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74 Days Until The Season Begins

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Zach Laing
9 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane.
Long before there was Northlands Colesium and Rogers Place, there was a little arena that played a key cog in Edmonton’s hockey history: the Edmonton Gardens.
And for day 74 of the countdown, we’re talking about the old barn that shuttered in 1974.

An Edmonton Journal article from Nov. 15, 1913 shows the inside of the Edmonton Stock Pavilion, later renamed the Edmonton Gardens. It was the city’s first dedicated professional hockey rink. The first game was played here between the Eskimos and Dominions of the Edmonton Inter-City League on Christmas Day, 1913.

PLAYER COUNTDOWN PRESENTED BY BETWAY


But before we even get into the story of the Gardens, we have to talk about the rink that started it all: Thistle Rink. What was a building that, quite literally, looked like a barn inside and out, had been built ten years prior and served as a jack-of-all-trades. Located on Second St. now 102nd St. in downtown Edmonton, the building had served as a hockey rink, a music festival hall as well as Alberta’s first Legislative Assembly.
But in October 1913, the building had burnt down in a fire leaving Edmonton without a rink. It didn’t take long for that need to be filled, however, as in 1911, building had begun on the Edmonton Stock Pavilion.
Located on the south side of 118th Ave. across from where Northlands Coliseum has sat for years, it was described as “the first of it’s kind” in Canada and while it was initially built to showcase livestock. With Thistle Rink burnt down, the Pavilion hosted its first game on Christmas Day 1913.
The game took place within the Edmonton City Hockey League and saw the Edmonton Eskimos, donning brand-new green and white jerseys, fall 4-2 to the Edmonton Dominions in the Inter-City League division.
Over the years, a plethora of teams would play out of the Gardens including the Eskimos, the Edmonton Flyers, and the Edmonton Oil Kings in various senior leagues. And in 1971, when the Alberta Oilers became a founding member of the World Hockey Association, you can guess where the team played out of: the Edmonton Gardens.
The old arena, which had issues with sight lines and more from near the get-go, was dated by the time the Oilers rolled into town. In 1973, work began on getting a new home for the hockey team.
“For hockey fans seated on the hardest chairs in North America and peering around the pillars at the Edmonton Gardens, the new coliseum will be ectasy,” a Jan. 5, 1973 Edmonton Journal article read. “But fans will have to satisfy themselves with the old Gardens until at least playoff hockey time in 1974 says architect Don McCoy.”
The new building, Northlands Coliseum, opened for the Oilers to play in 1974.
While the new barn entered and the old faded away, it surely didn’t go down without a fight. The first attempt at demolition took place in Jan. 1982, many years after the hockey club had left, and a year after the Edmonton Drillers of the North American Soccer League did too.
Crammed full of dynamite, the building refused to go down and a month later met its match at the hands of a wrecking ball.

How many days are left until the Edmonton Oilers start the 2023-24 season? 74!

Can you guess who will be featured in tomorrow’s countdown?

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