Montreal·Out of the Dark

Move over backyard rink, this family built their own arena in an old barn

A family on Quebec City's south shore decided that if they couldn't bring their kids to the arena, they'd bring the arena to the kids, installing an 18 X 19 metre hockey rink in an old dairy barn.

Lapierre family getting exclusive ice-time at 'Lapi Stadium' in Bellechasse

Sylvain Lapierre, Myriam Goulet and their children, Étienne and Rosalie, go out for a game of hockey nearly every evening after dinner. (Julia Page/CBC)

Sylvain Lapierre dreamed of having a skating rink in his backyard when he was a boy.

He didn't get his wish but the 42-year-old was able to make it happen for his two children, Rosalie and Étienne, who are now spending their evenings skating inside their very own hockey arena.

The 18 by 19 metre rink sits inside an old barn on the family egg farm in Saint-Gervais, 40 kilometres south of Quebec City.

Lapierre bought the building from his uncle. Starting last fall, he spent more than 300 hours, with the help of his father Donald, tearing out the old cow stalls, breaking up the concrete and paving a brand new floor inside the building.

"The main goal is to have a warehouse, but for now it's all ice," said Lapierre.

Having a roof over the rink has allowed Lapi Stadium to preserve pristine conditions, despite the warm temperatures in the Quebec City region over the holiday period. (Julia Page/CBC)

Étienne, 10, and Rosalie, eight, both play in hockey leagues. Last March, when team sports were cancelled because of the pandemic, the children lost out not only on the sport they loved, but also on the friendships that come with hockey.

"Many of Étienne's teammates are from other towns," said Lapierre. All of a sudden, he couldn't see them any more, not even at school.

"You work hard all season and then in March everything stopped — so it was hard on the kids."

​Lapi Stadium​

​During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, Lapierre saw his children playing hockey on a small frozen pond outside their house.

That's when he got the idea of transforming the barn that used to house his grandfather's dairy cows into a hockey rink.

The stable used to belong to Lapierre's grandfather, who had a dairy farm. (Julia Page/CBC)

His partner, Myriam Goulet, had to be won over.

"I was really skeptical," Goulet admits. "I didn't think that it was going to work and I'm really surprised that it is working!"

But the work went ahead and Goulet ended up finding the nickname for the rink  — Lapi Stadium. 

Lapi is Lapierre's nickname in his own sports leagues.

"And I thought of a stadium because this isn't the first time he's come up with these grand ideas," said Goulet.

The family spent roughly 300 hours transforming the old stable into an ice rink. (Submitted by Sylvain Lapierre)

The family started digging up the floor with heavy machinery in October. The first official face-off happened just before Christmas.

"We took some pictures and we played a game — just the four of us," said Goulet. "It was great."

The family now goes out practically every evening after dinner to shoot some pucks — making them the envy of many friends and family.

"People were stopping by the side of the road to take pictures," said Lapierre, aware of the luxury his family is able to enjoy.

Sylvain Lapierre wanted to make sure his children Étienne and Rosalie could still play hockey even though their hockey leagues were cancelled, because of COVID-19 restrictions. (Julia Page/CBC)

Families across Quebec are having to line up and limit their ice-time because of the increased demand for outdoor sporting venues.

Lapierre is thankful he has been able to keep his kids busy and physically active.

"As parents, we want the kids do what they love," he said. 

From the outside, Lapi Stadium looks like any farm building. But inside, it's become a haven for the Lapierre family in Saint-Gervais, Quebec. (Julia Page/CBC)

That will still be the case in the spring when the ice melts. Lapierre intends to continue using the warehouse to practice softball and badminton, two other sports his kids are fond of. 

And the whole family is looking forward to being able to add players to the roster eventually and even hold parties inside the giant space.

"We love our evenings — on the weekends we come here and play hockey together," said Lapierre.

When his kids grow up, he hopes they'll look back on the pandemic with some good memories, of the time they had their own private hockey rink.

"I hope they will remember that — I think they will."


This story is part of a special CBC Quebec project Out of the Dark: Real Talk on Mental Health. If you are having a hard time coping, here are some resources that could help.

If you are in crisis or know someone who is, here is where to get help:

  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text, 4 p.m. to midnight ET only) crisisservicescanada.ca

  • In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

  • Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now