Windsor Arena was once the Madison Square Garden of Essex County. There was a time when the Arena was full of laughter, cheering, and life. Children would haunt the doors of the building hoping to get a glimpse of their favourite hockey players, musicians, and wrestling stars. Greats of sports and music graced the floor of the Barn. Don Cherry got his start and Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe played at the Arena early in their careers. Fans watched Barbara Ann Scott glide across the ice on an exhibition tour. Andre the Giant grappled with contenders to the cheering of fans of all ages.
Community came together at Windsor Arena. It was where we celebrated wins and mourned losses. The building wasn’t known as the “Madhouse on McDougall” for quiet dignity.
In its heyday, available ice time at the Arena was rare. It could be returned to that state of profitability. Rented ice times for parties, sponsored public skates, special events and more could be held once again in this building. Windsor Arena could be a vibrant flex space made available to the community for special events. Imagine attending a Sunday market and buying locally made goods or watching a local music festival from the stands.
Windsor Arena has architectural as well as cultural significance. Built with trussed steel by the same company that built the Ambassador Bridge, it is one of the oldest indoor artificial ice arenas in North America. When it was built, the Arena was a tourist attraction drawing more than 7,000 fans to the 4,200-capacity viewing area for its first hockey game.
Windsor Arena could serve its highest purpose as a flexible community space for the people of Windsor and Essex County. Please value its history and advocate for its adapted reuse.
The Members of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Windsor/Essex Branch
Tammy Dewhirst, Chair
Picture from the Windsor Public Library. Click here to see original source.