On Feb. 25, Henry Stainthorp got the surprise of his life when the Spruce Avenue Community League (SACL) announced the renaming of Spruce Avenue Community Rink to The Henry Stainthorp Community Rink. 

Henry worked for Edmonton Northlands Coliseum for 35 years, where he served the Edmonton Oilers as their head ice maker. 

In the early 2000s, the SACL had been the victim of embezzlement. This left the hall in disarray with no funds to sustain its facilities. After his retirement in 1995, Henry helped revitalize the hall and its facilities. Over time, he helped build the rink boards and players’ boxes, and he also worked on the rink itself.

His wife, Verna, has witnessed his dedication, as she’s also volunteered at the community league for more than 25 years. “He works long hours to ensure the ice is in good condition,” says Verna. Ashley Ayume, league president, adds, “Henry is a mainstay in [the Spruce Avenue] community. He is a perfect example of what and who makes this area great.” 

The rink had completely resurfaced by 1999, and the hall was expanded to add two dressing rooms. On top of this, Henry accumulated an array of skates and helmets for the children and adults who wanted to use the rink during winter. He also made connections with the community throughout the years and collaborated with local schools. 

Henry says, “[My greatest enjoyment has been] to provide an opportunity for young skaters to learn how to skate.” He says he’s “witnessed many young kids who did not know how to skate who now enjoy skating and getting a stick into their hands.” 

This surprise was unveiled during the community’s annual Winter Fest, which was well-attended by Henry’s whole family and many community members. Also present was NDP MLA David Shepherd, who awarded Henry with a congratulatory certificate to acknowledge his outstanding community service.

“There’s a lot of ways that folks give back to the community and I can’t think of one more quintessentially Canadian,” says Shepherd as he shook Henry’s hand. 

Members of the SACL came together to put up a new rink sign which reads “Henry Stainthorp Community Rink” with his bright, smiling face on the left-hand side. 

“We will never be able to truly thank him for all his effort,” says Ayume, “but [naming the rink after him] is a small token of our appreciation.”