Remembering the old barn

Nicholas Mercer nmercer@cbncompass.ca
Published on February 4, 2016
An exterior view of S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.
Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass

As construction at the peak of Jamie’s Way in Harbour Grace approaches its finish date, the end of the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace draws closer.

Affectionately called “the old barn,” by many hockey pundits in the town and around the region, the stadium has been a recreational fixture in Conception Bay North for almost 60 years.

It’s seen countless exhibitions of minor hockey, senior hockey, recreational hockey and figure skating in those five-plus decades.

Thousands of athletes and recreational skaters have taken to the ice in one form or another.

They’ve tied up their skates either in the thick blue dressing rooms or on the time tested bleachers.

The canteen has moved over the years, but they still sell the same stadium fries.

You can get them in a relatively warm environment now, but back in my day you lined up in the cold and ate them in the cold.

It was a part of the charm.

Just mention the name S.W. Moores and people start sharing stories.

They tell you of days when a chain link fence surrounded the ice surface and when the Faulkner brothers made senior hockey waves.

They tell you of countless Herder Memorial trophies and storied rivalries between Ascension Collegiate, St. Francis, the Bay Arena, CBN minor, Southern Shore and otherwise.

People remember their heroes. Players like Jim Penney and Joe Hunt. Everyday guys who probably worked down the road, but rivaled their professional cousins as idols on the ice.

Rinks like the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium take on a different life in a small community like Harbour Grace.

Saturday nights became more than just another night at the stadium. It turned into a social club.

You’re connected at the rink. You learned about your neighbours and their lives — it just so happened to be bookended by a hockey game.

In between whistles, there is plenty of time for open discussion. There are no topics left off the table. Politics, life and otherwise are all up for discussion.

In some sense, the hockey game becomes a microcosm for the lives of its spectators.

Mind you, there is still plenty of time to get out and enjoy the old rink.

Although Harbour Grace officials have said on numerous occasions that the plan is to wait until the New Year to move operations into the new facility, there is still a bit of a foreboding sensation when you enter the rink.

It’ll take a bit of time for the new one to get to the status of the old one.

It’ll take some puck marks on the new boards to give her a bit of character. Maybe a scrap or two in the stands, even.

The new one will get to the status of the old one.

Until that happens, make sure to pay your respects to the old girl.

She’s got some stories to tell.

 

Nicholas Mercer is a reporter and photographer with The Compass.

He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbncompass.ca.