The Weston Lions Recreation Arena at 2125 Lawrence Avenue West, or more commonly known as “The Arena” by most, has influenced many in Weston within its long timeline, and at its 65th anniversary, its contributions to the community should be celebrated.
Walking into the arena, one immediately notices the smell. It is a fragrance known and cherished by those who regular the arena, whether it be that of a father up early on a Saturday morning to watch his daughter play, or those arriving on a Thursday night to play in their men’s league. It is the smell of Weston’s famous, world-renowned fries, universally recognized as the smell of the arena.
Accompanied by this cultured delicacy are the friendly faces behind the royal blue counter of the snack bar. Always there to provide for its patrons, they’ll serve up anything available on the five-star menu. Now while the prices have gone up in the past by a few cents here and there (fries don’t grow on trees you know!), their ongoing sale can make up for it, because smiles are and will always be free.
Continuing past the snack bar you arrive at the main event, the ice. A chill goes down your spine, exhilarating you, as you enter the “business” part of the arena. The beautiful ice is surrounded by the ergonomic and colourful seating arrangements of alternating light blue and red wood benches, spanning the length of the arena, allowing for quite a crowd to gather to watch their loved ones play. Above, structural supports of wooden beams can also be seen arching from end to end. While two tunnels exist on either side of the ice under each bleacher, only one is used, allowing the players (and parents to sometimes tie their little athletes’ skates) to access their change rooms. Like that of any retro arena that you might have seen watching the NHL growing up, each bench is connected to the tunnel, thrilling in the eyes of any hockey player. There is nothing quite like hearing a crowd’s distant roar and then bursting out of the darkness on to a bright white stage, ready to perform.
This white stage, the ice, is characterized and maintained by the acts of one man. Most see him as the face of the arena, and everyone knows his name, Cam.
Cameron Harkness, a man who thinks of Weston as a second home to him, has been tending to the arena and helping its athletes for going on forty years now. Nothing bad can be said about Cam and his happy personality—especially happy as he drives the Zamboni that allows players to tear up the ice, only to repeat the cycle again and again. Playing at the arena himself in his youth, he came to love both the arena and its attendees.
“Community…the kids, everyone, everything.” Was his simple response when asked what he liked about being a part of such an important part of Weston before hopping on the Zamboni and getting to work, and a small beep followed by the cheer of players waiting to play on the bench as he passes can be heard. Simplicity in its sincerest form can be the most complex.
To an outsider, this arena may be seen as something that needs to be renovated or torn down due to its old architecture or revealed ceiling, but this place tells a story. This arena has been home to a league as old as the arena itself, countless teams, and even brushed off the chaos of Hurricane Hazel. This arena shows community, compassion, and the love that the community of Weston creates.
(For Information on how to register for weekly hockey through the Weston Minor Hockey League, visit wmhl.on.ca)