December 1947 Almonte Gazette
The open air rink to be built in Gemmill Park has cost the taxpayers of Almonte $908.00 up to the present -time and will cost considerably more before it finished was the unwelcome news unfolded before the Council at its meeting on Tuesday night. This large sum of money is made up of two items—$563 for work done by Harry Metcalfe’s bulldozer in levelling the site chosen by the Committee and $345 for lumber and other material.
The rink has been an unfortunate project from the start so far as the Council is concerned. There was considerable criticism over the site selected. Unofficial and some semi-official critics who have viewed the large area composing Gemmill Park (98 acres) express astonishment that the Council Rink Committee and the Parks Commission should pick on a spot which would require the expenditure of $563 to make it level. In doing this those responsible not only ran into difficulties in preparing the terrain for flooding but raised the animosity of the Roman Catholic community by locating the rink so close, to the convent that it may be a nuisance to the sisters of St. Joseph.
It is said by those opposed to the site chosen that the rink could have been put out in the middle of a field which was already level or so nearly level that it would cost little to make it satisfactory for flooding. Others feel that as it is to be a temporary expendient —so it is hoped—the rink might have been put on the town hall lawn a second time. Argument against this latter alternative is that the ice sheet there would not be large enough for hockey. Maybe Illegal.
There are citizens of the town with considerable municipal experience who feel that the building of a rink is ultra vires so far as a municipal council’s authority goes. They say a town council has no right to engage in private enterprises such as building rinks any more than it would have to build a large dance hall or bowling alley. If this contention is correct then the money spent on the open air rink has been expended illegally.
Gemmil Park, a true testament to the devotion to physical activity in the town. At any time, in any season you will find someone in the Park. Tennis courts, track, soccer fields, football field, play structure, baseball diamond, horshoe pits, basketball courts and the recently added skateboard ramp. The hills beyond the tennis court are the site of winter fun; sledding here is the ultimate.
John Gemmil, prominent town citizen, once owned a stately home and farm where the park is today. After his death, the property passed to his daughter Winifred Gemmil. Upon her death in 1943 the farm or Homestead was bequeathed to the town of Almonte that they might “construct, establish and maintain a Public Park or Recreation Ground.”
Prior to this park being established numerous other sites through out the town had been used as playgrounds. The most used field in town was the N.L.A.S (North Lanark Agricultural Society ) grounds on Water Street in Almonte. The field was large and the grandstands provided good seats for spectators. In the 1920’s and 1930’s sporting events were typically played on McCallum’s Sports Field.
The Almonte Arena where it stands today, near Gemmil Park, was opened in 1950. Through the years it has seen its share of activity. Hockey players, Broomball players, Figure Skaters, Ringette Players, call this there second home in winter months. Roller hockey and ball hockey enthusiasts use the surface in the summer months