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Gerry Murphy memories

Chris Hunsley
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 03/04) - Although he only lived in Yellowknife for 11 years, Gerry Murphy left a lasting impact on Yellowknife and its culture.

Already an experienced businessman in the North, the man inspired to build the city's first indoor hockey rink arrived on the shores of the Great Slave Lake in 1937.

Almost instantly, the former World War I captain immersed himself in the city's culture and community.

Joining the Masons and the Elks Lodge, he also held the post of first president of the Yellowknife Board of Trade and first president of the Canadian Legion.

But it was as a member of the Board of Trustees for Yellowknife -- the former city council -- that may have allowed Murphy his longest-lasting impact.

During the mid-1940s, Yellowknife was a golden Northern mining town and Murphy was able to lend his input for the planning of much of the infrastructure we now know.

Then came the arena project.

After he personally raised $15,000 and secured a promise from the federal government for matching funds, construction of the city's first indoor skating rink began in September 1948.

But Murphy passed away Oct. 3, 1948, never to see his dream come true. The first phase of construction was underway.

On Oct. 24, 1948 though, the city's Board of Trustees moved to name the new rink "Gerry Murphy Arena."

The structure which remained a landmark on Yellowknife's Frame Lake shore for 56 years was home to the first Arctic Winter Games and helped maintain a love of hockey within the fabric of the town.