SJR Hockey History & Heroes

posted: Monday, April 10, 2017

During spring break, a TSN executive producer visited SJR as part of a special they are airing on Mervyn 'Red' Dutton (of Dutton Memorial Arena) and the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The Arena officially opened at SJR on September 29, 1967; this year marking its 50-year anniversary.

This feature can be viewed here: bit.ly/2os7PlR

Who was Mervyn ‘Red’ Dutton?

Born in Russell, Manitoba in 1898, Mervyn ‘Red’ Dutton, (Class of 1916) attended St. John’s College School (SJCS).* He chose to leave school in 1915, one year prior to graduating, to serve in World War I. During the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, Dutton received a shrapnel blast to the right leg. The injury was so severe that doctors considered amputation. Luckily for Dutton, they delayed the surgery, and he began the long road to recovery. Upon returning to Winnipeg, he sought to strengthen his leg by playing in seven local hockey leagues during the 1919-1920 season.

Dutton turned pro in 1920, accepting $2,500 to play for the Calgary Tigers of the Western Canada Hockey League until 1926, twice making the first all-star team. He joined the NHL in 1926 and played for the Montreal Maroons until he was traded in 1930 to the New York Americans.

Dutton played for New York until 1936, after which he took over coaching and managing the club until 1942. In 1943 he accepted the position of NHL President, serving until 1964. He ended his involvement with hockey as a trustee of the Stanley Cup from 1950-87. Dutton was inducted into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958, the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 and the SJR Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

In the tradition of their father, Dutton’s sons Joe, Alex and Norman attended SJCS throughout the ’30s and ’40s. Sadly, Joe and Alex were killed in action in World War II. The Dutton Memorial Arena at SJR was named in Joe and Alex’s memory.

In the early ’60s, it became evident that Canada’s National Hockey team was at a disadvantage as the Europeans played on larger rinks. We needed a new training facility of international size (200 x 90 ft). As it turned out, the timing couldn’t have been better:  Father David Bauer, manager and coach of Canadian National Hockey Team, Gordon Jukes of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, SJCS alumni Red Dutton, newspaper publisher Max Bell, and former SJR Board Chair, James A. Richardson ’39 were all brought together. It was through their efforts that the Dutton Memorial Arena was born.

The new arena was to be used as a training headquarters for Canada’s National Hockey Team as well as a sports facility for the students of St. John’s-Ravenscourt School and the Winnipeg amateur hockey community.

Today, the Dutton Memorial Arena is the venue of many tournaments and hockey camps held throughout the year. It is also the home of the St. John’s-Ravenscourt Eagles hockey teams from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Dutton Memorial Arena Facts:

  • International size: 200ft. x 90ft. (the largest ice surface in Canada when built, and remains one of the largest in Winnipeg.)

  • At the time of construction, the ice pad contained 10 miles of brine piping and is constructed on a raised platform because of the sloping river bank.

  • The Dutton Memorial Arena is 26,796 sq ft. in total area and seats 600.

  • Built in summer of 1967 at a budget of $500,000 and opened on September 29, 1967.

  • Preceding the Opening Ceremony the Canadian National Team & the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings held a practice in the new arena.

Opening Ceremonies & Gala Dinner included dignitaries such as: NHL president
Clarence Campbell, King Clancy, Gordie Howe, Hon. Duff Roblin ’31, Mervyn ‘Red’ Dutton (Class of 1916), Norman Dutton ’44, Tom Bredin ’39, Max Bell ’29, J.A. Richardson ’39, Father Bauer, Walter Pratt and players of the Detroit Red Wings and Canadian National Team.

* In 1950, St. John’s College School and Ravenscourt School amalgamated and became St. John’s-Ravenscourt School (SJR).

Photos courtesy of the Martin H. Ainley Archives Centre at St. John's-Ravenscourt School.