Around the Nation
A column by Tom Van Dusen
There are doting grandparents… and then there are Alaine Chartrand’s grandparents!
David and Christine Chartrand are in a league of their own. To show their appreciation and admiration of the apple of their eye, they paid $500,000 for the naming rights for the new Prescott arena, financing for which was recently announced.
Top that, all you other grandparents out there! Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Chartrand, the new recreation complex to be located in the northwest corner of town where summer ball diamonds already exist will be known as the Alaine Chartrand Arena.
It’s not that an undeserving name will be slapped up on the marquis just to collect cash for the building campaign! Alaine is as deserving of the honour as anybody in South Grenville, more deserving than most.
Now 25, Chartrand won five medals at seven Canadian skating championships, including gold in 2016 and again in 2019. She represented Canada at three world championships. Prescott’s retired Leo Boivin Arena was her home base.
She grew up nearby in Augusta Township — which is partnering in the project — and began skating in the “Leo” — named after another local sports ice icon — when she was four years old. She was the last skater on the ice when the beloved facility was decommissioned in 2018. There was an ammonia leak and it was decided it wasn’t feasible to repair the failing equipment.
Prescott has been without its own ice surface ever since. Iceless, the Leo Boivin Community Centre still serves as a meeting and indoor recreation hall, and still carries the name of the former NHL’er and Hall of Fame member who played 19 seasons with five different teams from 1951 to 1970 before returning to his home town where, at 89, he continues to reside.
Almost as soon as the old arena closed for good, a local fundraising campaign was launched to help with construction of a replacement. Dances and draws were held and cash began pouring in. With the onset of COVID-19 and no funding pledges from senior levels of government, the drive went into what co-chair Judi Baril calls the “quiet phase”… during which 75 per cent of a $3.2 million goal was quietly poured into the kitty. The Chartrand gift is an important stimulus in going the rest of the way.
Late last month, the federal and provincial governments kicked in $9.7 million and, with $4.8 to come from the town including funds raised, nobody from Baril, to Mayor Brett Todd, to the Chartrands has any trouble believing shovels will be in the ground later this summer.
Recalling the town did whatever it could to make sure the future Canadian champion had enough ice time at the Leo, Todd is delighted Alaine Chartrand’s name will be up in lights at the new arena which will feature an ice pad and seating for 800 sports fans, a walking track, meeting and training rooms, canteen, skate sharpening service, and children’s centre. Existing ball diamonds are to be relocated nearby to create a recreational district.
As for Leo Boivin… the hometown hero won’t be lost in the new order, Todd and Baril have indicated. It’s important to local residents that his name continues to be recognized, Baril emphasizes.
The foyer will be named in Boivin’s honour and, with 250 bricks selling for $100 each, a brick “Welcome to the Leo” inscription will greet visitors entering the new building.
Leo Boivin! Alaine Chartrand! Not every town can boast such a high-powered one-two sports punch!