A complex road to the sports complex
The Village of Nakusp has always been passionate about hockey. In the 1920s the Arrow Lakes Fruit Fair Association used part of the old Fair Building as an arena in the winter. They made improvements to the original building (which was constructed in 1912) by supplying dressing rooms. Over the years, this building fell into a terminal state of disrepair and collapsed under heavy snow in February, 1949. Residents, not to be undone completely, converted the wreckage into an outdoor rink until the community could rally to build another arena.
By the end of March, 1949, a plan was struck to construct a new 80’ x 170’ building for $10,000. The Nakusp Farmers’ Institute agreed to deed the two acres of land and title of the Agricultural Hall to the Nakusp Recreation Association and the community set to work raising the necessary funds. Construction began in September, 1951. E.M. Tory of Alberta was contracted to fabricate and erect the trusses, anchoring them to a concrete foundation and wooden arches.
By December 1953, the construction was complete, leaving only some minor interior finishing work. On December 21st, children had enjoyed playing in the facility and had just left for home when the building collapsed. Although the building was supposed to withstand local winter conditions, it fell to the ground under just six inches of wet snow. Although a definitive cause was never established, speculation pointed to the “moisture resistant” (not water resistant) glue that had been used to hold the beams, as the cause. Others felt that the support cables were at fault. Regardless, arena number two was now history.
From the wreckage another outdoor rink was born. The cleanup was lengthy, taking almost three years to complete, but by December 6th, 1956, volunteers were flooding the ice on this outdoor rink.
Some years later, in 1968, the Kinsmen Club took it upon themselves to raise money and the roof of a third arena building. Once the exterior was constructed, a referendum was held through the RDCK and $40,000 was borrowed to purchase an artificial ice plant. The referendum passed with 75% support in Nakusp and 76% in the outlying areas.
After almost 13,000 volunteer hours, a huge fund-raising effort by the entire community, the borrowing and securing of Centennial grant funding, the new arena opened on December 16, 1970. Residents were able to enjoy artificial ice in an enclosed building for the very first time.
However, on July 18, 1978, disaster struck yet again and the skating arena was destroyed by arson. No one was ever charged with the crime. The facility was insured for $465,000, although replacement costs at the time were estimated to be one million dollars.
Less than one month after the fire, plans to rebuild were already underway. This process did not go as smoothly as in the past but eventually the new regional facility was officially opened on February 12, 1980. Thus, the Nakusp and District Sports Complex came to be.
Almost in defiance of fate, this building has stood for many years and only gets better. There have been many upgrades to improve the efficiency of the facility including a new heat-recovery system, ice-plant and solar panels. This complex is a testament to the tenacity and spirit of a small community that is passionate about ice sports and opportunities for its children.
The Village of Nakusp has one soccer field and three baseball fields. The baseball fields are named after respected community members who lost their lives in tragic accidents.
John (Jackie) James
Jackie was an accomplished baseball player in the 1950s. He played for Burton and Nakusp and like many of the young men of that era, Jackie worked in the logging industry. In the early 1970s Jackie was killed in a logging accident. To learn more about Jackie James, please visit the Western Canada Baseball page: attheplate.com
Kathryn Louise Pedersen
Kathy Pedersen was an extremely active student at Nakusp Secondary School. She was an avid athlete, winning the “Athlete of the Year” award twice, graduating from high school in 1986. Kathy was killed in a car accident January 19, 1987. She is fondly remembered by her family and friends and is buried in the Glenbank Cemetery.
The Helen Zeleznik Memorial Park opened in 2002 – thanks to the efforts by project manager Gord Marshall, local businesses and volunteers. $45,000 was provided from Community Initiatives, along with funds from other contributors. This money was used to transform an open field of weeds into a beautiful, useful green-space.
Waterfront Walkway, Trails & Parks
In 1991, with the goal of creating a healthy community, Mayor Rosemarie Johnson, Councillors Laura Beingessner, Karen Hamling, Bob Fenwick and Irene Dunn committed to the waterfront/parks project. It was felt that this asset would be of great benefit to residents and visitors alike.
Because our village had not received Expo funding (as others in the area had), the Village successfully appealed for 50% of the costs for the waterfront/parks project, from GO BC. $50,000 per year for the first three years was placed in our budget and matched by government funding. This $300,000 was used to put in a water system, gardens, grass, walkways, picnic areas, a gazebo, washrooms, a concession building, sidewalks for stub street ends, picnic tables, blacktopping the arena parking lot and more.
BC Hydro, along with help from Milton Parent of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society, had the kiosk built below the Leland Hotel.
Along with Public Works, the K-40 Club under the direction of Doreen Desrochers, spearheaded a project to put memorial benches along the walkway. There was an overwhelming response by many families, and there are now more than 27 benches on the walkway, which represent a contribution from the community of over $16,000. As well, many families chose to place a tree along the walk as a living memory of a family member – a contribution of over $800.
In 1995, BC Hydro contributed $57,000 toward the street end slopes of 2nd, 3rd and 5th Streets.
Today, it is heartening to see residents enjoying the walk and the view, and a source of pride to hear the praise from visitors and residents.