A family watched as the last hot spots were doused and the thick smoke wafting through the remaining steel frame of the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre was tamed.
Firefighters summoned from surrounding communities were on scene early Sunday morning battling the fire-ravaged centre, located along Route 12.
It was the “heartbeat” of the community, said Amy MacKendrick, who was with her family surveying the damage from a safe distance.
“Every time there was a hockey tournament, the winning team would be awarded a banner. One wall was lined with these banners. Then hanging in the canteen was the Kent Maynard (memorial) jersey, so it’s devastating these pieces of history are gone," said MacKendrick.
"I’m in a women’s recreational hockey team, and we were supposed to be playing here on Monday evening. I don’t know where we will play now. But I’ve been skating at this rink since I was four years old, and I’m now 34, so there are so many memories attached to this place.”
Tyne Valley Mayor Jeff Noye received the phone call on Sunday morning that a major fire had engulfed the centre.
“This rink is the home of the annual Tyne Valley Oyster Festival, and it’s open 12 months of the year, so it’s definitely devastating to see it gone. I know a lot of people are feeling the same way,” he said.
The Community Sports Centre was built in 1964 and had renovations done in 2000. In late 2019, it was closed for a period due to air quality issues, and the centre just recently re-opened.
In the wake of the fire, Noye was optimistic that plans are already in motion to rebuild.
“We will rebuild, there’s no question about it,” he said, as an excavator on site helped to demolish the rubble while loaded dirt trucks rolled to the scene.
“A new facility will be rebuilt in the same spot. Our goal is to have hockey here next fall, so we will get it done. I know we will. Four or five people were employed permanently at the centre," said Noye.
"Thankfully, no one got hurt, and that’s a huge thing. You have to look at the positives because this was the heartbeat of the community.”
Adam MacLennan, the centre’s rink manager, said this was one of the busiest sports centres on P.E.I.
“It had a lot of minor hockey, figure skating, adult leagues, and every day the ice was used. We have about 80 hours of ice time a week, so the big question is now, ‘where will these people play?’ We will be working on this the next couple of days,” said MacLennan.
“We live in a good community and I can imagine everyone will come together as quick as we can. From the rink and the Oyster Festival's point, I just want to say many thanks to all the firefighters and people that are dropping off food for them. It’s amazing, the support, and we really do appreciate it.”
MacLennan said it was not easy to watch the fire destroy the centre that holds many memories for him.
“It sucks because you grow up around this rink, play hockey here, and as far as the Oyster Festival, there are a lot of memories that are gone. It’s not easy to see it destroyed,” he said.
“It’s an uneasy feeling for me, but we will just try and get through day by day.”
A local resident shared the same feelings.
“It’s a huge loss for us," said Ronnie MacKendrick.
"I’ve been playing hockey here for many years, and my girls figure skate, my grandsons play hockey here. So this really is devastating for my family,”