Frank’s Rink, as the acre-sized outdoor rink in Edgewater is known, is not only a hub for hockey, shinny, skating and more, but a reminder of one man’s love for his community: it’s a monument to Frank Schnider, who made maintaining the rink his passion for five years, from the time he retired at age 65 until he passed away at age 70 in 2005.
“When we were kids, we were always down at the rink,” explained Columbia Valley Community Foundation director Roberta Hall, who set up the fund along with her sisters, Jacquie, Theresa and Maureen. “Dad always loved skating; we used to go down to the sloughs every year and he would clear off a spot so we would have a place to skate.”
“My sisters and I were looking for a way to give back to the community; the fund is like a legacy for our family,” she added, noting her sister and mother both had milestone birthdays that year, but preferred to look long term rather than receive gifts.
The fund disburses money to the Edgewater Recreation Society, which looks after the acre-sized rink found at the corner of Purcell Avenue and Vermillion Street in Edgewater. (The rink was relocated from the old fire hall location, about a block away, roughly 25 years ago.)
The fund paid out for the first time in 2016 and the annual amount will only increase in the future.
Hall recalls her father’s dedication to the rink from the moment he left the workforce. In the summer, he would repair and replace wooden boards at the rink, and would collect his own firewood and make sure there was enough to last a winter at the rink’s outdoor fire pit. Starting in the fall, he would cut the grass under the rink so that water was ready to flood the rink to make perfect ice.
He even built a homemade Zamboni – a water barrel on the back of his tractor, heated with a propane torch, and a homemade smoothing mechanism that would surely make do-it-yourself enthusiast Red Green proud.
“He had these spouts, and this piece of green carpet that would drag behind; on the ice, sometimes you’d see these little shreds of green carpet,” explained Hall with a laugh. She recalls her father, who lived within view of the rink that now bears his name, would hold himself responsible for making sure the overhead lights were turned off each night, and would regularly walk down to replace a bulb he noticed had burnt out.
Frank would even drive his Zamboni on the ice each night before kids from the nearby elementary school skated on it, to ensure the ice was perfect. At the end of each school year, all the kids would sign a big construction paper thank you card for Frank.
Eventually, Edgewater received the old Zamboni from Canal Flats, and Frank’s Zamboni became the back-up machine.
“It’s hard to believe it all happened in just five years,” reflected Hall of her father’s passion for the rink. “Our family is proud to be giving back to the community that has given us so much.”