History of Gander's Gardens
Gander Gardens on the Airport (1946-1955)
Prior to the opening of the Community Centre in 2000, Gander had three ice surfaces in the 50+ years after joining the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association in 1947. All of these hockey arenas were referred to as the Gander Gardens. The first 'Gardens' was located on what was known as the 'Canadian side' of the airport.
During the Second World War, and up to 1946, the RCAF built two outdoor rinks and an indoor rink in Hanger 4. From the winter of 1946/47 to 1955, on Pattison Road, hockey in Gander was played on a large natural ice surface in what was known as airport Hangar #12. The Lush brothers leased and operated this rink in 1946-47 followed by Father McCarthy for the next two seasons from 1947-49. For the next two years the rink was operated by John Nolan and Frank Broderick.
The last game played at Hangar 12 was on March 21, 1955 between the Airport Club and The Legion. The Legion won the game 16-8 with Cy Hoskins scoring 7 goals for the winning team.
Gander Gardens on Foss Avenue (1956-1963)
With teams importing more players in the fifties, senior hockey became very popular in Newfoundland. Paying players also meant more revenue was required to keep a team competitive. As a result, most major Newfoundland centres moved towards larger arenas with more seating and larger ice surfaces that could hold more spectators to help pay for the rising cost of operating the teams. Many of these arenas had large, artificial ice surfaces to give the faster players more skating room and, importantly, to lengthen the hockey season by not relying on the winter temperatures.
At the old Gander town site an old World War Two drill hall on Foss Avenue was renovated and piping was installed to give the town its first artificial ice surface. Also known as the Gander Gardens, the arena was officially opened on the airport on March 10, 1956.
On opening night the Grand Falls Bees played Corner Brook in an exhibition game at the new Gardens. The visiting teams donated the gate receipts to Gander's fundraising committee to help pay for the project. Control of the ice rink was now taken over by the Gander Hockey Association.
Drill Hall on Foss Ave Before 1956
Grand Opening Saturday March 10, 1956
Gander Gardens on Lindberg Avenue (1963-2000)
Construction began May 2, 1962 on a new arena at the corner of Lindberg Avenue and Airport Boulevard. Officially opened on February 1, 1963, the arena had an ice surface of 80' x 180', six dressing rooms and seated 1600.
Originally the new facility was to open November 1962 and to be named Paton Arena as a memorial to Dr. James Paton who died in February of that year. Instead, the Provincial Government decided to name the new Gander hospital in his honor. The James Paton Memorial Hospital opened in 1964.
The new Gander Gardens was operated by the Gander Hockey Association and the first stadium manager hired was Cy Hoskins.
Link to Dave Hoddinott's rendering of The Gander Gardens of 1963-2000.
Gander Community Centre (2000-present)
Gander Unveils Civic Centre
Last Updated: Friday, May 5, 2000 | 4:45 PM ET CBC News
"Gander is unveiling the jewel in the convention town's crown this week. People are getting tours of the new community centre. The stadium and convention facility has been under construction for more than a year. For just over six million dollars the town is getting a building that will seat 1100 people to replace the aging Gander Gardens. The official opening ceremonies are on Friday night, but the centre has already hosted one major convention held by the Salvation Army. Next month, the Canadian National Dart championships will be held in the new building."