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Rogers Place just the latest incarnation of hockey hubs in the heart of Edmonton

Downtown Edmonton in 1912 looking northeast from 104 Street with the Thistle Rink in view. CREDIT: McDermid Studios/ City of Edmonton Archives

Following the pomp and pageantry of the celebration that was the grand opening of Rogers Place – Edmonton’s new downtown arena – Thursday, it’s easy to forget there have been other notable hockey rinks in the heart of the city over the years.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s long-awaited Rogers Place downtown arena opens

According to teacher, hockey fan and amateur sports historian Sandy Van Riper, most indications are Edmontonians first started playing ice hockey outdoors around 1884. But pretty soon, a hockey barn became the preferred place to get together for Canada’s favourite sport.

“Everyone aspired to being able to play inside where you had more control over the weather,” Van Riper said. “The first real inside arena of note in Edmonton – there may have been someone who made a sheet inside a barn or something…(was) built in the heart of downtown Edmonton – actually a multi-purpose facility – called the Thistle Rink.”

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Below are several vignettes about the Thistle Rink and several other hockey arenas that called Alberta’s capital home after that. While not a complete chronological history, the videos offer some insight into some of the milestones in the history of Edmonton’s hockey facilities.

-With files from Shallima Maharaj.

Watch below: Edmonton’s first indoor arena of note was built in the heart of the downtown core in 1902. It was a multi-purpose facility called the Thistle Rink.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s arena history: The Thistle Rink' Edmonton’s arena history: The Thistle Rink
Edmonton’s arena history: The Thistle Rink – Sep 8, 2016

Watch below: Edmonton’s first indoor arena of note was primarily built out of wood and burned to the ground in 1913. 

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s arena history: Thistle Rink burns down' Edmonton’s arena history: Thistle Rink burns down
Edmonton’s arena history: Thistle Rink burns down – Sep 9, 2016

Watch below: For some time, a livestock pavilion was served as Edmonton’s primary arena but after it was renovated in the 1940s, the arena was called the Edmonton Gardens which was used until 1982.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s arena history: The Edmonton Gardens' Edmonton’s arena history: The Edmonton Gardens
Edmonton’s arena history: The Edmonton Gardens – Sep 9, 2016

Watch below: In 1972, construction began on a hockey arena that would serve as the home of the Edmonton Oilers until the end of the 2015-16 NHL season. It was located at Northlands and went through a variety of names – the last of which was Rexall Place.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s arena history: Northlands' Edmonton’s arena history: Northlands
Edmonton’s arena history: Northlands – Sep 9, 2016

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