Rink of dreams

Ian Murdoch
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After an 11 year hiatus, Henry Chubbs rebuilds one of the best outdoor rinks you'll skate on

The sharp cutting sound of skate blades on ice fills Henry Chubbs' backyard in Bide Arm day and night.

Henry Chubbs leans on one of the hand-built nets on his backyard hockey rink.

The sharp cutting sound of skate blades on ice fills Henry Chubbs' backyard in Bide Arm day and night.

That sound is something that has been missing from his backyard for the past 11 years, ever since his sons moved away and he was too busy running his business with his wife to keep up building the rink - something he did on an annual basis beginning 23 years ago.

Neighbours in Bide Arm remember the old rink - which, for a few years, included eight-foot high boards - that Mr. Chubbs used to build back in the day, in the old family house up the road.

That tradition carried on every year for his two sons and daughter, as well as any neighbourhood kid or adult that wanted to join in a friendly game of pick-up hockey.

But after 11 years without the rink, the desire to get back outside on the backyard ice with family members who were coming home for Christmas struck a reminiscent chord in Mr. Chubbs.

"This year my oldest son was living down in Wabush and coming home for Christmas and my other son was coming home as well.

"I was talking to him on the phone and he said, ‘What are ya doin'?' I said, ‘Nothing much' and he said, ‘Well I figured you'd be out floodin' the ice.' "

"Well, I haven't done that in 11 years. But after I hung up with him it sort of struck me - maybe I should. The boys are all comin' back for Christmas, and that's what I done."

He started flooding the backyard and had the rink set up in about a week, ready in time for Christmas.

 "They were delighted. A neighbour said that when they told the boys that I was doing the ice behind the house again they couldn't wait to get back to do what they did about 10 years ago," said Mr. Chubbs.

"I've enjoyed doin' it to be honest with you. I love just as much to go and put on me skates at night time as any of the b'ys." Henry Chubbs

What started off over 20 years ago on a piece of plastic 20 feet wide has grown into any hockey player's fantasy back yard - a 100 by 50 foot rink with smooth ice, two nets and lights set up for night time.

Usually the weather permits the rink to last from November to sometime in March, when the ice begins to melt.

Mr. Chubbs points to the trees in his backyard that line the edge of the pond.

"There's a fair amount of pucks out in those trees too when the snow goes."

The passion he has for the rink is something that becomes apparent the moment you get out on the ice and skate on it yourself, feeling the smooth surface underneath and crisp glass that only a dedicated ice connoisseur could construct.  

"I've enjoyed doin' it to be honest with you. I love just as much to go and put on me skates at night time as any of the b'ys."

The nets were hand-made, constructed from lumber and fishing nets.

There's no set time to play - they just plug in the lights and get a game on the go.

He said he's not sure if he'll continue the tradition next year but he added with a chuckle, "I'm sort of getting in the mood for it now."

He has a couple of grandkids coming along so it could be a good place for them to start, joining in Mr. Chubbs' favourite past time.

"I've always loved skating."

Bide Arm's backyard rink certainly provides great conditions for those who feel the same way.

 

Geographic location: Wabush

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  • Kellie Langdon
    August 28, 2012 - 09:05

    I would first like to thank the editor for doing such a good job writing this story, and for giving this man the chance to open up about his life long passion with ice and hockey. I would also like to add that you did a very good job writing this article and taking me back to the time where bide arm was so full of life and everyone came together as a family. I felt like I was there again, 20 years ago, and if that was the goal for the reader, then you accomplished just that. I would also like to thank whoever it was that thought this was a great inspiration to them, so much that they took it upon themselves to call you and make this not just a memory in our heads, but in writing an article that will forever be a keepsake in our hands and hearts forever. It brought tears to my eyes, just going back to the images that will forever be in my mind. I first skated when I was only 3 years old, the ice was as smooth as glass which I'm sure made things a little easier for me. I will never forget the good times had by all. My backyard came alive at night, and being just a little girl, I could only watch from the sidelines the games that were taking place. For me, watching was just as exciting as playing the game myself, I just made believe that it was me out there shooting the puck, and scoring the goals.... but truthfully, the best excitement is knowing that this was real.. and fun.. and a tradition that my brothers and I will continue with our family I'm sure. THIS IS MY FATHER.... who I am very proud of for committing his time and energy into something that I can share with my children someday.. Thank you DAD.. I'll FOREVER be GRATEFUl.. Love Kellie