Scooter’s Roller Palace regulars heartbroken over future demolition of rink in Mississauga
Published February 17, 2023 at 2:06 pm
When a new roller rink opened in Mississauga back in 1975, Dave Normandin was one of the first people through the door.
Now called Scooter’s Roller Palace, the rink at 2105 Royal Windsor Dr. in Clarkson, opened as The Roller Palace, regulars say. The rink still has a retro feel with bright 1980s decor, disco balls and a bustling food counter selling pizza, hot dogs, chips and fountain pop.
In January, Slate Asset Management announced it has plans to demolish the rink and plaza to build four residential buildings at 29, 27, 25 and 23 storeys high with 1,237 residential units and 2,386 square metres of commercial space.
The property, just south of the Clarkson GO Train station, is a prime location for a “sustainable pedestrian urban community.”
While many regulars knew re-development was in the works, the recent announcement has many skaters reflecting on the past.
Normandin met his partner, Kerrie Mongey, at the Roller Palace when they were just teens in the early 1980s.
“I liked him from the day he walked in,” Mongey tells insauga.com.
But she was shy and although they kissed once, they went their separate ways. The Roller Palace closed sometime in the early 1990s — it was a nightclub and then a bookstore before reopening again with a new owner in 1994.
Kerrie Mongey and Dave Normandin met at Scooter’s.
Normandin and Mongey met again at Scooter’s in 2014. Mongey says she was sitting in the exact same spot as when she saw him for the first time. This time the relationship stuck and they have been together ever since.
“A lot of relationships and friendships started here,” says Celeste Holmes who comes to the rink twice a week and meets up with Normandin, Mongey and many others.
Holmes says she has about 40 friends who started coming in the 1970s and 80s and come back regularly for the adult skate nights on Thursdays and Sundays. They come for fitness, camaraderie and nostalgia.
“This is the place we love to go,” says Mongey.
Celeste Holmes, left, and Kerrie Mongey skate about twice a week.
Mongey started coming the Roller Palace when she was about seven years old. She recalls the owners letting her work the coat check so she could pay for the next skate session. Parents didn’t worry about their children there as the owners treated them as if they were their own kids, she says.
When he was about 12-years-old, Normandin met former Mayor Hazel McCallion at the rink during a skate-a-thon.
McCallion isn’t the only celebrity to take a spin around the rink. Musician Drake has rented out Scooter’s, and comedian Russell Peters and football star Pinball Clemons sometimes drop by.
Many of the original skaters now have grown children and some families skate together on the adult nights.
“It’s such a joy to see that,” says Holmes.
This Thursday night (Feb. 16), a line snaked around the building around opening time at 8 p.m. Most Sunday nights it is packed.
“We have had 400 to 500 people,” says Holmes.
Some people come from Hamilton, Cambridge and even the U.S.
Friends Celeste Holmes, left, Dawn Arthur, Gigi Backus, and Kim Pierson are regulars at Scooter’s.
Couple Darnell and Gigi Backus drive from Buffalo, New York to skate.
Darnell started coming in 1977 when he lived closer by but returns for friends and community. The news of the closure was upsetting.
“It broke my heart,” he says. “This has been part of the community for so long.”
Dave Robichaud and Dawn Arthur, who both worked on the TV series Battle of the Blades, met skating in Hamilton. Robichaud was one of the originals at the Roller Palace and now the couple comes about twice a week.
Dave Robichaud and Dawn Arthur skate a waltz at Scooter’s.
As instructors and former competitors, they don’t shy away from the opportunity for a spotlight roller dance. Scooter’s will regularly clear the rink for them to skate the waltz and while there used to be many couples that would join them, these days they are usually the only ones.
Robichaud says not many roller rinks would clear the floor for just one couple.
“We will miss the waltzing.”
Arthur says she will miss the many friends she has made.
There is no timeline for the closure and for now it’s “business as usual,” according to Scooter’s. There are no plans for relocating.
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The closure “hasn’t really set in” for Robichaud. He plans to continue skating at an outdoor rink Pier 8 in Hamilton and try a new location called Roller Pony in Rexdale.
But for many regulars, other rinks just aren’t the same. Some have just a track instead of the wide open space and others are outdoors and only open in summer.
Holmes says the sound system with its deep bass at Scooter’s gets her in the zone but more importantly it’s the place where she spends time with her old friends.
“It’s what has kept us together.”
Normandin says this is rink the last of its kind in the area. He has tried other roller rinks but none measure up.
“There’s no place like it.”insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising