Vernon historian uncovers footage of demolished Civic Arena from 1961

Civic memories live on

A park may now sit where Vernon's Civic Arena once stood – but, thanks to celluloid, memories of the much-used arena live on.

For decades, the building was a place for the community to gather for everything from hockey games to celebrations.

Vernon historian and videographer Francois Arseneault has uncovered footage of a hockey game at the arena from 1961.

Work on the Civic Arena began in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression and employed relief workers for construction.

“When it opened, the Civic was billed as ‘the only structure of its kind between Vancouver and the Kootenays equipped with artificial ice,'” Arseneault says.

The original building had a facade on the front and back that made the structure look larger than it was. By the 1950s, the facade was removed, giving the building more of a traditional arena shape.

“Over its 80-year history, the arena played host to countless hockey games, figure skating competitions and community skates, but it also acted as a community centre, where banquets, concerts, dances and exhibitions were held under its wooden roof,” Arseneault says. “On VE day in May 1945, nearly the entire community congregated at the arena to celebrate the end of war in Europe.”

Kal Tire place was built in 2001, and the aging Civic was deemed too expensive to maintain and was demolished.

The grainy, black and white footage of the hockey game was taken sometime in 1961. This game appears to have ended in a 5-4 loss to the visitors.

Just like today, colourful advertisements were mounted along the walls encourage fans to purchase their wares.

Arseneault is always looking for more information on the vintage footage he digs up, and he encourages people to add their input in the comments section on his YouTube page.

Anyone who may have old 16 mm or 8 mm film footage of the Vernon and Okanagan area is invited to email Arseneault at [email protected].

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