Watching adults skate among fondest childhood memories
One of my fondest memories as a child is standing by the boards in our old rink at the corner of Elizabeth and Library Streets on a Saturday night watching the grown-ups skate. I was in awe of the way they swooped into the corners with speed and grace. The children were chased off the ice at 9 p.m.
Skating for adults was the one recreation that was available for men and women in the winter. They skated in couples to music with a good strong beat suitable for a comfortable stride. My parents were both skaters. The finest compliment my father could give a woman was to say that she was a beautiful skater.
Perhaps that is the reason I have enjoyed skating the most of my life and happily now am giving you an account of the Creemore Adult Skating Club now in its 40th season. Adult skating languished for a few years in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1976 Creemore received the news that our beloved rink had to be torn down. To get a few more hours in before that fateful day Darlene Curran phoned around and arranged for adult skating at 10 p.m. on a week night. There were quite a few takers.
With the horror of a demolished arena before us local people gathered together their resources and energy and by the late winter of 1978 the arena on Collingwood Street was built and paid for and opened. The skating enthusiasts soon organized an adult skating club and had their first event that first week of April. The skaters from Collingwood and Stayner were invited and a grand skating party was held, with plates of sandwiches and sweets, tea and coffee afterwards.
By the end of 1978 the group boasted a membership of 109. Dee Ferry who lived on the hill on Collingwood Street North convinced many people to join as a sort of civic duty. Skating was held Thursday evenings from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
Right away it became obvious that some fundraising was needed to pay for ice time and to ensure that admission was reasonable. Pancake breakfasts were held in June, first on the lawn beside the Crawford Funeral Home (now Fawcetts), later at the arena hall. The last one was held in 2004. It was great fun working with fellow members providing a satisfying community outing.
Fees for ice time always seemed to be rising and at one point it was decided to skate for just one hour, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., still on Thursday evenings. By the year 2000, skating was changed to Tuesday afternoons from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and it continues at that time.
Our group has been involved in several social activities over the winter season. Christmas was observed with a potluck lunch after skating in mid December, later changed to a restaurant meal. For many years a Robbie Burns celebration was held with a party inviting the Collingwood and Stayner skaters. The Collingwood skaters invited us for Valentine’s Day: likewise we were invited to Stayner for St. Patrick’s Day. There was always a wind-up potluck for the last skate. At the present we observe, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and finish the season with a potluck lunch.
For many years the Adult Skaters put a float in the Santa Claus Parade.
We won several trophies. As with the pancake breakfasts, members contributed willingly spending Saturday morning putting the float together at Keith and Margaret Rowbotham’s place. One year we walked calling ourselves Olympic Gold Medal winners.
The presidents over the years were Eileen Dodd, Kay Newell, Bob Kent, Allan Walker, Gertie Gowan, Keith Rowbotham, Lloyd Miller, Myrtle Carruthers, Wayne McQuay, Jane Timmons, Helen Blackburn, Bruce Bish and Lynn Wilkinson.
Eileen Dodd, our first president, gave much time and effort to getting us off on a good foot. She never missed a night skating and helped provide the music.
Myrtle Carruthers, served as president and then as treasurer for many years. Hers was the smiling face that greeted skaters as they arrived at the door. She always helped with whatever needed helping.
Keith Rowbotham was president, was the master builder for the Santa Claus Parade, was the master arranger for the pancake breakfasts and has put together some excellent music on tapes, now on CDs.
Gertie Gowan has also been one of our mainstays. She was president and secretary for many years. She always was there when help was needed.
Early in the morning on Pancake Breakfast Day she was up brewing a vat of coffee and took it to the arena so we had coffee by 6:30 or 7 a.m.
Lloyd and Ruby Miller lived in Stayner but gave much to the Creemore club. They were the ones who suggested going in the Santa Claus Parade and had such a kind way of asking for help, a way that we never wanted to refuse.
Kay Newell who passed away last year at age 100 was with us every season until she was 89, such a graceful and strong skater. The last few years she sweetly asked for good strong men to take her for a few whirls around the ice.
I can’t praise enough the skaters I have met over the years. They have been the cheeriest, the friendliest, the most cooperative and helpful people I could ever want to meet.
A big thank you to Dan Gowan who makes the best ice in the country and runs a well managed and clean community centre. And a big thank you to Keith Rowbotham, Gertie Gowan and Myrtle Carruthers for sharing their memories.
Photo: Creemore Adult Skating Club Christmas dinner Dec. 11, 2007. Back row: Don Wilson, Al Eagle, Ray Hogg, Gord Blackburn, Marilyn and Bruce Bish, Gertie Gowan, Norma Lawler, Helen Chestnut, Keith Rowbotham, Bob Carruthers, Wayne McQuay. Front row: Myrtle Carruthers, Elsa Wilson, Gerry and Terry Dimitroff, Helen Blackburn, Margaret Rowbotham and Ken Chestnut. Photo taken by Joyce McQuay.