Travellers along Highway 95 in the Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia are probably more interested in spotting wildlife or scenic mountain vistas on the road, but one of the more interesting sights in my mind probably can’t be found in any guidebook or visitor guide. Indeed, it lies inconspicuously in a field beside a shut-down elementary school in the rural hamlet of Parson: an old outdoor hockey rink.
Even the smallest of towns in Canada seem to have or have had some sort of hockey surface. Who knows what tales this old rink could tell? It certainly could use a little love; grass is starting to poke through the asphalt. At least the east end seems to be getting some use; someone’s erected a tennis net in the corner. My friends and I half-jokingly started a discussion about driving to Parson with full hockey gear one day just so we can say we played that rink. Where else could you get the opportunity to play hockey in a full-size outdoor rink surrounded by nothing farms and mountains (and RV tourists crawling by you on the highway) in a town of 50 people?
Small towns generally need at least three things to keep them going: a store where people can buy good to live on; a school to keep youth in the community; and a community facility around which people can gather. It’s probably no shock that when the school here closed in June 2002, the community rink next door soon fell into disrepair. Schools aren’t just about your kids. They provide a foundation upon which your community can build. Parson still has a general store/service station 2 kilometres up the road from the school, and certainly gets its share of drive-through tourist traffic being surrounded by burgeoning alpine tourist meccas like Golden, Invermere, Panorama, Radium Hot Springs and Kimberley. As those communities develop (hopefully), there may be some folks looking to escape to a quieter area like Parson. Perhaps one day Columbia Valley Elementary will reopen so that a new generation of kids can develop their hockey skills next door on the grand old rink in true Canadian fashion (that is to say, true Canadien fashion). I mean, hey; just a weedwhacker and some sealcoat…
Burton Hockey (2010).Potential Roller Hockey Rinks (Southern Mainland BC).Google Earth/Google Maps .kmz file.Available at http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?hl=en≷=ca&ptab;=2&ie;=UTF8&oe;=UTF8&msa;=0&msid;=116837360122003044228.000487abc7489e29407d4 (Google Maps) or http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?hl=en≷=ca&ptab;=2&ie;=UTF8&oe;=UTF8&msa;=0&output;=nl&msid;=116837360122003044228.000487abc7489e29407d4 (Google Earth).Accessed 28 July 2010.
Carrier, R. (1979). The Hockey Sweater and other stories. Toronto: House of Anansi.