to supervise and play endless hours of shinny. At Glebe Memorial, the key rule is everyone is welcome, everybody plays.
I can’t say enough good things about Ottawa’s Outdoor Rink Program. Hundreds of volunteers city-wide devote their time to maintaining and supervising more than. 240 rinks. Thank you: you make us all proud!
Dudleigh Coyle, the Chief Rink Rat at Glebe Memorial, won an Ontario volunteer award last year, partly for his efforts looking after the rink since 1986.
Murray Wilson’s earliest memories of Glebe Memorial
When I was a kid, I lived at 35 Glendale. Every day during the Outdoor Rink (ODR) season, someone tied my skates at home, and I walked up the street (no skate guards) to the rink. The shack hasn’t changed very much since the early ’50s, except for the odd coat of paint. In those days, there was a city employee there all the time. He was a little rough around the edges, but he taught us young hockey players a few things about life. He would arrive mid-afternoon during the week, get the two coal-fired stoves going so that it would be warm (the stoves would be red hot) for skaters by the time school was out do any shovelling that was necessary. The hockey rink had low boards (about two feet high) and it ran east-west parallel to Chamberlain. There was a small skating area where the rink is now. There were many hockey games going on all at the same time, with the big guys playing the full length of the rink and the smaller kids playing across the rink. It made for lots of collisions.
The ODR season started before Christmas and wrapped up at the end of February. We always vowed to continue the rink after the shack was closed, but I think it snowed two feet starting at midnight every February 28 so that was the end of the season. Then the ball hockey season started. When the snow was gone, we would go back to the park to play baseball. One spring, the poles for the rink lights hadn’t been removed before opening day, so someone went home to get an axe and we chopped down the pole that was in the way. If you played short stop or left field, you had to watch out for the short stump. Great memories!
Years later, my children were playing soccer at the Mutchmor field and as the start of the season approached, we noticed that the poles for the rink lights had not been removed. So, I phoned the city and spoke to the director of Rink Pole Removal. She told me that the poles would be removed in about two weeks. I explained that the soccer season was starting before then, but she was unmoved. I then told her how the boys at Glendale field had dealt with a similar situation about 30 years earlier. There was silence at the other end of the line, then she said “Oh, I don’t think you should do that.” The poles were gone two days later.