Outdoor rink memorializes Benjamin Batters
There’s a special sort of blessing that comes from watching somebody open a gift that you have given them.
That blessing grows, if you are able to see that person use that gift and appreciate it.
For Alan Batters, these are the blessings that flow back to him, when he looks out at the view through his window.
Three years ago, Batters (owner of Gee Bee Construction) says that he was asked if he would be willing to build something quite different.
“We were getting ready for a Winter Carnival and Tamara Woroschuk approached me. She asked if I’d be willing to build an outdoor skating rink for the carnival.
“I happened to have the perfect place for an outdoor rink.
“The property right across the street from me was where the old hospital used to be.
“After the new hospital was built, the old one was torn down. I ended up approaching Sun Country Health and bought the property. When Tamara approached me about the rink, I stood here and looked through the window at that property.
“It seemed to me that it would be an ideal place for a skating rink.
“So, I went ahead and built the rink for the carnival.”
After the carnival was over, Batters says that he was moved to continue providing the outdoor rink to the community, in memory of his son Benjamin.
Benjamin’s first passion was definitely music. But he enjoyed playing hockey too.
He was among the last generation of babies to be born in the old hospital.
And as it turned out, the old hospital would be the place where he would pass away in 2013, on Christmas Day.
That location is a special place.
“So last year, I decided to continue working on the rink and to put Benjamin’s name on it,” says Batters.
Not content with simply maintaining the rink he had already built, Batters explains that he began to expand and improve it.
“Last year, I made the rink bigger and had some benches and firepits put in along the edge of it. I also had lights and music put in. And, I bought a Zamboni. I had Benjamin’s photo put on it. That way, whenever it was on the ice, he would be on the ice too.”
As he looked out through his window last year, Batters was able to see the impact that his gift was having on the community.
“Last year, the rink was used so much that it was just crazy!
“We had to flood the rink twice a day for a while. There was that much traffic on it!!
“Every day, you could sit here and look out the window and see kids out skating on the rink.
“You could see kids walking out here after school, bringing their skates and hockey stick.
“And you could see people sitting at the firepits, watching their kids skate.
“I’ve also seen people there that might not ever go to skate at the arena. That rink is more like a natural pond. They can come here. and skate whenever they like. They don’t have to pay any fee. And they don’t have any ‘audience’ watching them.
“They can just come to the rink, skate and be there.
“I spend a lot of time skating on that ice with my other three kids.
“When the weather is nice, the rink is a great place to be.”
As the story about his outdoor rink has spread, Batters says that others have been inspired to follow his lead.
“I’ve had Town Councils from a number of communities approach me. They’re interested in building an outdoor community rink of their own, which I think is great.”
He goes on to say that some people living in other communities have been led to contribute to the rink in Kipling.
“I got a call the other day from Harvey Harriott. He’s the owner of BMTR in Meadow Lake.
“Harvey is an old friend. He’s in construction as well. He told me that someone had contacted him, wanting to donate 25 cords of wood to the rink.
“Harvey also told me that he’s going to donate the trucking to bring the wood down.
“I told him that the donation would be appreciated. We bought about 15 – 16 cords of wood last year. So, 25 cords is a generous gift that will go a long way!
“That’s the kind of thing that’s been happening. Word gets around about this, and people want to take part in it somehow.”
Batters says that he and a group of volunteers have been working to get the rink ready for this year.
“I added more lights and music this year, and there are now 10 benches and firepits. I also had Benjamin’s photo put into the ice.
“It’s the same photo that’s on the Zamboni.
“There’s been a whole group of volunteers coming out to help. Bobby Brynel has given a huge amount of his time and effort to the rink. Some of the guys from Gee Bee volunteer to help with it too. Others just come and help as much as they are able.
“So, this really has been a community effort.
“We opened the rink up for skating last Sunday, it was such a nice day.
“But we closed it temporarily after that, so that we could paint the lines on it.”
The rink was to be open and ready to go on Friday, Dec. 17th.
He adds that he is looking forward to seeing the rink used again this year.
“It’s especially nice to look out the window and see kids skating on the rink, with the fires going in the background.
“Sometimes there’s frost in the trees, so they light up particularly well.
“If we get a bit of snow, it is going to look great!”
This is of course, the time of year, when we are reminded of how great the blessing can be, that comes from a gift.
These blessings that Alan Batters receives when he looks out through his window at the skating rink he built, are blessings that we can understand. These are the sort of blessings that many of us have experienced.
But perhaps, when Alan Batters looks through his window, there is also a unique blessing that flows back to him as well.
Because perhaps there is another, who can see the view through that same window, and appreciate the gift that his father has given.