Memorial Arena - Kamloops, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 50° 40.553 W 120° 19.388
10U E 689126 N 5617201
Completed in 1949, the Memorial Arena, like those of a great many towns and cities in Canada, was built as a memorial to those soldiers who never returned from war. It is used as much today as it was on the day it opened.
Waymark Code: WM13271
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 08/30/2020
Views: 2

Located at 740 Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops, Memorial Arena (80 ft x 190 ft) has change rooms, officials room, storage, office space and full bowl bench seating for more than 2,500.

The arena opened to the public in 1949 and although there is no elevator in the building, both levels are wheelchair accessible. Street parking is available along Victoria St and neighbouring streets.

To the left of the main entrance is a bronze dedication plaque, while to the right is this historical marker, which imparts a slice of the arena's story.

Following is text from the historical marker at the building.
Memorial Arena
Kamloops Memorial Arena was built to honour local World War II soldiers. The Kamloops and District Memorial Recreational Society incorporated in 1945 with the mandate to raise funds for a new memorial sports arena. A country wide raffle and local fundraising efforts raised $173,000 of the $220,006 needed. The municipality borrowed the remaining funds to complete the project.

Construction began in August 1948 and was completed in May 1949. The arena was by no means an architectural masterpiece. It was fondly called the "old barn" by local residents. The seats were hard and the building was cold. But the rich store of community memories the old building has amassed over the years makes it one of.the most popular and beloved sites in the downtown. The Memorial Arena is still used today for hockey games and practices by all levels and ages of recreational and organized hockey. Even the local Western Hockey League team [The Kamloops Blazers] takes the occasional turn in the old building. But it is the plaque on the arena wall which gives enduring significance to the arena:

"Erected by the citizens of Kamloops and District to those who lived and in grateful memory of those who died in defence of their country. Dedicated in 1949."
Memorial Arena
The Memorial Arena is a large concrete and steel sports arena with a high dual-pitched roof, centrally located on Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops. A horizontal entry pavilion clad in red brick with clerestory ribbon windows faces the street, with a dedicatory bronze plaque centred on the exterior wall between the two main entryways. The arena seats approximately 2,700 people and is utilized by organized and recreational sports teams.

Built in 1948-49 and dedicated on November 11, 1949, the Memorial Arena is significant as a representation of community efforts to commemorate lost soldiers, build community pride and construct new recreational facilities in Kamloops at the end of World War Two. Its construction at that time also reflects increasing population growth as troops returned to the area, and a gradual return to prosperity. Built with funds raised by the Kamloops and District War Memorial Recreational Society, this was the first local artificial ice rink. Originally designed as part of an ambitious larger complex known as Memorial Centre that was to include a swimming pool, curling rink and meeting rooms, the arena was the only portion to be built.

The Memorial Arena is also valued for its association with the development of organized hockey leagues in Kamloops and for its continuous use as a hockey venue. The first organized local hockey leagues were formed after World War One; a Junior league in 1918 and a Senior league in 1919. The Memorial Arena replaced earlier arenas in other parts of Kamloops, and became the primary arena for the Western Canada Hockey League junior hockey teams: the Kamloops Chiefs (1973-1977); the Junior Oilers (1981-1984); and the Kamloops Blazers (established in 1984). Although the Memorial Arena was superseded by the Riverside Coliseum (now the Interior Savings Centre) in 1992, it continues to be actively used by lower-level hockey teams.

Furthermore, the Memorial Arena is a significant example of a large clear-span structure that is representative of the contemporary engineering of its time. Supported on a concrete base, the massive exposed steel truss roof supports heavy timber purlins and a plank roofing deck. The use of timber in the superstructure and red brick on the front façade attests to the presence of local brick and lumber industries. The flat-roofed entry pavilion with its horizontal ribbon windows demonstrates the influence of the International Style that gained popularity in the postwar era.

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Memorial Arena include its:
- location on Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops
- continuous use for public assembly and recreation
- institutional form, scale and massing as expressed by its single-storey height, large rectangular open-span interior space, dual-pitched roof over the arena and flat roof at the entry
- construction materials, including board-formed reinforced concrete used for the foundations and structural piers, concrete block infill walls, massive steel roof trusses, wooden purlins supporting a wooden plank roof, heavy timber end walls and red-brick cladding at the entry
- International Style influences as expressed by the horizontally-proportioned, flat-roofed entry pavilion with wood-frame clerestory ribbon windows
- additional exterior features, such as the bronze dedicatory plaque placed at the centre of the front façade
- interior features, including concrete stands with wooden bench seating, wooden floors and ceilings, and exposed interior structure
From Historic Places Canada
Plaque Mem Arena
Mem Arena Mem Arena
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: Historic Site or Building Marker

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Street parking is available at the arena

What Agency placed the marker?: City of Kamloops

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