Galt Arena Gardens is the oldest continuously-operating arena in the world and the oldest operating arena in Ontario. It was built throughout 1921 and opened in January 1922. It is the home of the Junior B Winter Hawks and the Cambridge Skating Club, as well as being the venue for the annual Cambridge Skating Races (formerly Galt Skating Races).
Wonderful historic artworks are on permanent display on the end walls of the arena and in the Upper Servery depicting Gordie Howe, KIrk Maltby, The Fans, Historic Autographs and the Cambridge Skating Club. They were created by Terry and Brenda Carter, and artists John Littlejohn and Rick Murphy, from D3 Art Works Inc.
Galt Arena Gardens is designated for its architectural and historical significance and was designed by F. C. Bodley of Brantford. The Gardens is described as a building of Edwardian style with an art deco flare. The Edwardian features include the roughly-chiseled stone base, and the two rustic towers. The Art Deco style is reflected in the curved parapet walls. When the Gardens was constructed in 1921, it was built to accommodate one third of the population of Galt. Hockey was becoming theater and drama and needed to be housed in an appropriate structure! The Galt Arena Gardens attempted to meet these changing needs and aspirations of its community. Many hockey celebrities have called the gardens home, and over the years the arena was the venue for a variety of events such as concerts, religious meetings, roller skating, circuses and figure and speed skating.
(Main image top: the newly built Galt Arena Gardens and park gates circa 1925)
(Right image above: interior of Galt Arena Gardens under construction)
Galt Figure Skating ClubThe Cambridge Skating Club was formerly called The Galt Figure Skating Club prior to the amalgamation of Preston, Galt and Hespeler to form the city of Cambridge. It was sanctioned by the Canadian Figure Skating Association in 1951.
The top newspaper clipping shows the newly formed club with all the new youngsters eager to begin lessons in “fancy skating”.
Below is a clipping from the 1952 registration.
- Between 1995 and 1997 Galt Arena underwent underwent a $4.5 million renovation ensuring it will continue in service as one of Canada’s most historic ice rinks. As part of the project the clearstory windows, wood beams and ceiling were exposed, a new concrete floor and seating was installed, and the Cambridge Skating Club office was included adjacent to the main lobby.
Cambridge Skating Club donated $17,000 towards the renovation. In the Cambridge Times article(left) the Cambridge Skating Club President and Boards Members present the city with the cheque.
A weekend celebration for the Grand Re-Opening of Galt Arena Gardens included a Hornet oldtimer game with the Cambridge Firefighters, a Winter Hawks game against the Listowel Cyclones and the Cambridge Skating Club invited all former club members to return to celebrate. There was an Alumni Reception immediately followed by the annual Club Competition. Many items from the past dating back to 1951 were put on display around the arena. Click here to see images from the event.
Following the renovation a series of painted murals were permanently installed to commemorate the rich history of the rink and local athletes, which includes the mural(below) recognizing the Cambridge Skating Club’s 50th Anniversary in 2001.Image courtesy of Artists and Apprentices at d3artworks Inc.
In 2001/02 Cambridge Skating Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a special Ice Show called, ” Thanks for the Memories“. Our featured guest skaters were Ron Shaver (Canadian Senior Men’s Champion, World and Olympic competitor, and Cambridge Skating Club Alumni) and Lindsay Cloke(former Cambridge Skating Club member) with competitive dance partner Russell Guthormsen.
Many luminaries returned to celebrate with us such as Linda Ward (Purdy), Kim Wylie (Black), as well as Galt Figure Skating Club co-founder Mrs. Dorothy Babcock.
Some of our coaches with Ron Shaver after the show. (left to right) Trudy, Donna, Bev, Nancy, Ron, Sandy, Heather and Chantal
Galt Figure Skating Club’s First President
Douglas Lawrence Kimpel was born and raised in Galt, Ontario. He married Gay Rutherford also of Galt in 1948 and raised a family of 3 children. Doug and Gay first started skating in Oshawa in 1951 and they soon became the Oshawa Foxtrot and Tango Champions. They both skated in several Toronto Skating Club carnivals.
Doug was instrumental in the formation of the Galt Figure Skating Club (now Cambridge Skating Club) and served as its first President. Doug put together and ran the 1956 Canadian Championships in Galt, which were successful and profitable; breaking the mould of holding Canadian Championships only in major centres. This opened up the possibilities for small communities to participate in hosting championship events.
Skate Canada President
At the age 38, Dough was elected the President at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Governing Council of the CFSA (Canadian Figure Skating Association, now Skate Canada) on October 26, 1963 at Niagara Falls, Ontario and remained president until 1965. He held office as a Director of the CFSA for more than 15 years, during which time he chaired many committees, some of which were the Finance and Investment Committee, as well as the Sections Committee. He became known as the “Father of Sections” for developing and setting up the Sections (with the exception of B.C. where one already existed) in its present structure; developing infrastructure, rules, governance and competitions. He also served as the first Chairperson of Western Ontario Section in 1957, initiated and created the Badge program, and introduced Novice Championships. He put together the first post Worlds tour in Canada and the U.S. He was the ISU (International Skating Union) delegate in Vienna, and the CFSA World Team Manager at Cortina, Italy in 1963.
Western Ontario Section Hall of Fame Induction
Douglas L. Kimpel was elected into the Skate Canada, Western Ontario Section Hall of Fame in the Builder catergory for his outstanding vision, dedication and commitment to the sport of figure skating. His Induction Plaque was presented to Norma Poyntz, representing the Cambridge Skating Club (formerly Galt Figure Skating Club) at the Western Ontario Section Annual General Meeting on May 7, 2011.
The Cambridge Skating Club is proud to have had the following club members inducted into the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame. The exhibit can be viewed at the Cambridge Centre(near the food court) on Hespeler Road, Cambridge, Ontario. Click the links below to read more about the inductees.
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