Sir James Dunn Arena
Aréna Sir James Dunn
W. C. O'Neill Arena
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Built in 1962, the W. C. O’Neill Arena is a brick two-storey, multi-purpose facility built in the Modernism style. It is located on Reed Avenue in the Town of St. Andrews.
The W. C. O’Neill Arena is designated a Local Historic Place for its architecture, for its association with historically significant people and events and for being a contributing element to the infrastructure in the Town of St. Andrews.
The W. C. O’Neill Arena is recognized as an excellent example of Modernism architecture in St. Andrews that provides curling rinks, a hockey rink, a theatre and a banquet room. The Arena Complex Theatre has 122 seats and the stage is 4.25 metres deep by 7.5 metres wide. A unique component of this arena is the rhythmic triangular projections along the façade in sequence with the triangular projection of the roof line. The building is well lighted as a result of its abundant window space. The architects for the first phase of construction were Associated Designers and Inspectors and architect for the second phase was John Disher. The contractors were Moncton-based Modern Construction Ltd.
The W. C. O’Neill Arena is also recognized for its rich beginnings and the people associated with it. The arena came to fruition from the Sir James Dunn Foundation in 1962. Sir James Dunn, a summer resident at St. Andrews, was one of the world’s richest men and left an estate of 68 million when he passed away in 1956. His widow, Lady Dunn, born Marcia Anastasia Christoforides, was left with a large estate and was left as administrator of a fund to be used for charitable purposes. She became one of Canada’s most prominent philanthropists donating nearly $300 million (at today’s value) to support education, cultural undertakings and wildlife preservation. In New Brunswick, she provided a living legacy through her generous donations to education and the arts. She gave away one million dollars a year in Canada, mostly to New Brunswick. She gave 3 million dollars for the arena’s construction and the arena was given $300,000 per year in operating expenses. 3,000 people gathered for the grand opening and cheered Lady Dunn as she threw the first rock in the curling rink. Much of the infrastructure of St. Andrews is due to Lady Dunn, namely the Lady Dunn Trade School, Sir James Dunn Academy, Sir James Dunn Fire Department and the local legion. The arena was formerly the Sir James Dunn Arena but was renamed the W. C. O’Neill Arena in 1991.
William Charles O’Neill was the arena’s first manager and his accomplishments in sport in St. Andrews are many. He brought the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues to this arena for their training camps when they boasted names such as Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey and legendary coach Scotty Bowman. The St. Andrews Hockey School was known throughout North America and, in 1971, the school catered to more than 2500 students over 11 weeks. Every province and 21 American states have been represented in the St. Andrews Hockey School.
Source: Charlotte County Archives, Old Gaol, St. Andrews, N.B.
The character-defining elements of the W. C. O’Neill Arena include:
- two-storey brick construction;
- rhythmic triangular projections in the front façade in sequence with the triangular projections of the roof line;
- proportion of wall and glass space;
- window and entrance proportions;
- exterior bronze medallion portraying an image of Sir James Hamet Dunn;
- exterior plaques commemorating Sir James Dunn and W. C. O’Neill;
- continued original use as a sports and recreation facility.
Local Governments (NB)
Local Historic Places Program
Municipal Register of Local Historic Places
1991/01/01 to 1991/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Building Social and Community Life
- Community Organizations
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Sports and Leisure
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
- Sports Facility or Site
- Recreation Centre
- Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub
Architect / Designer
Associated Designers and Inspectors
Modern Construction Ltd.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Charlotte County Archives - Old Gaol - St. Andrews, N.B.
Cross-Reference to Collection