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'Wonderful, good memories': North Rustico residents bid farewell to North Star Arena

North Rustico residents gathered one final time at the arena, which for five decades has been an important landmark for the community. 

Demolition of 50-year-old arena set to begin next week

The North Star Arena in North Rustico has officially closed its doors. The arena was built in 1970. (CBC/Sheehan Desjardins)

The North Star Arena has officially closed its doors.

On Thursday, North Rustico residents gathered one final time at the sporting facility, which for five decades has been an important landmark for the community. 

Demolition is expected to begin next week, with operations moving to the new community rink and outdoor centre next door.

Giles Gallant's father helped build the original facility in 1970. Gallant was a frequent spectator in the arena, and at one point even managed a hockey team that played there regularly.

 

"It was good excitement for the whole community," he said. "You would hear the fans ... When you scored a goal, you knew it."

For the first 15 years of its existence the arena had natural ice, which means the rink could only be used during the coldest months of the year. 

That was until 1985, when the community raised the funds needed to solve the problem. 

A newspaper clipping from the time the new artificial ice was installed in the arena. (CBC/Sheehan Desjardins)

Arthur Pendergast, who was then a parish priest in the community, said that change made a big difference, allowing for athletic programs to expand and for North Rustico children to grow up playing hockey at the arena.

'Good memories'

"We had three young boys — I guess they're not young anymore. All three were involved in hockey," said Jacinta Doiron.

"It's given them the opportunity to engage in teamwork, cooperation, they've met a lot of wonderful people. We have had a lot of wonderful, good memories here."

Keera Vos, Celeste Maynard and Regan Sentner have been playing at the arena for a decade as part of the Rustico Ringette Association's original eight players. (CBC/Sheehan Desjardins)

Keera Vos is one of the eight players who first joined the Rustico Ringette Association when it was formed 10 years ago. Her team played their last game in the arena on Wednesday.

Vos said her favourite memory in the arena was the support she got from her teammates no matter how behind they were.

"We always were kind of the losing team, but we'd be losing seven-nothing and they'd be still like cheering on the bench," she said. "We just never gave up."

"The positive attitude, that was definitely a trademark of the Rustico team," said teammate Celeste Maynard. "We'd always be down but we'd always be cheering the loudest."

"It's given me so many opportunities to volunteer," said Regan Sentner. "I coach the U8 team, so it's kind of cool that I've been able to give back and that's definitely helped me become who I am today."

Construction of the facility that will replace the North Star Arena is slated to finish by September.

The community has raised about $2.1 million for the project. 

Gallant said that while he will always remember the arena, he understands why the old building had to be replaced.

"This building served its purpose," he said.

With files from Sheehan Desjardins

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