It’s February in the Frontenacs.
Like most of Canada, there’s a lot of hockey going on. Down at the Frontenac Community Arena, there are of course the Frontenac Flyers and Frontenac Fury organizations for boys and girls organized hockey respectively.
But what about when you leave your teens?
Well, on Sundays at noon, the Frontenac Arena is the home of the Frontenac Fly Girls, a ladies team that boasts 18 members on its roster — and they’ve been doing it for 17 years.
“It’s a bunch of ladies having social fun time,” says Glenna Asselstine, Fly Girls captain, player/coach, organizer (“all of the above”). “We play some tournaments but essentially it’s just for fun.”
The Sunday games are played against two other ladies teams, one from Kingston and another essentially based in Tamworth that includes players from all over.
They play real games, with referees and timekeepers. And they keep score but they don’t have standings or playoffs.
“Our officials are kids of some of the players who are looking to get some refereeing experience,” Asselstine said. “We had one penalty called today (in a 3-3 tie with Tamworth).
“But we like to have some structure to the game, you know, some stoppages for line changes and such.”
And perhaps the odd break for aging legs?
“Yeah, that too,” she said, chuckling.
Their oldest player is 67 and their youngest “28, I think,” Asselstine said.
“Some players leave and we recruit new ones,” she said. “We’ve had a core of six or seven players for quite some time now.”
One of the newer recruits is self-confessed ‘rink rat’ Julia Schall.
“It’s great, lots of fun,” Schall said. “If it were up to me, I’d be on the ice the whole time.”
And fun is kinda the point with this bunch.
Asselstine’s been playing hockey since she was 11. She took some time off to have a son, but was soon back into it.
And it’s still fun for her.
“Well, there’s a tournament in Tamworth next weekend and at the end of April, we’ll be going down to Lake Placid for a four-day tournament with men’s and women’s division, but essentially that’s for fun too.”
Lisa Myles, a Napanee fitness trainer who plays with the Tamworth group said they do have a tournament team (The Bucketlisters) who placed second in the 55+ provincials last year and will be heading to St. John NB in August for a national tournament agreed that the fun aspect was the big attraction.
“You know, some young girls came into our dressing room after the game and said ‘there’s a bunch of old ladies in there,’” Myles said.
For hockey players, age is just a state of mind.
The theme for last week’s Strawberry Moon Festival, the 12th annual, was beavers, ‘amik’ in Algonquin and indeed it was a busy place.
The official attendance tally was 193, the vast majority of whom were children, said organizer Marcie Asselstine.
That represents a considerable increase over last year. And they saw it coming which initiated the move to the Frontenac Arena grounds from the St. James Major schoolgrounds.
Asselstine said the festival is a “wrap up” for her program in which she visits area classrooms to teach students about Algonquin culture and traditions. Since her schedule has increased, attendance at the festival was no surprise.
“I started with two classrooms,” she said. “Now I visit nine.”
The festival draws its name from the fact that June is “strawberry month,” Asselstine said. “I start planning in May, calling my traditional volunteers and putting everything together.
“We chose amik (literally translated ‘builds with wood’) this year because the beaver represents wisdom and one of my classes built beaver lodges. It’s also the 150th anniversary of Canada and the beaver is Canada’s official animal.”
To that end, they set up six stations and the visitors travelled clockwise to each one.
The first station featured headband making, complete with beaver tails. Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation and Chief Doreen Davis provided the materials (as well as other financial support).
The second station was a traditional snack of corn bread and strawberries. Healthy Kids Community Challenge provided the strawberries.
The third station was drumming, with Red Sun men’s drum and a gathering of local women’s hand drums.
The fourth station featured local storyteller Danka Brewer telling how beaver got his distinctive teeth. She was assisted by a host of dragonflies, which she explained are the “keepers of children’s dreams.”
The fifth station featured early literacy teacher Susan Ramsey telling how beaver got his flat tail in a teepee arranged by Shawn MacDonald of the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.
The sixth station featured lacrosse, a traditional First Nations game and Canada’s national summer sport.
“A lot of us here are First Nations families,” Asselstine said. “One of my students said ‘I’m Algonquin and is it ever fun.
“This is about making it OK to share our culture and bringing people together.”
Asselstine had special praise for all of her colleagues at North Frontenac Community Services, who helped organize the event.
Use of the arena grounds was arranged by South Frontenac arena and recreation supervisor Tim Laprade.
“It’s a fun day for the community — and showing community spirit,” said Heather Hasler, registrar for Frontenac Minor Hockey Association, which includes the organization’s ball hockey component. “Everything is free, except for the barbecue.”
This was FMHA’s second Ball Hockey Day, held last Saturday at the Frontenac Arena. They’ve been holding similar events for many years but with the inclusion of the summer ball hockey leagues, it just made sense to feature the relatively new leagues.
The ball hockey program has grown since its inaugural year, to 20 teams in five divisions and four adult teams (“I’m playing myself,” said Hasler).
She said ball hockey is part of the Canadian Landscape and “It’s nice to see the arena in use during the off-season.”
Hasler said she’s “been coming to this place since it’s opened.”
One of the aspects of ball hockey she likes is that they’ve been getting “quite a few kids who don’t play hockey.”
Of course the ball hockey season is winding down (this Sunday is the final day) and Hasler is already thinking about the upcoming ice hockey season. The registration deadline is Aug. 31. After that, a $100 late fee applies.
The FMHA offers Learn-to-Skate, Initiation and Tyke programs as well as First Shift program for those who’ve never tried hockey before. Of course they also offer a full-range of house league and rep teams.
“And our novice rep team won the OMHA East CC championship last year, which was a first for us,” she said.
While Sunday’s get-together wasn’t a fundraiser, the FMHA does have financial needs just like any other sporting organization. To that end, they’ve scheduled the FMHA Rinks to Links Golf Tournament at the Rivendell Golf Club for Sept. 9. The Entry fee of $100 includes green fees, cart and a pork roast dinner as well as prizes.
They’re also looking for sponsors at the $500 and $100 level which includes an ad that will be on display at the Arena for events during the 2017-2018 season.
More information about registration and the golf tournament is available on their website www.frontenachockey.ca.
Over 250 players between 3 and 18 are playing ball in the youth division of the Frontenac Ball hockey Assopciation in its second season. There are many returning players and ice hockey players but lots of new faces as well. Kids play on Sunday afternoons from noon to 8:00pm. The arena is packed with kids, families and fun. There is music playing, canteen and BBQ available with all proceeds going back into our Minor Hockey Programs.
Adults are getting in on the action this year as there is a 4 team league of for the 18 and older set that play on Tuesday evenings We hope to expand on this next year.
Although operational costs continue to increase, the Frontenac Minor Hockey Association has once again decided not to increase Ball Hockey and Ice Hockey registration fees. This is made possible by community contributions and fundraising events such as our Annual Rinks to Links Golf Tournament which will be held on Saturday September 9th at Rivendale Golf Club and is open to everyone.
The League is hosting a Fun Day at the Rink on Sunday, June 11. See Northern Happenings for details, or visit www.frontenachockey.ca or Facebook/Twitter.
The Frontenac Community Arena (FCA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a $30,000 Ontario150 Community Capital Program grant. These funds will help fund the capital costs of replacing the Arena’s 30-year-old dehumidification system with a new, more energy-efficient Desiccant system.
“Our community arenas act as a hub where people come together to share and grow; the Ontario150 Community Capital Program grant is providing for improvements at Frontenac Community Arena will help secure the continued enjoyment and enhance the benefits of this much-loved facility,” said Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
Administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, these grants will help non-profit organizations, municipalities and Indigenous communities to renovate, repair and retrofit existing community and cultural infrastructure. The one-time, Ontario150 Community Capital Program has been designed to help honour Ontario’s past, showcase the present and inspire future generations.
“We are very pleased to be a recipient of a Ontario150 Community Capital Program grant. It will support the replacement of aging equipment vital to ice making process,” said Sherry Whan, Central Frontenac Township Councillor and Arena Board Chair.
“This important Capital project along with work completed over the past two years is vital to the Frontenac Community Arena operations,” said Tim Laprade, Arena Manager. “This work reflects the Arena Boards continued commitment to investing in infrastructure that will reduce our energy consumption and support ice activities,” added Laprade.
The Ontario150 Community Capital Program is administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario and one of Canada’s largest granting foundations.
Thirty-two boys and girls aged six to 10 are taking part in a unique hockey development program to promote a love of hockey and physical activity. Hosted by the Frontenac Fury Girls' Hockey Association, the First Shift program allows students who have never played hockey before to share a positive first experience with seasoned coaching staff and players. The program also aims to remove barriers that might prevent children or families from trying hockey in the first place. For the Fury, this means making them feel at home within our hockey community and to stimulate a desire for continued participation. Thanks to funding from Hockey Canada, Bauer and local sponsors at Kingston's Canadian Tire, all participants are outfitted head-to-toe in equipment valued at more than $1,000. Participating families only pay $199. In addition to the equipment, volunteer Fury coaches, players and community volunteers provide six on-ice sessions. A grant to the Fury from South Frontenac Township has allowed the fury to extend the on-ice instruction by an additional six sessions. So far, with two on-ice sessions under their belt, both participants and mentors are having a great time getting to know one another and have fun! While the fall session is full, the Fury are accepting new participants for the winter session to begin in the new year. For more information, please visit http://frontenacfury.ca/news.php?news_id=1334080
The Frontenac Fury Girls' Hockey Association is pleased to have been selected as a partner in The First Shift. The First Shift is a unique opportunity designed to help kids fall in love with hockey before you buy all the gear. This six-week learn-to-play program focuses on having fun while learning basic skills. Participants will be fitted head to toe with brand new hockey equipment from Bauer Canada and receive 1 hour a week for 6 weeks of on-ice trial. Registration is only $199, and includes all equipment. This program will help break down barrier for some families who might not otherwise be able to offer hockey to their children. The program is open to girls and boys between ages 6 and 10 who have never played hockey before.For more information, please visit http://frontenacfury.ca/news.php?news_id=1334080
All the net proceeds from the dinner and dance on August 6 at the Frontenac Arena, the first of many events in this 40th anniversary year of the arena, will be added to a $20,000 campaign for arena upgrades.
One of the main upgrades is heated seats in the stands so spectators don't have to freeze while watching games.
However, there was little need for heaters on Saturday night, as the arena acts like a giant heat trap in the summer and air conditioning was probably more on people's minds than heating when over 150 people gathered to eat and drink, reminisce about the history of the arena and dance the night away.
The evening was kicked off by a set of “Oyes” by Central Frontenac Town Crier Paddy O'Connor, followed by greetings from Frances Smith and Ron Vandewal, the mayors of Central and South Frontenac respectively. The arena was originally built by the former Portland, Bedford, Hinchinbrooke and Oso townships, and since 1998 it has been managed through an amicable partnership between Central and South Frontenac.
Phil Leonard, long-time reeve of Portland Township and three-term mayor of South Frontenac, emceed the evening. He provided his own memories of the arena, and introduced Marcel Giroux, who was on the founding committee of the arena, and arena board president, Brent Cameron. Presentations were made to Jim Stinson and Joy Nox for their outstanding, long -time service to the arena.
A blessing was given by Rev. Mac Steinburg, who also brought a short message from Trevor Steinburg. Trevor played his first hockey at the arena before playing his way into the NHL. He is now the coach of the St. Mary's Huskies.
As the dinner, catered by Linda Bates, was being served, many took the opportunity to check out a large table that was filled with memorabilia from the past; to purchase the arena memory book that was put together by the 40th anniversary committee, and to start off the bidding on the silent auction items.
After dinner, things got steamier yet as Texas Tuxedo got most everyone on the dance floor. The silent auction was also a success, with some items drawing bids of over $100, including a framed Mike Smith sweater, which went for over $400.
Event organizer Pam Morey said that it was a pleasure to work with the 40th anniversary committee to put on the gala.
“The best part of it all was that everyone who attended seemed to have a lot of fun. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the 40th anniversary which will carry through to other events this year, I'm sure,” she said.
There are copies of the memory book available at the low price of $10. For information, call the arena at 613-374-2177.
(Tickets for the gala will be on sale at the door. It is $30 for the dinner and dance and $20 for just the dance. Come on out - Door open at 6 - dance starts at 9)
There's going to be a big bash to kick off the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Frontenac Community Arena on Saturday August 6.
Doors open at 6pm, and the cash bar will be open, followed by a sit-down dinner catered by Linda Bates. There will be some informal speeches and presentations after the dinner, and a commemorative book about the history of the arena will be launched.
In the meantime, the silent auction will be going on, featuring, among other items, gift certificates and gift baskets, a signed hockey stick courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the featured item, an autographed Mike Smith jersey that was donated by the Smith family. As well, more items are coming in every day in the run up to the event.
At 9 p.m. or so, Tamworth's own Texas Tuxedo will take the stage, performing highly danceable country rock until around 1 a.m. There will be shuttle buses heading north and south at the end of the evening.
Tickets are $30 for the dinner and show. They are available at Gray's Grocery, the Central Frontenac Township Office, Asselstine Hardware, Leonard Fuels, Sydenham One Stop, Verona Hardware, Godfrey General Store and at the Arena.
For further information, call 613-374-3177 or visit Frontenacarena.com
Reflections on 40 years of the NFCA
Jim Stinson's first involvement in the North Frontenac Community Arena (he has trouble using the new Frontenac Community Arena moniker) was as a fund-raising volunteer in 1974 or 1975.
“I was assigned Desert Lake Road because that is where I live. I went door to door asking for money,” he said when interviewed at the arena this week.
He recalls that the idea of building an arena in Frontenac County had been kicked around since the mid 1960s but there were always obstacles in the way.
There was talk in the early '70s between Hinchinbrooke, Oso, Olden and Bedford townships.
According to Dave Hansen, who was serving on Hinchinbrooke Council at the time, the townships went together to Frontenac County for funding support.
“We were told that if we agreed on a site and invested $100, they would put up the rest of the money. They were convinced we would never agree on a site, but we did agree on the Parham fair grounds as a site. When we went back, they said it turned out it was illegal for them to make the funding promise, so they backed out,” said Hansen, when contacted at his home on Tuesday.
According to Jim Stinson and Dave Hansen, there was also talk between Loughborough and Portland Townships about building an arena but they couldn't agree about locating it in Harrowsmith or Sydenham.
The logjam was broken when Portland came to the northern group after Grant Piercy offered them a piece of land on the border between Portland and Hinchinbrooke. Portland also committed to funding 41% of the operating costs, and that was that.
Frontenac County offered up $100,000 ($20,000 for each township involved) and $25,000 came from the Lions Club. Wintario was offering up $2 for each dollar raised through fund raising. That, in addition to the already strong support for the project, kicked off a highly successful fund-raising drive. Between door-to-door canvassing, dinners, draws and corporate donations, $80,000 was raised, of which over $1,600 came from school children. In the end, only $14,000 of the $492,000 budget came from local taxation
Although the arena is not located within the boundaries of any existing hamlet, it has the advantage of being located within a reasonably short drive from Arden, Sharbot Lake, Parham, Verona, Harrowsmith and Sydenham.
Once the arena was built, it needed a manager. At that time Jim Stinson, like so many others from the region, commuted each day to a job at Alcan in Kingston. One day while sharing a ride to work, someone said he should consider applying for the job as arena manager. Since he had refrigeration and electrical training, he was a prime candidate for the arena manager's job, which at the beginning was only about maintaining the building, making the ice, keeping all the equipment running, etc.
“I knew how to turn on the compressors, but what I didn't know was how to make ice, and an arena needs ice,” he recalls.
The ice-maker at the Cataraqui arena came up and showed him how to make ice by flooding the rink in stages and slowly building up the surface, and in the fall of 1976, the North Frontenac Arena opened with a fresh sheet of ice.
North Frontenac Minor Hockey started up right away, with Dick Steel as the driving force, with both girls and boys playing. Over 300 kids played hockey in that first year. At the same time Faye Steel started up a Figure Skating club, which lasted over 20 years.
In the 1980s, there was a curling club at the arena for several years. The Frontenac Flyers, a Junior C team that competed in the Empire B League with teams from Amherstview, Napanee, Picton, Madoc and Campbelford, ran for almost 20 years before folding about ten years ago
But it has been recreational hockey that has been the mainstay of the arena's success, and it remains busy seven days a week during the season with a men's league, an Over 30 league and boys' and girls' hockey leagues. Last year over 350 kids were enrolled in hockey at what is now known as the Frontenac Community Arena.
Ten years ago, the arena was upgraded thanks to a fund-raising campaign known as Project End Zone, and more improvements are planned, including the current campaign to pay for heaters for the stands. The campaign has a $20,000 goal and now sits at $13,000.
The arena will be marking its 40th anniversary this season, starting with a gala dinner and dance on August 6 (see the ad on page 12) and continuing into the coming season.
We will have more details about the dance in next week's edition of the Frontenac News. For more information, go to Frontenacarena.com