In the Making
If you didn’t live it, no doubt you have at least heard about the wonderful story of how our Lake of the Woods community came together to build our first-ever indoor arena from 1964 to 1965.
Dubbed the “Do-It-Yourself ” arena by The Des Moines Register, this arena was built entirely on volunteer labor and contributed funds. Approximately 85,000 – 90,000 board feet of popple (aspen) and spruce were harvested for the arena and construction began in 1964. Vic Humeniuk, postmaster and chairman of the arena board, lined up a crew chief and crews to work Monday through Friday from 6:00 p.m. until sunset. Whether you were a “coolie” – someone who was unskilled, but willing to work – or a “high climber”; there was a job for you. Young and old worked side by side, hauling materials, pounding nails and dreaming of the next hockey season. Vic kept the community apprised of the project by writing weekly progress reports and providing photos of the workers for the Baudette Region.
What resulted was a 112 x 224 foot hockey arena completed in time for the ‘65-’66 hockey season. The ice sheet measured 80 x 200 feet with enough room left over on the sides for bleachers. But to our community this was more than a building; it was a symbol of our collective efforts to realize a dream. According to records at the Lake of the Woods County Museum, “Of the 1,600 men, women, and children who comprise the village of Baudette, almost all helped. Close to 500 were recorded to have contributed $10.00 or more in volunteer labor, equipment, or money.” Indeed, the actual record from the arena board’s annual report from the fall of 1966 shows that 416 men logged 11,688 ½ labor hours valued at $14,499.60, equipment donations were valued at $5,323.20, and cash contributions totaled $17,355.75 for a grand total community commitment of $37,178.55. According to a Grand Forks Herald article dated December 13th, 1964, “The women of Baudette provide much needed project support. A group known as the Baudette Area Arena Ladies had promoted dozens of projects ranging from booster button sales to food stands to raise funds for the project.” Add it all up and what you get is a Herculean effort by our own people – a proud cornerstone of a legacy left by that generation and time.
This incredible structure did more than elevate our place and standing in Minnesota hockey. It became the hub of area activity. It made our dot on the map just below Lake of the Woods a little bigger. It brought our community together. In contrast to today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification – it’s the quality and character of the people – of our people – that makes this story most compelling and inspiring.
In the Words of Vic Humeniuk Himself, “TRULY AN OUTSTANDING DO-IT-YOURSELF PROJECT.”