Drawn to the past…

By Sandra L. Brown

September 13, 2017 4:23 PM

Carefully draped on a wooden hanger is an orange and blue vintage Oilers hockey jersey. 
Piled beneath in a jumble of colours is a collector’s dream of sports memorabilia including skates, hockey sticks, autographed prints and stacks of vintage hockey cards. 
Spending hours looking through this vast selection of vintage items from our collective past, I began to reflect as I slowly walked through the largest antique mall in western Canada. 
Off to the side in the parking lot is a Stanley Cup replica on display. 
Sparkling from the bright sun it proudly stands on a well-deserved pedestal as drivers speed by. 
Players’ names such as Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux and Bryan Trottier are forever engraved on this epitome of success. 
The vintage Oilers jersey doesn’t share its full story until you notice the autographed name and reminisce about the role he played on his team from days gone by. 
Even the player’s number is significant as these are retired for various reasons to honour the player and is now “hanging from the rafters.” 
The skates and sticks, though worn with use and time have a story from the past to share too as they are symbols of Canada’s hockey history. 
These revered remnants of the hockey past are just as important as the player’s stories since each generation of hockey fans has a favourite team, player and number to cheer for.
What is it about the past that draws us in and tweaks our curiosity to discover more? 
Lloydminster’s past isn’t only about events that shaped the way throughout its history, nor is it only about the retro items left behind; it’s also about the individuals who make up our community quilt and the roles they played in fashioning their legacy.
According to Wikipedia, the Zamboni was invented by Frank J. Zamboni, an American who was originally in the refrigeration business. 
Seizing an opportunity, the Model A Zamboni Ice-Resurfacer was born in 1949 which was said to have looked “like the offspring of a field tractor and a warehouse crate.” 
In other words, it wasn’t pretty.
Opening in 1966, the ice surface of the Archie Miller rink was cleaned off by town and rural folks yielding a shovel or ice scraper.
Its cold interior with breath-taking exposed ceiling beams was a vast improvement from playing on the open air outdoor rinks. 
Archie Miller, a long-time resident of Lloydminster arrived in 1903 and volunteered with many service groups. 
He was a sports enthusiast and a great skater.  One of his many accolades was owning the first radio in Lloydminster, further increasing his popularity especially when Hockey Night in Canada was broadcast.
The Centennial Civic Centre with its artificial ice surface offered much needed warmth to Lloydminster’s indoor ice sports. 
Presently serving as a venue for various social functions in the community, it was originally built in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s centennial. 
Born in 1904, Russ Robertson had a number of occupations including teaching, working for a rural municipality, running a grocery store and starting an oil company. 
He was elected to city council in 1950, served as city commissioner from 1958-1972 and mayor from 1973-1979. 
As an active volunteer with many service groups, he especially enjoyed coaching junior baseball and hockey. Russ is quoted as saying, “I always looked upon athletics as a great teacher in life.  Sport taught me many things I never would have learned anywhere else.” 
Situated on a joint development site, the Russ Robertson Arena opened in 1977 to honour his many contributions to sports history.
By now, passionate hockey fans (me included) are restless for pre-season to begin.
For those of us that grew up with a backyard skating rink, we had our own version of a Zamboni; plastic shovels with a wooden handle combined with a great deal of pushing snow, a whole lot of grunting and cold feet.
It was well worth it though, in anticipation of playing back yard hockey and shooting the frozen puck; all before the echoing call for “supper.”
Team colours, jersey styles and players’ names have changed over the years, but they are still fondly remembered as the past draws us in.

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