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Work begins on memorial park to commemorate Listowel arena collapse


Construction is underway at a park on Listowel’s east side, but this no normal park.

“This is not your typical park because it’s a memorial park that commemorates the arena collapse of February 1959. We had seven young victims and the arena manager that were killed. Part of the park, there’s a very strong presence of the memorial which will be designated with [the victims’] names on it. We’ll have eight pairs of bronzed skates to mark the spot too. Each of them designating one of the victims,” said Listowel Memorial Arena Park Committee Lead Jerry Rozendal.

The collapse of Listowel’s arena in 1959 was a dark day in the community’s history.

While Listowel’s arena was rebuilt on the very spot where the old arena collapsed, it was torn down on purpose four years ago because it needed too many repairs.

Shortly thereafter, Rozendal and some of the survivors of the arena collapse started working on plans to mark the tragedy on the site of the old arena.

Listowel’s Arena collapse in February 1959, which killed seven peewee hockey players and the town’s recreation director. (Source: Municipality of North Perth)

A memorial park took shape with elements that are in most parks, and elements that honour the 1959 collapse.

“There is going to have aspects of it that are a memorial, but there will be a play structure, a naturalized play structure. There’s going to be an ice surface as well, weather permitting, at the centre ice spot of the former arena,” said Jeff Newell, facilities manager for the Municipality of North Perth.

Since the tragedy was more than 60 years ago, there is an urgency to complete the park in time for the arena collapse survivors and their relatives, and in some cases, parents to see it before they and their memories pass on.

Jeff Newell, manager of North Perth Facilities, and Memorial Arena Park Committee Lead Jerry Rozendal talk outside the construction site for Listowel’s Memorial Arena Park on May 9, 2024. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“We’re hoping later this fall it will be complete. I’m hoping September, but we’ll have to see. It’s probably a four to five month project, and we just broke ground last Monday,” said Rozendal.

$800,000 of the $1.25 million cost of Listowel’s Memorial Arena Park has been raised by the community. The rest will be covered by North Perth if more donations aren’t received.

“It has a lasting memory that needs to be addressed. We feel the Memorial Park is a fitting solution to recognize that important moment in Listowel’s history,” said Newell.

You can learn more about the Listowel Memorial Arena Project by visiting their website. Top Stories

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