Jock Harty Arena

[Jock Harty Arena circa 1900]

The ice rink circa 1900

Queen’s students have been strapping on skates and heading for the ice since the 1880s. At first their game was rough even by shinny standards; they used short, crude sticks and oddly-shaped pucks. A square-cut rock puck dating from these early days is today on display in Kingston’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

Over time, hockey rivalries began to emerge: Queen’s annually battled the Royal Military College on Kingston’s frozen harbour.

In 1891, hockey moved indoors at Queen’s when a rink with a rounded, corrugated rook over it and a narrow, ice-level platform for spectators opened. The Queen’s Journal described the place as “a prehistoric example of bad architecture,” but nonetheless, hockey legends were born on its ice. 

The original Jock Harty Arena was built in 1922 to to replace this primitive skating rink, which had burned down earlier that year.

John Joseph Harty, a Kingston doctor, hockey coach, and former star of Queen's great hockey teams of the 1890s, had died of the Spanish Flu in 1919. In 1921, his grieving father, Kingston politician-industrialist William Harty, pledged $25,000 for the construction of a new arena on Queen’s campus. Friends and classmates supplied the rest of the funding, and the 4,500-seat, all-wood arena carried Jock's name.

The arena held a skating and hockey rink, an indoor running track, and six tennis courts located on the roof.

[ Queen’s Golden Gaels Women’s Hockey Game]
 Queen’s Golden Gaels Women’s Hockey Game

When fire destroyed the new building in 1924 (see fires), the university hastily rebuilt the arena, installing an artificial ice surface for the first time and reducing the seating to 2,400 seats so as to expand the ice surface. The arena became a fixture of student life at Queen’s, hosting intercollegiate hockey on Fridays and Saturdays and public skating and intramural hockey throughout the week.

The second Jock Harty Arena stood on the same location as its predecessor until it was torn down in 1968 to make way for Humphrey Hall, a new psychology building. The university, now bursting at the seams from 1960s growth, announced that the arena would have to go to make room for academic buildings. The Ontario government compounded the situation by announcing that it would not help fund non-academic buildings.

[people playing tennis on the roof of Jock Harty Arena]
Tennis courts on the roof of the Jock Harty Arena, 1973. Courtesy Wallace R. Berry.

Queen’s students were indignant. An AMS committee lobbied the trustees, saying that the absence of an arena would create an “imbalance” in student life. Alumni joined in the chorus of protest: the Alumni Association passed a resolution “deploring” the loss. A student referendum approved a fee in support of the construction of a new arena. Nonetheless, in February 1968 the bulldozers arrived and the Jock Harty arena disappeared.

Thankfully, relief was at hand. The Ontario government relented and promised partial financial support for a new arena. The trustees fell into line and in 1971 a new Jock Harty arena opened at the corner of Union and Division. Hockey, skating, convocations, concerts and even tennis on its roof thrived at the new Jock Harty.

The third version of Jock Harty Arena was torn down in 2007 as part of the new Queen's Centre construction. Hockey at Queen’s is now played at the Memorial Centre, a few blocks north of campus.