Work on the Civic Arena began in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression and used relief workers for construction. When it opened, the Civic was billed as ‘the only structure of its kind between Vancouver and the Kootenays that is equipped with artificial ice.
The original building had a façade on the front and back that made the structure look larger than it actually was. By the ‘50s the façade was gone and the building had more of a traditional arena shape for the remainder of its days. Over the past 80 years, the arena has played host to countless hockey games, ice dances, and community skates, but it also acted as a community centre, where banquets, concerts, dances, exhibitions, and even canoe jousting occurred within the building.
The Vernon Vipers returned to the Civic Arena from their current home Kal Tire Place, to play the Prince George Spruce Kings at Civic Arena, January 6, 2018. This game was to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the first game ever played in the Civic Arena, January 6, 1938, an exhibition contest between the Vancouver Lions and the Spokane Clippers.
The Civic Arena will be remembered as a central fixture in the life of Vernon for 80 years, from the great hockey rivalries to the story of the first kiss in the bleachers during a dance.