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W. C. O'Neill Arena

24 Reed Avenue, St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2009/11/02

This photograph shows the contextual view of the arena, 2009; Town of St. Andrews
W. C. O'Neill Arena - Contextual view
This photograph illustrates the triangular projections of the front façade and cornice, 2009; Town of St. Andrews
W. C. O'Neill Arena - Modern design
This photograph shows the arena entrance, 2009; Town of St. Andrews
W. C. O'Neill Arena - Entrance

Other Name(s)

Sir James Dunn Arena
Aréna Sir James Dunn
W. C. O'Neill Arena

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/12

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.

Heritage Value

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.

Character-Defining Elements

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.



New Brunswick

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NB)

Recognition Statute

Local Historic Places Program

Recognition Type

Municipal Register of Local Historic Places

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

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.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Charlotte County Archives - Old Gaol - St. Andrews, N.B.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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