Denman Arena

The Denman Arena was an indoor ice rink on the northwest corner of Denman Street and Georgia Streets. It could seat over ten thousand people. Besides hockey and public skating, it was also used for curling and other sports, musical performances, and military assemblies.

Frank and Lester Patrick built the arena in 1911. The Pacific Coast Hockey Association, the Western Canada Hockey League and the Western Hockey League played games here until 1926. Other sports events also took place in the arena.

Ice Rink, in course of construction, British Columbia Archives, D-09164, http://www.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca/cgi-bin/www2i/.visual/img_med/dir_124/d_09164.gif

Ice Rink, in course of construction, British Columbia Archives, D-09164, http://www.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca/cgi-bin/www2i/.visual/img_med/dir_124/d_09164.gif

 

Denman Arena under construction, detail from [Panoramic view of the West End from the Royal Alexandra Apartments at Bute and Comox], PAN P112 - Vancouver City Archives, 1911, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/panoramic-view-of-west-end-from-royal-alexandra-apartments-at-bute-and-comox

Denman Arena under construction, detail from [Panoramic view of the West End from the Royal Alexandra Apartments at Bute and Comox], PAN P112 – Vancouver City Archives, 1911, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/panoramic-view-of-west-end-from-royal-alexandra-apartments-at-bute-and-comox

1800 Block Georgia Street - detail from Goad's Atlas of the city of Vancouver - 1912 - Vol 1 - Plate 7 - Coal Harbour to Barclay Street and Cardero Street to Stanley Park

1800 Block Georgia Street – detail from Goad’s Atlas of the city of Vancouver – 1912 – Vol 1 – Plate 7 – Coal Harbour to Barclay Street and Cardero Street to Stanley Park

 

Arena at 1805 Georgia at Denman, VPL Accession Number: 6549, Date: 1913. [There is some doubt about the date: the small building in front of the arena does not appear in the Vancouver directories until 1919. As well, the name “Victory Tea Rooms” may refer to the end of the First World War.]

Arena at 1805 Georgia at Denman, VPL Accession Number: 6549, Date: 1913. [There is some doubt about the date: the small building in front of the arena does not appear in the Vancouver directories until 1919. As well, the name “Victory Tea Rooms” may refer to the end of the First World War.]

After 1926, the arena continued to be the scene of other events, including box lacrosse, boxing and wrestling, and any other major sport that the arena could attract.

In 1927, Frank Patrick built the Denman Auditorium just to the south of the arena. It served as a concert hall for almost thirty years.

Denman Arena with Denman Auditorium to right - Vancouver Horse Show building in foreground; Van Sc P15 - Vancouver, B.C. [from the air looking east from Lost Lagoon]; about 1931, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/vancouver-b-c-from-air-looking-east-from-lost-lagoon

Denman Arena with Denman Auditorium to right – Vancouver Horse Show building in foreground; Van Sc P15 – Vancouver, B.C. [from the air looking east from Lost Lagoon]; about 1931, http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/vancouver-b-c-from-air-looking-east-from-lost-lagoon

On August 19, 1936, the arena hosted a series of boxing matches. One featured Max Baer (1909-1959), the former world heavyweight champion and James J. Walsh. (Max Baer’s son, Max Baer, Jr., would become famous playing Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies television series.) Max Baer was scheduled to fight in two other exhibition matches: one was with Sonny Buxton; the other was with Max’s brother Jacob Baer (1915-1986), known as “Buddy Baer.” The final match with named participants was between Gordon Wallace and Midnight Bell. There were “four other real fights.”

Shortly after 1 o’clock on the morning of August 20, a fire broke out near the Fenner and Hood shipyard at 1877 West Georgia Street.

Fire at the Denman Arena, Vancouver Public Library, VPL Accession Number: 6650, August 20, 1936

Fire at the Denman Arena, Vancouver Public Library, VPL Accession Number: 6650, August 20, 1936

The fire quickly spread through the rest of the block, and destroyed most of the buildings, including the arena. The auditorium next door to the arena was damaged but not destroyed. Several firefighters received injuries while fighting the fire.

Ruins after the fire at the Denman Arena, Vancouver Public Library, VPL Accession Number: 7896, August 20, 1936

Ruins after the fire at the Denman Arena, Vancouver Public Library, VPL Accession Number: 7896, August 20, 1936

Initially, Guy Patrick announced that he would repair the auditorium and would build a new ice arena, but that did not happen right away, although the auditorium seems to have been repaired.

Toward the end of the Second World War, in January 1945, the Royal Canadian Navy took over the auditorium for the duration of the war.

In 1945, Hymie M. Singer, who owned the State Theatre at 144 East Hastings Street and the Palomar Ballroom at Burrard Street and Alberni Street, announced plans to build a new $1,000,000 sports arena on the site. However, in 1947, Hymie Singer sold the site to Georgia Recreations Ltd. In 1949, the auditorium received new seats, along with new lighting and heating systems.

In 1951, Lieutenant Governor Frank Ross bought the site, and arranged for further renovations to the auditorium.

In 1952, the name of the building became the Georgia Auditorium. Many musical performances, political rallies and parties took place there.

Georgia Auditorium, 1805 West Georgia (at Denman St.), June 9, 1959. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-69; http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/georgia-auditorium-1805-west-georgia-st;rad

Georgia Auditorium, 1805 West Georgia (at Denman St.), June 9, 1959. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-69; http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/georgia-auditorium-1805-west-georgia-st;rad

By September 1959, the wreckers were demolishing the Georgia Auditorium. After the building was gone, the site stood empty for many years. It became part of Devonian Harbour Park.

 

There is one reference to this property in Heritage Vancouver Society Building Permits [SITE]:

District: Vancouver
Permit:
Owner: Vancouver Arena Co., Ltd.
Architect: Hooper, Thos.
Builder: Hooper, Thos.
Legal Address: DL: 185 Block: 64 Sub: Resub: Lot: 1 to 5
Date (Y-M-D): 1911-07-17
Street Number: 1833
Street Name: Georgia Street W
Value: $80,000.00
Remarks: Skating rink
Reference ID: VN-3200-3201-1091

 

Sources

Denman Arena

Denman Arena, Wikipedia article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denman_Arena

Denman Arena: The 10,500 Seat Ice Rink Home of The Vancouver Millionaires, http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2014/03/denman-arena-vancouver-millionaires/

Denman Arena: Canada’s First Artificial Ice Rink, http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com/2014/03/denman-arena-canadas-first-artificial.html

Professional Hockey and Urban Development: A Historical Case Study of the Vancouver Arena, 1911–1914, by John Chi-Kit Wong, Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine; Volume 38, numéro 1, automne 2009, p. 3-14; https://www.erudit.org/revue/uhr/2009/v38/n1/038462ar.html (describes the effect of the Denman Arena on the neighbourhood).

Vancouver’s first game drew 5,000 fans, August 29, 2008, http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=3690023b-18fd-4d5e-b624-a39061b0ed2e

Denman Arena – Home of the Vancouver Millionaires Stanley Cup, December 4, 2013, http://hockeygods.com/images/11274-Denman_Arena___Home_of_the_Vancouver_Millionaires_Stanley_Cup

Pacific Coast Hockey Association (1911-1924), http://www.hockeyleaguehistory.com/Pacific_Coast_Hockey_Association%20_1911.htm

Pacific Coast Hockey Association, Wikipedia article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Coast_Hockey_Association

Hockey Night in Vancouver, http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/sample_chapter_1911.htm. Describes the background of the Patrick brothers, who built the arena.

“Boxing: Tonight: 8:30 p.m. Arena,” Vancouver sun, August 19, 1936, page 18.

August 19, 1936, and August 29, 1936, http://vancouverhistory.ca/chronology1936.htm. Describes a fight in the Denman Arena between Max Baer and James J. Walsh, and the fire that destroyed the arena.

“Arena Razed in %600,000 Fire; Three Firemen in Hospital,” Vancouver Sun, August 20, 1936, pages 1, 16 [Includes photographs of fire.]

“Fire Marshal Presses Enquiry Info Spectacular Arena Blaze; Loss Esimated at $500,000,” Vancouver Province, August 20, 1936, pages 1, 2 [Includes photographs of fire.]

“Million Dollar Fire Rages at Vancouver,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, August 20, 1936, page 1, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=UtVXAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BvUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=7453%2C5252635

“Buckled Ruins Mark Path of Big Vancouver Blaze,” Winnipeg Tribune, August 20, 1936, page 1.

“Vancouver Has $1,000,000 Fire,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, August 20, 1936, page 1, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=IuMcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=WGQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5374%2C3459620

“Vancouver Arena Razed; Patrick Family “Cleaned,” Toronto Globe, August 21, 1936, page 7.

Cause Sought of Vancouver’s $500,000 Fire: Arena Destroyed – May End Professional Hockey There,” Toronto Globe, August 21, 1936, page 2.

“Vancouver Arena Destroyed by Fire,” Montreal Gazette, August 21, 1936, page 15, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rX8uAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EpkFAAAAIBAJ&pg=7012%2C2340763

“Over $500,000 Loss in Vancouver Fire,” Montreal Gazette, August 21, 1936, page 2, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rX8uAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EpkFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6111%2C2253461

“Patrick Plans New Ice Arena: Auditorium to be Put in Shape in Three Weeks,” Vancouver Province, August 20, 1936, page 6.

“Letters of Fire Write Finis to Arena History: Home of Vancouver’s Greatest Sport Moments Would be 25 Years Old This Christmas,” Vancouver Province, August 20, 1936, page 7 [Includes photograph of fire.]

Vancouver  to Have New Sports Arena, Toronto Star, November 8, 1945, page 14, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=EJY6AAAAIBAJ&sjid=RCoMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4838%2C5149404.

This day in history: Denman Arena, Aug. 20, 1936, Vancouver Sun, August 21, 2012, http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/this+history+1936/7115122/story.html

 

Denman Auditorium (later Georgia Auditorium)

Vancouver Building Register; http://ipac2.vpl.ca:81/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=P41I172349352.20&profile=comres&uri=full=3100020~!24136~!5&ri=1&aspect=subtab26&menu=search&source=~!comres#focus

“Laud Acoustics of “Auditorium,” Vancouver Sun, October 17, 1927, page 16.

“Navy Takes Denman St. Auditorium: Move Into Former Sports building on Monday, Jan. 8,” Vancouver Sun, January 11, 1945, page 8.

“Old Auditorium Beaten to Death By Wreckers,” Vancouver Sun, September 4, 1959.

‘Commodious’ lounges and smoking rooms for both sexes: Georgia Auditorium raised roof for more than three decades, Vancouver Sun, October 18, 2014, http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/THIS+WEEK+HISTORY+Commodious+lounges+smoking+rooms+both+sexes+Georgia+Auditorium+raised+roof/10302571/story.html#ixzz3HJarKTcr

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