Veteran roller skater laments loss of iconic Calgary rink, but hopes to lace up again

A Calgary man is heartbroken at the loss of an iconic roller skating rink, but he’s hoping it won’t be the last time he laces up after Lloyd's closes permanently this weekend.

'It’s a heartbreak that the city is losing it,' longtime roller skater Terry Roberts says

Lloyd's roller rink in Calgary opened more than 50 years ago, but this Sunday it closes its doors for good. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

A Calgary man is heartbroken at the loss of an iconic roller skating rink, but he's hoping it won't be the last time he laces up indoors after Lloyd's closes permanently this weekend.

The rink has a special place in the hearts of many of the longtime users, but especially for those members of the dance and speed clubs that operated out of the rink.

A retro look at the former dance and speed clubs that operated out of Lloyd's roller rink. (Submitted by Terry Roberts)

Terry Roberts first laced up his roller skates at the tender age of 15, taking to the track for the speed club. Similar to short-track speed skating on ice, clubs would compete across Canada with their roller skates on indoor tracks — all vying to be the fastest.

He says it's a heartbreak that the city is losing it.

"Not just for myself and my history, but for all the generations coming up," said Roberts.

Veteran roller skater Terry Roberts, left, says he's been skating for 44 years. (Submitted by Terry Roberts)

"Highlighted by the fact that it still has high attendance, especially on weekends. It's a testament to it's done well."

Lloyd's opened 53 years ago, but times and tastes have changed, and with the passing of one of the owners, the property was sold. This Sunday the rink will close for good.

Roberts has been skating at the rink for the past 44 years. 

"Lloyd and Flo treated us really good for all those years," he said of the couple who started it all.

Over the years, many have changed from roller skating indoors to roller blading in the great outdoors. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

"We were the top team in Canada every year. We were never defeated except by our own people.... It was all a good time, but you leave a lot of skin on that floor," he said.

He says the rink became a meeting place for friends, friends whom he remains connected to all these years later.

"Everybody that I used to hang out with, I still hang out with," Roberts said.

Terry Roberts, front, poses with other members of the Calgary Roller Speed Club (and dance club) when they reunited for a skate on Feb. 10. (Submitted by Terry Roberts)

As times changed, so have recreational activities. Smartphones and social media weren't a thing back then. And roller skating — to some degree — has gone outdoors, especially as roller blades grew in popularity.

"A lot of kids have gone to inline blades, which is a whole different category.... The roller rinks have been closing left, right and centre," he said.

There's been a few last-skate parties at Lloyd's since the closure was announced, including one last weekend that Roberts was able to make.

Since Lloyds roller rink announced it was closing for good, some weekends have seen people lined up around the corner as Calgarians tried to get in one last skate. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

The lineup that Saturday night wrapped from the main door to around the corner of the building. And as you entered the room, the blast of music, smell of sweat and party lights was overwhelming. People were everywhere, but they all seemed to be having a blast.

Roberts says he will miss "getting to see the people you didn't see as often" the most.

"Friends that don't come out as often, but do for events. There aren't any more events. There will be no more anniversaries and things like that."

Kim Sinclair skates it up in this photo from one of the club's meetups in the past. (Submitted by Terry Roberts)

But all may not be lost, if Roberts gets his wish.

"There's a group right now trying to raise funds to open a new rink," he said.

"I am hopeful that that is what's going to occur, but I have a wonderful set of street skates and I use those during the summer outside. You got to do what you got to do."

The last skate at Lloyd's Recreation is on Sunday between 1 and 6 p.m.

Lloyd's did allow both roller blading and roller skating at the rink located on Macleod Trail south. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)
The group would often meet up at Lloyd's and reminisce with longtime staff members. (Submitted by Terry Roberts)
The Calgary Roller Speed Club ran out of the Cargo Canada Building, besides the current Lloyd's location, before moving over to the iconic roller rink. (Submitted by Terry Roberts)

With files from Rachel Maclean