Monday, January 17, 2011

Willibrord Park: How COOL is This Logo on Our Old Ice Rink

                        The rink rats of Verdun weren't going to wait for the official opening of the borough's new ice.

When Canadiens executives and politicians assembled for the opening ceremony Friday afternoon, there was physical evidence -small black marks on the new rink boards -to suggest slapshots had preceded speeches. And you don't need CSI Verdun to conclude that before the dignitaries showed up, person or persons unknown had been pucking around.

Which is the point. The Canadiens Children's Foundation has been building rinks in the city's less-advantaged neighbourhoods as part of Bleu Blanc Bouge, a program to get kids moving and enjoying the pleasure and health benefits of outdoor hockey.

Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill was having a good time at the launch. Standing about 6'9" in skates, Gill bent over to take the hand of a young girl, steadying her uncertain strides on a few circuits of the new ice. Then Gill played pied piper to about a dozen kids, whizzing around the rink and through the camera crews and media scrums.

Gill is from Concord, the small town in Massachusetts where the first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. He learned to skate on a pond, and Gill told a radio interviewer at the rink opening that Montrealers were lucky to be living in a climate that offered a long season of outdoor hockey.

And just in case global warming renders us unlucky, the new rink has a cooling system that guarantees skating from the end of November until mid-March.

The Willibrord Park facility is the third built by the Canadiens Children's Foundation. Like its predecessors in the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Park Extension and Montreal North boroughs, the rink is state-of-the-outdoor-art: a $1-million facility featuring a skating surface built to the 200-by-85-foot dimensions of the Bell Centre, with the familiar CH logo at centre ice.

Gill and three teammates -Mathieu Darche, Benoit Pouliot and Alexandre Picard -were joined by Canadiens alum Rejean Houle and two skating mascots, Youppi! and a giant brown bear, cutesy-poo name unknown, who is the friendly, furry face of the Montreal police department. A few cops also laced up and joined the skating party on a chilly but sun-splashed afternoon.

Verdun has a rich hockey history. The area produced Donnie Marshall, who played for the dynastic Canadiens of the 1950s, and Scotty Bowman, who coached the team to four Stanley Cups in the '70s.

The game has come a long way since kids used Eaton's catalogues as shin guards and Maurice Richard honed his skills on an outdoor rink in Lafontaine Park. Most 21stcentury organized hockey is played indoors, and the equipment is more expensive than the defunct department store's free mailings.

The Bleu Blanc Bouge program may help inspire a future Canadien.

But the team's community outreach is about fun, not player development.

Canadiens owner Geoff Molson, who was on hand for the Verdun rink opening, grew up on Wood Ave. and recalls playing on the nearby rinkatthecornerof SherbrookeSt.

"When my homework was done, my parents let me go out and skate," Molson said, recalling a regimen that produces more owners than players. More youngsters are in organized and indoor leagues, but, Molson said, "the rinks are still there, and kids are out skating."

"There may be a little bit less of it," Molson added, "but my kids still ask to go to the outdoor rink on a regular basis, and there's lots of others out there."

Having grown up in a family that has been associated with the Canadiens for a good part of the team's glorious history, Molson is aware of the legends, players who "played eight hours a day on outdoor rinks and used that as an explanation for their talents."

"But it's a different game now. Coaching has become more and more important."

The Canadiens are not sending Jacques Martin down to Willibrord Park to teach the kids defensive hockey. But through the generosity of Bauer -one of the program's partners, along with Hockey Canada and the FTQ Solidarity Fund - the Willibrord kids are getting 100 sets of skates, helmets and sticks.

Barry Lorenzetti, a Hockey Canada official who grew up in Cote St. Paul, "Mario Lemieux country," said 65 per cent of the hockey rinks in Canada are more than 40 years old and praised the Canadiens' program as an admirable infrastructure initiative.

"You go into rinks and see asbestos leaking," Lorenzetti lamented. "It's not a safe environment.

"It's great to be at the opening of a new rink," he added. "But it's up to municipalities to find the money to maintain rinks, going forward."

Next step for the Bleu Blanc Bouge program: new ice in LaSalle, opening next winter.

            Have Fun & Remember Verdun & Thanks to the Montreal Canadiens & Molson Family
 a lot of kids are going to have a ball.........Can You Imagine ?    


Les F said...

Click on the Photo's for a Larger Version:
That is one cool logo right dead center of our old rink.....Wow. Cheers!! HF&RV

Les F said...

Now this paragraph is pretty cool too: look what these partner company's are going to do for some kids from Verdun............................I never had a pair of new skates until i moved here to the Westcoast..........hahahahhaha
The Canadiens are not sending Jacques Martin down to Willibrord Park to teach the kids defensive hockey. But through the generosity of Bauer -one of the program's partners, along with Hockey Canada and the FTQ Solidarity Fund - the Willibrord kids are getting 100 sets of skates, helmets and sticks.

Have Fun and Remember Verdun

john allison said...

Cool is the word. What a gift to the city and the kids and parents as well. That will be in their memory bank for sure...

Guy Billard said...

The Wiilibrord park was a regular place for us kids to play hockey in the winter and all kinds of sports in the summer. We also played on the large cannon that was at the corner of Verdun and Willibrord. We also climbed the large trees wich are now gone to allow the construction of the city hall. I go by there regularly wich brings back memories of my growing up in Verdun. Check out the 4 photos in my album no. 50 on Willibrord park.

Les F said...

Also the playground behind the city hall & immediately behind the shack / chalet building for the rink side part of the park used to be where the milkman would stop & give us kids free milk,if you were quick enough you got there first to get the coldest of the batch.... They also had park monitors in the summer who would be in charge of lending out the old wooden stilts to play on,plus the swings were made of nice chain & wood seats embedded in concrete so if you fell off you essentially learned not to do that again.........hahahahaha Now adays we coddle the kids with plastic everything & god forbid they play on anything if you wanted to get a swing at lunch time ,when we headed to the park from Willibrord school,you climbed the fence closest to the City Hall & Willibrod side and jumped & ran to secure a swing. Becasue if you walked all the way up to the gate to get in the playground ,you would not get a swing.that simple, it was a right of passage, HF&RV

Les F said...

Here is the Bleu,Blanc,Rouge -Verdun Skating Rink schedule having started on the 16th of January 2011 It is a PDF file so you can increase the size of print etc etc

Les F said...

and from the CTV site (since we just mentioned CFCF 50th coming up,)
Updated: Fri Jan. 14 2011 12:52:06 PM

VERDUN — The Montreal Canadiens are inaugurating their third "Bleu, Blanc, Bouge" rink Friday.

The outdoor refrigerated skating rink is in Willibrord Park in Verdun, and will be open year-round.

Thanks to its cooling system young players will be able to skate on ice as early as November, and keep going until March.

The rest of the year the rink will be dedicated to roller hockey.

Over the past two years the Canadiens have constructed similar outdoor rinks in St. Michel and Montreal North, and there are plans to build a fourth Bleu, Blanc, Bouge rink next year in LaSalle.
I cannot fathom this being an all year round refrigerated outdoor rink ,not with the heat & humidity of Montreal / Verdun HOT Summers..............but if it is, then Wow again,it would be fun to go for a skate on a summer night (after a couple of cool ones.........hahahaha) Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

Ok I just re-read the story, it is the park that's open all year ( it always was) However skating as early as November and as late as March .....Ok that makes more sense, and gives more time walk the boardwalk on a Summer Night
Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

These photos are Courtesy of Guy, They are in his photo album #50 ( Yup # 50, and there are plenty more interesting photos on his site ,so wander over & have a look) I suggest we should all periodically have a look at the other members' sites too......although I can't say I always practice what I preach,as I have not been visitng all the others either.)
Again here is the slide show version of Guy's Willibrord Park Album (4 photos which I suggest you view ,using the Full Screen function Also control the speed of the show,plus pause on any photo to have a good look,...........Cheers !! HF&RV

Thanks Guy for the use of your photos:

Diane Roberts said...

WOW! I just love it! Feel like jumping on a plane and heading "home" to skate that rink! Would probably break a leg, but it would be worth a try! Willibrord Park was my second home during the winter...skating every day after school and all weekend. In the warmer weather the playground was my destination with those old metal Jungle Jim bars that we would show off on by hanging upside down etc. Poor kids today don't even get a chance to have such fun as it's considered too dangerous! We sure were lucky little Verdunites!...Diane

Guy Billard said...

Can you explaint to me how to make a slide show. I have some new photos of the Willibrord park I would like to post.

Les F said...

Yes of course Guy, it really has become even more easy on Mutiply . All you have to do now,is make a photo album (like you have been doing all along) and then look at the very bottom right hand side after you open an album or any photo .......You should see a few choices across the bottom immediately below your album ,one of the choices should say 'Share' click on this & it should show you several 'Embed' choices,.....the first being Embed link for this Album, ...right click your cursor over this embed code,then 'copy & paste it ' in whichever comment window you like.
This works for most all of your needs here.
The same can be accomplished via most web sites ,by looking for the 'Share' (or something like this) & follow the instructions...Really quite easy ,once done a few times, Ask any questions if you have a problem doing this, & I will do what I can to help (if I know how) . Good Luck Guy Feel Free to ask any questions you like & someone will likely help..........Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

Oh by the way Guy, if you ad your new Willibrord photo's to your existing album they will appear in the slide show already posted. But I would suggest ,that if you add them to your exisiting Willibrord Park album,then just 'share the whole album again in anew comment/ reply window & Voila they will show all the well as update the thread & appear in the 'In Box' as a new entry
Cheers !! HF&RV

Guy Billard said...

OK now I understand. However it would be more convenient if we could post a slideshow also when posting a new topic, or maybe there is a way that you will divulge. Now that I have mastered the slideshow option I will use it more often in the future so as to share my years of accumulating all those Verdun photos.
I have posted my complete album no. 50 on the Willibrord park but as you can see I also posted the city hall and the war memorial while in the area. I am hoping to also share more photos of the inauguration by important diginaties such ass the Molsons and other hockey players wich was held on the weekend and the photos where taken by another member of our association (SHGV). I also visited the archivist at city hall and gave him a copy of my research and my illustration of the Queen's Park. Of course he is also amazed that such a large project as a velodrome containing over 8000 seats at the end of the 19th century in a village of lest than 2000 inhabitants would have been host to an international world's meet bicycle race, that's why i am also passionate about the subject wich I am trying to transmit to other Verdunites and ex-Verdunites. However, I doubt that the project was a financial success.

Les F said...

Your efforts are always appreciated Guy, it's amazing the things we learn,..all the time. Like they say we learn something new everyday. Glad you mastered the slideshow option, as for the Topic Window,it usually requires a different 'embed code' than what's readily offered on most sites.
Also if you come across a Youtube video that you want to share here or even copy to your own site,then you cannot just use the first 'embed code' that they offer,because it contains javascript,which is not supported on Multiply,however if you scroll down a little below the first embed code,you will see a box you can 'check' which will then give you the old 'embed code' and you can then post to whichever site you like. Most sites are fairly strait forward,but some use different methods for sharing & some sites quite simply offer no sharing optionm ( but there are ways around that Again thanks for your input always appreciated. Cheers !! HF&RV

Incidentally many of our members have photos & videos etc etc ,I encourage all of you reading this to p[ost them here on the main VC site,for everyone to share in. I can do it,but it's always nice to have the member themselves particpate too.................. There are some really good photos & vids out there.....

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Guy Billard said...

That article is most likely based on an article from a newspaper. you usually specify the name. Can you specify wich one.

Les F said...

I am not sure now Guiy, that was 6 months ago, However I would imagine it was most likely from an article in the Montreal Gazette,?? or it could have been CTV site ? If I can come up with the info I will relay it to you. HF&RV

Les F said...
when you click on the above link it brings you to a page which shows a link to the Gazette Story of Jan 17th,2011. However when you click on that link,it shows an Error Page not Available. Si I guess the Gazette nolonger is storing this article in their archives? Good thing it's printed here. HF&RV