60 years of sport in Esquimalt at Archie Browning Sports Centre

June 30, 2021
Esquimalt News

News release
For immediate release

 

Esquimalt’s Archie Browning Sports Centre celebrates another decade on July 1. It’s the 60th anniversary for the community sports hub.

Over the last 60 years the Archie Browning Sports Centre has been the venue for a number of notable events, including a performance by legendary Danish comedian, conductor and pianist Victor Borge in 1962, an autograph signing by “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe in 1965, the Steve Miller Band in 2013 and the 1994 Commonwealth Games boxing events. The facility has also been the Skate Canada training facility for renowned athletes including Elvis Stojko, Josee Chouinard, Kris Wirtz and Sherry Ball. In addition, the township hosted the Chinese Women’s Olympic Curling Team ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Games.

The building is home to several clubs and community sport leagues. More recently, the sports centre has taken on a different role functioning as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. 
The centre was originally opened on June 29th, 1961, by Grace Patrick, widow of legendary hockey icon Lester Patrick. The centre is named in honour of Archie Browning, an excellent all-around athlete and an outstanding lacrosse player who was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1971. At the time, it was the only arena besides the Memorial Arena and was the region’s second curling rink.

In 2011, a significant facility upgrade took place thanks to federal government funding to help modernize the building’s equipment and improve energy efficiency. 

A visual retrospective of the building, memorabilia and events can be found in a gallery at Esquimalt.ca/SportsCentre. Highlights include some recently donated items from the 1960s-80s that have yet to be shared with the community. Some of the recently-donated memorabilia comes via Joe Iannarelli. Joe was the sport centre’s manager from 1961-1981 and is remembered as an influential force in the development of many sports including hockey, curling, figure skating, broomball and golf.

Quotes

“This milestone for the Archie Browning Sports Centre is a time to reflect on both its history and current role in the community. Not only is the centre a home for many of our local sports associations, but has played host to high-level athletic events. I’m very proud of the contribution the centre and staff have made to support vaccination efforts during the pandemic.”
Barbara Desjardins, Mayor of the Township of Esquimalt

“Congratulations on the anniversary. I still remember first meeting the then rink manager Ron Aubry some 21 years ago. He welcomed us and gave us the news we wanted to hear. Yes, we could relocate to Archie Browning that fall. We have always appreciated the long-lasting relationship we have enjoyed, cooperating in joint ventures to help improve the ice rink.

Whether it's pond hockey, co-oping the electronic board or just helping out in some way for a promotion we are glad to assist.

We wish to thank you all for the flexibility the rink extends to us and look forward to a mutually beneficial season.”
Marcel Fisher, Governor for Victoria Cougars Junior Hockey Club

“Congratulations to the Archie Browning Sports Centre on your 60th Anniversary! The Archie Browning Sports Centre (ABSC) has been home to curling in Esquimalt since opening in 1961. The facility and the volunteer spirit of our curling community have been a highlight of the many club-level, regional, provincial, national, and international competitions hosted by the Esquimalt Curling Club.

Curling at ABSC provides an athletic and social outlet for more than 600 curlers in 20 different leagues in the Esquimalt Curling Club.

The Esquimalt Curling Club is proud to call the Archie Browning Sports Centre home and we would like to acknowledge the support our club has received from the Township of Esquimalt and the staff at the Archie Browning Sports Centre.” 
Torben Wilson, President, Esquimalt Curling Club

View the slide show
 

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Contact
Tara Zajac
Manager of Communications
250-475-7122