Wayne Buttle recognized by Council for his dedication to Ivor MacDonald Memorial Arena

Municipality of Pictou County Warden Robert Parker, left, and District 10 Coun. Randy Palmer present Wayne Buttle with a plaque of recognition for his commitment and work with District 13 Recreation and Planning Commission as well as the Ivor MacDonald Memorial  Arena. Buttle has been arena manager for 41 years. 

PICTOU, NS - A Coalburn man who has dedicated his life to making sure Pictou East children have a place to play has been recognized by Council for the Municipality of Pictou County.

Wayne Buttle, manager of the Ivor MacDonald Memorial Arena for 41 years, was honoured during April’s Council meeting Monday.  

District 10 Coun. Randy Palmer said Buttle is a founding member of the District 13 Recreation and Planning Commission that formed in 1971 with a goal in mind to build the arena so children of Pictou East would have a place to play hockey, ringette or figure skate.

“Its objective was to provide sport and recreation as well as to provide facilities for carrying out such objectives. In 1972, the District 13 Recreation and Planning Commission ordered steel for the arena with only $187 in the bank and the total project cost $350,000,” said Coun. Palmer.

The arena opened its doors in October 1974 and Wayne became the manager of the Ivor MacDonald Memorial Arena in 1975 and left in 1978 to start his own business.

“In 1980, the arena manager resigned and stated the arena couldn’t operate under the current structure,” said Coun. Palmer. “The planning commission held an emergency meeting and asked Wayne if he would return as manager and he accepted, and the arena continued to thrive.  This year will mark the arena’s 45th Anniversary and Wayne continues to be manager for 41 of those years. “

Coun. Palmer said as manager, Buttle kept arena operating in the black despite the many updates and improvements it needed over the years.   It went through many changes including replacing wood boards with plastic, solid glass around the arena, added new compressors to the plant room and in 1996 the addition was added to the arena. The 30 by 100 addition included a new entrance, new male and female washrooms, two large dressing rooms, furnace room and a games room.  This work was done by Buttle, an arena employee and summer students.

Also, in 1996, in order to reduce energy costs, Buttle got an outdoor wood furnace donated and the arena started to burn wood to keep heat in the new addition, as well as the other dressing rooms and the annex.

He would later add a second outdoor furnace to heat the hot water for cleaning the ice as well as the Zamboni and figure skating rooms.  

“The arena burns approximately 50 to 60 cords of wood a winter and Wayne handles most of the wood himself.  Burning wood is one of the reasons why the arena runs in the black,” said Coun. Palmer.

From 2002 to 2009, Buttle was responsible for the arena’s major renovations.  The replacing of the roof, new inside ceiling, Zamboni, major ice plant equipment and new viewing area from the annex to mention a few.

In 2015, Buttle saw the need for additional dressing rooms because the high number of females playing hockey in Thorburn, so he converted the games room to two large dressing rooms for females. The arena employs four seasonal workers including Buttle. 

“For many, many years, Wayne has loaned money to the arena so it could pay its bills until outstanding accounts were paid. There aren’t too many people that would do this, but he did it because of the children,” Palmer said. “It is all because of the children he has been so dedicated to the arena for so many years.”

In addition to the arena, District 13 Recreation and Planning Commission also built the Thorburn ball park in 1985 and Buttle was a volunteer on the building and maintaining the facility.  He also served as a Councillor for the Municipality of Pictou County from 1991-1997.

“I always loved kids so they can have a chance to participate,” said Buttle after accepting a plaque from Council in honour of the recognition. “Things have changed and we must carry on.  The biggest thing in our life is our children.”