Jason Moreau has helped bring a little Canadiana to his new home in Eastern Washington this winter.
The Delta Secondary graduate and his family now live in Chesaw, WA, a town of about 1,000 residents and home of the Chesaw 4th of July Rodeo.
Every summer, thousands flock to the event and are transported back in time as they watch an authentic rodeo like no other. Each winter, the rodeo grounds succumb to the Okanagan Highland deep freeze and quietly collect snow. However, this year, Chesaw is receiving some new visitors thanks to the installation of an outdoor ice rink whose former home happened to be the UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
How the ice rink ended up in the little town is the universal story of how hockey captures the heart of boys young and old.
Moreau, who grew up playing hockey with South Delta Minor, was one of the main drivers of the project.
He moved his family to Oroville from White Rock at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago to ensure the border closure would not affect his business.
His love of hockey and outdoor skating inspired him to gather friends last winter to create a rink on Sidley Lake in nearby Molson, WA.
Frequently hauling his four wheeler, equipped with a plow and a make-shift water tank Zamboni to smooth the ice, Moreau introduced hockey to many of the local kids.
“We brought extra skates, sticks, nets, generators, lights and a fire-pit and anyone who wanted to could join in. We had many fun days and nights up at Sidley last winter but there were many people who were nervous about skating on the lake and the ice was challenging to keep smooth,” he recalled.
This fall, Moreau received an email from the Winthrop Rink, where his youngest son played hockey the prior year.
It mentioned how Winthrop had installed new backer boards and this caught his attention.
Moreau reached out to Winthrop and inquired about the old boards they had replaced. Unfortunately, those boards had been taken, but it sent him on a hunt to see what else he could find.
After several dead-ends, Moreau discovered a friend back in Canada had purchased the indoor ice rink from the high performance gym at UBC a few years prior. The friend had never installed the rink and it was sitting in a warehouse in Vancouver.
Transporting the ice rink in several loads proved difficult with winter driving conditions and the seemingly daily changes to cross border travel amid the pandemic. However, in a few weeks, the necessary pieces of the rink had arrived.
The inspiration on the location for the rink came after a snowmobiling day trip in Chesaw.
“We stopped at the Chesaw Tavern at the end of the day. Looking out at the empty rodeo grounds, I thought now there would be a fun place to have an ice rink. What a fun destination for people to enjoy the Okanagan highlands,” added Moreau.
He worked with locals groups to get the rink installed and ready for the first skate on New Year’s Day 2022. The ice rink has been dubbed the “Rodeo Rink” and is available to the public free of charge this winter season.