Who was Frank Robinson?
Frank Robinson Arena gets renovations
Most of the renovation work being done on the Frank Robinson Arena should be completed by September 8 when the 2015 programming begins, says a Gatineau spokesperson.
The renovations are part of regular maintenance and repairs all in preparation for the next season and are within budget. They include painting the ice surface’s concrete slab and rooms and hallways, as well as installing a rubber carpet in the rooms and ceramic tiles in the showers.
The building is also undergoing electrical, plumbing and mechanical work. The arena is in great need of these improvements, especially the plumbing. The water pressure in showers is seldom optimal – said to be normal since the arena is over 40 years old.
A bit of history
The Frank Robinson Arena is a great example of community spirit. The inside ice surface was built thanks to the non-profit AYDELU Inc. The organization, grouping 32 community groups from Aylmer, Deschênes and Lucerne (thus the name AYDELU), was incorporated in 1971 to build, amongst other things, an inside rink. At the time, the association’s president was Frank Robinson.
The arena was part of a large sports complex project behind the old Town Hall in Aylmer. The recreational land included a baseball and a soccer field as well as a leisure zone. AYDELU members wanted to build the arena as soon as possible because many hockey players had to travel all the way to Shawville to play or practice.
The near-14 acres was donated by the Rotary Club. The arena was designed, pro bono, by Aylmer architect Peter Douglas who lived at the time on the corner of Eardley Road and Symmes Street.
With building costs for the arena estimated at $306,000, the federal government contributed $106,000 and the rest of the money had to be raised by the community.
AYDELU organized the fundraising, and the community responded with great generosity; some AYDELU members, such as the Foran family, mortgaged their homes to pay for the arena.
Spring, 1973, saw the first shovel in the ground for the new arena. Two days before Christmas of the same year, the arena was officially inaugurated and named AYDELU. On August 22, 1995, the arena’s name was changed to Frank Robinson, because the municipal Council of the old City of Aylmer wanted to honour the memory of Frank Robinson, who had died in 1976 at the early age of 37. According to one source, Mr. Robinson, who was vice-principal at D’Arcy McGee School, died while playing hockey.