Hockey has always been a go-to sport for Canadians. All you need to play is a puck, a stick, skates and ice. As far as a rink is concerned, ice is easy enough to find here in the Great White North. Even early settlers enjoyed playing hockey. Let’s look at Brougham, where both winter and summer sports were popular. Once Brougham Creek froze for the winter, it would be flocked with people skating. The younger people of the community played hockey on the creek and other crude “rinks” until the fair grounds were converted into a closed rink. It eventually closed along with the fair and became a part of the United Church.
A notable rink in Brougham’s history is the one built by Frank Sanderson. Constructed out of old barn timber, it was 140’ in length and 40’ in width. It was quite advanced for the time, having both men’s and women’s dressing rooms and tiers of seats for spectators. Carnivals would be held at the rink twice monthly. The residents of Brougham often competed for prizes such as best or worst dressed. They would also feature skating races such as the Barrel Race and the Old Man’s Smoking Race. The carnivals often had a band playing and citizens would dress in costume to attend. In 1902, the roof of the rink collapsed due to heavy snow. It was repaired but collapsed a second and final time in 1914. Several open air rinks were built over the following decades, none lasting for more than 4 or 5 seasons. As such, Brougham has not had an established rink since 1927. Hockey was still popular and Brougham has had numerous hockey teams. Often the teams would enter into minor league competitions. During the war years, hockey would be put on standstill, but always seemed to gain back popularity. Today, the children of Brougham still enjoy hockey through house league organizations. It is, after all, the best game you can name. And to diehard Canadians, it always has been and always will be.