Back in Time: Upgrading Flin Flon's early social scene

No matter how much people work, they need somewhere to blow off steam. It may be a dance hall, a restaurant or a local sports facility. In Flin Flon, there have been many different places in use over the years. These are the stories of just a few of them from the early years of the community.

Since 1929, the community of Flin Flon had been using the curling rink on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the first rink was torn down in the name of progress - in order to build a railway station. At the time, there was an enclosed hockey and skating rink just off Main Street. With the loss of the curling rink, it was decided in 1934 to look at creating a combined skating, hockey and curling rink. It was decided that the current enclosed rink would be rebuilt as a combined arena.

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Mort Campbell, president of the curling club at the time, worked with the rink committee to get the arena built. On Jan. 12, 1935, his work was rewarded when Premier John Bracken came out to declare the new sports facility in Flin Flon open. Before long, the curling club was interested in getting a new facility and, in 1941, a curling rink was built on Ross Lake Island. The new three sheets of ice in the community was hoped to alleviate the stress on the membership of the Flin Flon Curling Club and the growing number of curlers. On Nov. 27, 1941, Mayor Orson Wright threw the first stone down the ice of the new curling rink. The love of curling continued in Flin Flon and in 1947, three sheets of curling ice were added to each rink at Uptown and Ross Lake to accommodate the District MacDonald Brier Curling Playoffs. In addition, 123 curling rocks were shipped in from Scotland. Three years later, a new four-sheet curling rink was built at the Willowvale subdivision and the new curling club boasted a membership of 200 people. With three branch clubs in the community, the three came together in 1950 to collaborate on organizing bonspiels.

In that same year, 1950, a new artificial ice plant was built into the main skating arena. In 1960, the main arena was demolished so that a new 2,000 seat arena with a heated interior could be built. That new facility opened on Oct. 15, 1960.

Not everyone wanted to watch sports - many residents loved to dance. To help people dance the night away, the company dining hall was turned over to the community club to be used as a ladies’ club and dance hall. The dance hall was given the name Jubilee Hall in honour of the Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary. Sadly, it burned to the ground before it could ever open.

Not wanting to be without a place to dance and socialize, the people of the community came together to get a dance hall built. Earning the name of Jubilee Hall in honour of the former building, it would be used until 1967 when it was demolished to build a parking lot. The facility was used for several important events, including serving as the reception hall for the visit by the Governor General in 1957 and the Memorial Cup banquet for the Flin Flon Bombers.

In 1955, it was decided that a new community hall was needed in Flin Flon. On Feb. 18, 1956, the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company demolished the old community hall. Construction began on Oct. 1, 1956 and the facility was opened in February 1958. This new hall was one-and-a-half times the size of the previous hall. The auditorium in the hall was named after R.H. Channing and a meeting room was named in honour of W.A. Green.

Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at crwbaird@gmail.com. Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast platform. Find his show on YouTube by searching for“Canadian History Ehx”. Information for this column comes fromFlin Flon.

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