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The call is out for Ponoka hockey memorabilia

A couple of Ponoka hockey moms are collecting pieces of local hockey history for a new public viewing space at the arena
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A new public viewing area, meant to connect hockey fans and the community through the generations past and present, is underway at the Ponoka Arena Complex.

A couple of hockey moms are working with the town to transform an upper room of the Ponoka Arena Complex into a viewing area and are asking local hockey fans to dig through their old photo albums and storage boxes for items they can contribute to the decor. 

The room overlooking the large ice surface, which is connected to the room over the curling rink, is being renovated into a new public viewing space.

Spearheading the project to restore local hockey history and decorate the space is Jessica McClure and Inge McKeeman. 

McClure said she was working with a couple of other ladies to clean out the tournament room when she found a few old photos. Then, her curiosity piqued, she found a few more treasures in the conference room. It was all just sitting in boxes, out of sight. 

"When I saw them all, I figured we should do something with them," said McClure. 

Andrew Jones, manager of Parks, Recreation and Facilities for the Town of Ponoka, agreed, and the project to renovate and revitalize the space began. 

The viewing area is being renovated to include all-new flooring, windows, wall features and T.V.s, said McClure. 

Knowing McKeeman does framing, McClure brought her in to make new frames for the jerseys. Some they already have, and some have been donated by Ponoka alumni players who are now in the WHL and NHL, said McClure.

McKeeman, an artist who has done a couple of murals in town (the train mural and a mural in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame), is working on an art piece for the space as well.

McClure said they're also hoping to add live streaming so parents or family can watch minor hockey games and practices remotely. 

The new viewing area will be open to the public and family friendly, so anyone go up and take a look around while taking in a game or practice, she said.

McClure added it would be wonderful if kids could go and see a photo of their grandpa playing hockey when they were 16, or their uncle. 

"It's kind of to connect everybody."

To complete the brewhouse-feel and make it a meaningful space for the community, the pair is still seeking donations of old team photos, jerseys, or other local hockey iconography. (No alcohol will be served in the viewing area.)

McClure has gotten a few responses from a Facebook post asking for donations, but they're hoping to find more. 

"Anything people think is important from back in the day ... Anybody in the community with anything in a box in the basement," said McClure, adding they'll accept anything from team photos, to jerseys and other items, to stories and more. 

According to McKeeman, the arena was renovated in the 90s, and a lot of the team photos from local teams over the decades were lost in the process somehow. 

"Nobody knows; it's a big mystery," said McKeenan. "We're missing huge gaps."

Ponoka Minor Hockey has already shared all the team photos they have, and the ladies has gotten some photos from the museum as well, but they're still looking for local team photos from all levels of hockey, both Ponoka and Maskwacis teams, said McKeeman.

"Hopefully people have things tucked away in photo albums," said McKeeman.

The organizers are most interested in old team photos, but other donations of hockey memorabilia would be most welcome although space will be limited, said McKeeman. 

She added any items they aren't able to use could be donated to Fort Ostell Museum after the project is completed. 

Those interested in donating items for the space can email inge.mckeeman@gmail.com. 

The goal is to hold a soft opening for the new viewing area in September. 

 



Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I'm a reporter for Ponoka News and have lived in Ponoka since 2015.
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