Rink Rat & Little Richard - Monty

by March 09, 2017 0 comments
Monty sent this email.

The arena opened when I was about 9 years old.  My Grandfather lived in an apartment block on the corner of 43rd & West Blvd and he bought me my first skates.  

This photo - taken in 1950 - shows The new Arena and Point Grey School. (vintage air photos)

I loved public skating, I never really played hockey. I spent my Sunday mornings (instead of going to Sunday School at Ryerson where my Mom had sent me) watching Beer League Hockey and talking my way into helping clean the ice as none of the older Rink Rats* would show up on Sundays. Finally when I was 12, I convinced the ice maintenance guy, George Tough, (he became a Vancouver city cop) that I could be a "professional" paid Rink Rat for 25 cents per scrape (four guys were paid 25 cents per scrape or the whole dollar if only one guy was there - like on Sunday mornings ). There were 8 Rink Rats and the first 4 to sign in were paid. My sign in was 'Cordink' and I once got two pay envelopes, one for Monty and one for Cordink! We were all just school kids who loved to skate and hang around the Arena. After skating many of us would head to The Avenue Grill! I got to watch and clean the ice for the Kerrisdale Monarchs Hockey team (vs Vernon and Penticton).

Because we were Arena staff, the door man would just let us into events. We had our own change room at the Arena so we could just stand at the top of the seats and look important. I saw Bill Haley and some time later we saw Little Richard! Both times was after the ice was out and we helped set up rows of chairs on the floor. Tickets were sold for stand seats and floor seats. Bill Haley played on a stage. Little Richard also performed on the stage but he moved up and down the centre floor isle as well. They both sang all their current popular songs of the day... they had quite a few! The shows were at 7pm and lasted for a good 90 minutes. Everyone in the audience was behaved.

Little Richard

I met many girls public skating and chatted up many a young figure skater as I was alway there during non school hours to clean their ice - special for patch**. I was a winter Rink Rat until I was 18 and when the Zamboni came along I copped*** public skating until I was 20. My association with the rink allowed me to get into Saturday morning Public Skating and when I was 22 and my first born was 2 he also learned to skate.

When I was 24 we moved to Kelowna and when I walked into their Memorial Arena (opened one year after the Kerrisdale Arena) it had the exact architectural plan as Kerrisdale: dressing room locations; concessions; and those big, steep entrance inclines to the top of the seating area.

Kerrisdale Arena's steep entrance incline.

I remember people like Mr Elliot Manager (he played rock and roll music during the Friday Night Public Skate) & Harry the engineer. Bruce Graham became the Ice Maintenance guy after George Tough. I remember the tractor and the planer**** - and my favourite job was holding the planer back on the corners in the middle of public skating breaks when I had an audience!

I owe my association with the arena to keeping me out of a lot of possible trouble on the streets of Kerrisdale during my teen years.

* In a time before the Zamboni, Rink Rats would hang around the Arena and clean the ice in between events (public skating, hockey, figure skating). A 'scraper' was pushed around the ice to clear the snow off and then the 'ice man' (arena employee) would hook up a hose with hot water to a large 'hot pad' and drag it - walking backwards - over the now snowless scraped ice.  A Rink Rat would pull the hose behind the pad to help the ice man. 

** Patch was when figure skaters were allotted a certain section of ice to practice their figures (for instance figure 8's). They needed 'new' ice in order to see their markings of their inside and outside edges - to see how they were doing. After an hour they would do their pirouettes.

***During public skating an adultish person would skate and patrol to keep the speedsters in check. Thus we were 'ice cops'. When the Zamboni eliminated Rink Rats in about 1959, I was 18 and pretty experienced with conduct on the ice, so I was paid for 2 more years at evening and Saturday public skating even though I now had a full time day job.

****The tractor pulled the planer which was used when heavy use was cutting up the ice (public skating and senior hockey). The planer had a sharp razor type blade that trimmed the ice. The planer had to be held back (braked) as the tractor entered each turn as it went around the ice surface. A good skater Rink Rat would do this braking job, then after that was done, that Rink Rat would join the 3 others to clear the snow off before the hot-pad was brought out. The Zamboni eliminated: Rink Rats, Tractors, Planers & Hot Pads. The Arena just needed one person: the Ice Man....BOO HOO!

Arena Rock


Interested in people and history. And fun.