Tag Archives: skating rink

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947
The original site of the Almonte Community Centre
Almonte-Photos from Mill of Kintail Conservation Area
Lanark, Ontario

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

Almonte-Photos from Mill of Kintail Conservation Area
Lanark, Ontario

Amanda Pulker-Mok
July 1, 2018  · Almonte  · 

Last stop of the day, the main stage at Gemmill Park and fireworks! Thank you to everyone who organized events this weekend. You all did such a fabulous job! Happy Canada Day!!
— at Gemmill Park Almonte.

Clippings of the Almonte Bombers

So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

The Homestead – a John Dunn story

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils

From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Orchids in Gemmils Swamp June 1901

The Mississippi Curling Rink After “The Island”



An early curling picture from curlinghistory.blogspot.com— This is not from Lanark County- but in the late 1800s they used to curl on an outdoor rink was made on the Mississippi River opposite the fairgrounds



A group of curling enthusiasts formed a club under the name of Mississippi Curling Rink Ltd. They raised funds, acquired a mortgage and built a new three-sheet rink on the “market” facing onto Brae Street, which they rented to the Almonte Curling Club (ACC).


During the summer, negotiations were continuing with the Mississippi Rink Co., Ltd.(see today’s story on the old Almonte rink) But, to the chagrin of ACC members, the company sold the property to a commercial firm and liquidated the Limited company. Therefore, there was no place for the members to curl.


December 16, 1954, The Almonte Gazette

Renovated Rink With Artificial Ice Is Formally Opened By Local Curler’s On Wednesday

Following a short ceremony on Wednesday evening, when veteran curler Mr. J. H. Martin cut the ribbon and president M. R. Young threw the first granite, the Mississippi Curling Club was declared open for its 101st season. Mr. Young presided over a large gathering of members of the men’s and lady’s clubs which filled both rooms. He explained the chain of events leading up to the climax of curling in Almonte, a renovated rink with three sheets of artificial ice, a new second storey club room with a modern kitchen for the ladies and men’s club room newly decorated. ”

When the installation of artificial ice was talked of in April,” said Mr. Young, “this one and that one offered to give $100.00 However another man said “I’ll give a thousand dollars.” and that gave the club the heeded encouragement. He gave credit to canvassers and special praise to the building committee who had given most generously of their time. The building committee is composed of Mr. M. R. Young, chairman, J. L. Erskine, S.R. Sissons, Major J. H. W. Currie, and Murray Comba. The next speaker was Mr. W.A. Metcalfe, who expressed great pleasure in the fact that the Mississippi Curling Club’s greatest need, the installation of artificial ice, was now attained.


Men curling in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1909-Wikiwand

Mr. Metcalfe assured the audience that it was in large measure due to the untiring efforts of their president, Mr. Young, that the present happy state was reached. Mr. Young, he said, had stood by curling in good days and the bad days and is now in his 19th term as president. He called on Mr. James Miller of Carlton Place, District Representative of the Caledonia Club who brought greetings from the mother club and also extended his personal congratulations.

The next speaker was Mr. George L. Comba, who traced the history of the Mississippi Curling Club from its humble beginnings 100 years ago to today. Mr. Comba he was indebted to Mr. G. W. Willoughby of Ottawa, former resident of Almonte, who is now in his 96th year, for much of his information of the early days.

Mr. Willoughby was an ardent curler as was his father before him, and was able to recall many interesting incidents. Curling began here, said Mr. Comba on the mouth of the Indian River and wooden blocks were used as stones. Later, an outdoor rink was made on the Mississippi River opposite the fairgrounds, and the first closed rink was on a site on or near the present fairgrounds.

The next rink was on “The Island” (see today’s story)  a combination building which housed the skating rink as well as the curling rink. That building was outmoded the present structure was then erected at Brae Street. This was operated successfully for a growing membership which brings the club up to date. A point stressed by Mr. Comba that should be of principal pride to local curlers, is that the Mississippi Club stands in 6th place on the roster of the Caledonia Club. He said the present membership has great traditions to maintain, but predicted continued success through co-operation for the next hundred years.



December 16, 1954–During the evening a sing-song was enjoyed with Mrs. Harry Walker at the piano and Mrs. R.A. Jamieson, Mr. Martin Maxwell, and Mr. George Rodger leading. Mrs. Doris DeSadeleer contributed a humorous solo. “This Old Rink Was Getting Shaky” with Mrs. Harry Walker as accompanist. At the close, Mr. Young thanked the Lady’s Club for their efforts and all others who had assisted, with special thanks to Mr. Arthur Lockhart who gave his time in painting free of charge, and also Mr. Charles Finner for bringing his PA system

Almonte Curling Club History-click here

MAYOR GEORGE L. COMBA WHO presided over the civic administration of Almonte during the most depressing period in its history. He will probably be returned to office by acclamation at the nominations Friday nigh

COMBA, George L. – At Almonte on Tuesday, May 21, 1957, George L. Comba, beloved husband of Emily Mason, father of Murray Comba, Almonte; (Emily) Mrs. Donald Blanchard, of Bristol, Quebec; and brother of (Jean) Mrs. David Rankin, Trenton, New Jersey; (Phyllis), Mrs. Emil Zarella of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Charles of Calgary, Alberta, and William of Port Arthur. Resting at his home, Church St., Almonte. Funeral service Friday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the Almonte United Church. Interment Auld Kirk cemetery. Masonic service at his home, Almonte, Thursday evening, May 23, at 8 o’clock. In lieu of lowers please send contributions to Naismith Memorial Hospital Fund.

Ex-Mayor of Almonte, George L. Comba, Passes – A well-known resident and one-time mayor of Almonte, George L. Comba died in hospital Tuesday of last week after a short illness. He was 66. Born in Pakenham, he was a son of the late Charles Comba and Sarah Jane Dunlop. He was educated in Almonte schools. Prior to enlisting in the RAF in the First World War, Mr. Comba was a prospector in British Columbia. While overseas in 1917, he married the former Emily Louise Mason at London, England. He returned to Canada in 1919, and opened a furniture and undertaking business in Almonte. Mr. Comba left the furniture business in 1943, and carried on with the undertaking business with his son. Mr. Comba at one time was mayor and reeve of Almonte and formerly warden of Lanark County. He served as secretary-treasurer of North Lanark Agricultural Society, and had been secretary of Almonte Public School Board and East Lanark High School Area for 37 years. He was honorary president of the Canadian Legion, Almonte Branch, and a charter member of that organization. He was also director of the N.L.A.S. He was a member of the United Church, Granite Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, past patron of Eastern Star, belonged to the Shriners of the Ottawa Temple; was a member of Almonte Curling Club, Almonte Lawn Bowling Club, Gemmill Park Commission and Almonte Library Board. He leaves in addition to his wife, one son, Murray, Almonte; one daughter, Mrs. Don (Emily) Blanchard, Bristol, Quebec;. two brothers, Charles, Calgary, and William H., Port Arthur; two sisters, Mrs. David (Jean) Rankin, Trenton, N.J., and Mrs. Emil (Phyllis) Zarella, Gerard College, Philadelphia. The body rested at the Comba Funeral Home, Almonte, from where the funeral left to Almonte United Church for service at 2 p.m., Friday, May 24. Rev. J. R. Anderson officiated. Burial was in Auld Kirk.


Related reading:

Perth Courier, Feb. 15, 1889

Mr. James Templeton, 85 years of age, while on a visit here, made an appearance at the Perth curling rink and played for a time with much skill.  He has been a curler for 67 years—an ordinary man’s lifetime.

Perth Courier, March 6, 1885

Mr. F. B. Allan was the winner this year of the gold medal presented for the yearly competition by Mr. William Lees, M.P.P. to the Perth Upon Tay Curling Club.


Related reading:

The Almonte Skating Rink on “The Island”


Want to read about the Carleton Place Curling Club?

Facts You Might Not Know About Carleton Place for our 150th Birthday – Part 6– Fire and Ice


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

The Almonte Skating Rink on “The Island”



Screenshot 2017-02-20 at 13.jpg

Photo from the Almonte Gazette


ALMONTE’s Skating and Curling Club January 1903- Almonte Gazette-1903-01-02-08

When Almonte undertakes to do a thing she usually does it well, and when Contractor Donaldson undertakes to do a thing he does it both quickly and well. For the past two or three years the erection of a large rink has been discussed spasmodically, and some preliminary steps towards the accomplishment of that end were undertaken, one of which was the formation of the Almonte Rink Co., but not until this year did things assume practical shape.

Now, however, Almonte is the possessor of what has been pronounced by competent judges to be the best skating and ending rink in the Ottawa Valley. The building, a cut of which is given above, is situated along the bank of the Mississippi river, on the island, between the bridge and the falls above the Rosamond Woolen Co’s, mill, on a site for which- the Rink Co. are largely indebted to Mr. B. Rosamond. It is a very convenient location, easily reached from, any part of the town. The skating rink is 80 x 18 feet, the roof being sustained by seventeen- wooden  arches forty-five feet high, both ends being anchored to the concrete piers upon which they are set, and every pier less than two feet high is anchored to the rock below with 2 inch iron and 1 inch bolts, so that there is no danger to the structure ever moving.

Along each side of the building outside the arches is a lean-to about nine feet wide, which with the platform at each end will give accommodation to nearly 1,500 spectators. Along the sides the platform is in three steps, each one being a foot higher than the one in front of it. This will enable everybody to see what is going on upon the ice.

Between the skating and curling rinks are two waiting rooms, fitted with lockers, etc., for the skaters, a refreshment room and the waiting room for the curlers. Upstairs are dressing rooms for the hockey players with lockers in each, a band stand, and two club rooms. These are reached by a stair from the vestibule of the rink, in which is the ticket office. Even the minutest description of the rink would fail to convey a correct idea of the immense size of the building.

In each of the arches there is nearly one thousand feet of lumber; 165,000 feet of lumber and 210,000 shingles were used in the construction of the rinks, and three tons of nails, including half-a-ton of shingle nails were required in the work. One-and-a-half tons of iron rods and bolts are used to stay the arches and otherwise strengthen the building, and through 1,500 panes of glass the light of the sun enters in. The curling rink, at the south end of the skating rink, is 43 x 143 feet, with a five-foot platform up the centre. This building, too, is set upon concrete piers, as are also the poses in the centre which support the roof.

The rink is well lighted, and ventilated, and is a bright and comfortable building; The curling rink and the waiting rooms are lighted with incandescent lights and the skating link with arc lamps. The contract was given to Mr. J. Donaldson for $4,870 on the 14th of October, ground was broken on the following day, and on the 21th of December the contract was taken off his hands completed. They deserve great credit for the manner in which he rushed the work through, for the quality of material used, and for the  neatness and excellence of the work done. Mr. Win. Hart was overseer of the work and Mr. Geo. Garvrn had charge of the machine work, and upon both of these gentlemen the architect bestowed the warmest praise. Mr. J. P. McLaren, of Ottawa, was the architect.

Peggy Byrne added–“Murray Guthrie skated in this building and they had moccasin dances after – he could tell you a few stories about this relic’.


So Where Was the Ice Palace?

The Old Carleton Place Arena

So What Did You Wear Ice Skating?

Your Carleton Place Trading Card–Meet Number 7 — Brian Trimble

The Figure Skaters of Carleton Place

Skaters Under Ice? Ring That Bell!

Falling Through the Ice- One Reason Indoor Rinks Were Created


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun