St. Catharines university students take over Garden City Arena for stroll down memory lane

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Published November 18, 2021 at 1:28 pm

For longtime residents in St Catharines, the 85-year-old Garden City Arena is filled with memories of hockey, roller derby, lacrosse and even concerts.

Brock University students are hoping to collect some of those memories to preserve them for the future.

Next Saturday (November 27) from 1 to 5 pm, the students want the public to come on down so they can record people’s memories and photograph or scan physical objects, such as skates, hockey sticks, event flyers and concert ticket stubs.

“It’s about more than just sports. The arena provides a starting point for exploring broader issues in local, national and even global history, including gender, race and class relations, deindustrialization and urban renewal,”  Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak told the campus paper Brock News.

Since the arena will soon be decommissioned by the city with its future still up in limbo, this memento-fest will emphasize the importance of this event to both the students and community-at-large.

“We want to preserve as much of its history as possible now, while we still can — and so much of that history is in people’s memories of the place,” says Vlossak. “We want to learn about people’s relationships with the arena, what it has meant to them, what have they collected and why are these things important to them.

“This is an opportunity for members of the community to share their stories, photographs and memorabilia of the Garden City Arena, and to celebrate a building that has been so important to so many people since it opened in 1938.”

Brock students have been working in partnership with their own Archives and Special Collections, as well as the St. Catharines Museum to research the history of the arena for upcoming digital exhibits.

Kathleen Powell, Supervisor of Historical Services at the St. Catharines Museum, said, “This type of event provides the museum the opportunity to add these oral history stories to our collection so that we can share a diversity of voices in our work and connect these voices and stories to add life to the artifacts within the collection.”

(Below: Jon Lowe, St. Catharines Supervisor of Recreation Facilities gave Brock History students a behind-the-scenes tour of the Garden City Arena earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Brock University)

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