We Made Hartney

We Made Hartney

Community Volunteer

Implement Dealer and Ice Maker
Ed Hornibrook



Skating Parties in the 1890s

IN THE WINTER OF 1895 Ed Hornibrook, an implement dealer, cleared the snow from a space west of the CPR station and flooded a sheet of ice one hundred and fifty feet long, and fifty feet wide for a skating rink, enclosed it with a board fence and built a small waiting room in which skaters might put on their skates. Before that winter was over the men agitated for a curling rink and Mr. Hornibrook flooded one sheet of ice for curling and covered it with a temporary shed. Interest in curling was so lively that the games were played in the afternoons as well as the evenings. The stores sometimes closed in the afternoons so that proprietors and clerks could watch or take part in a keenly contested game.

In 1897 Mr. Hornibrook provided two sheets of curling ice as well as a skating rink. His waiting room was larger and accommodated curlers, skaters and the brass band which provided music for skating two nights a week. Skating parties with sleigh loads of young people from the country districts were held frequently and one or more skating carnivals were held each winter with prizes for representative, fancy and comic costumes. Each spring the temporary building was torn down and each fall it was rebuilt with improvements over the year before, until the permanent rink and agricultural building was erected in 1902.

The new rink had two curling sheets and a large room for curling equipment. The skating rink had, besides the skating ice, separate cloak rooms for men and women above which was room for the band. At the Hartney rink the young ladies donned their skates and waited demurely for the opening notes of the first band selection. Then there was a hurried procession of eager young men through the one narrow door of the ladies’ waiting room to secure the ladies who had promised to skate the first band with them. Such jostling and hurrying as those first notes of the band music evoked! The young maidens, however eager to begin, were never forward enough to rush toward the boys but waited sedately until their partners tipped their hats and offered their arms. Where this rigorous propriety originated we did not inquire but it was in keeping with subservience to etiquette in the best tradition of the town. The band was a great help to the enjoyment of skating and Hartney youngsters accepted music for skating as their right.

Adapted from The Mere Living, page 158.

The small-town charm of late 19th-century ice skating described in the previous entry can be contrasted with developments in larger centres that hold their own appeal:

The development of refrigerated ice rinks started the transformation of ice skating from a seasonal pastime to a major sport and entertainment. The first rink with artificially frozen ice, a private one called the Glaciarium, was opened in London in 1876. The first artificially frozen rink in the United States was installed in the old Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1879.

Throughout the century more and more public rinks with artificially produced ice appeared. The ability to create sheets of ice inside large arenas gave rise to both skating sports and ice shows, which became a popular family entertainment in the early 20th century. It also allowed for ice skating to spread to regions with warm climates.

Views of ice skating in the late 1800s.

Our Heritage  People / We Made Hartney