In February 1942, the first annual Rotary Ice Carnival took place at the Civic Arena in Nanaimo. This popular event was organized by the Nanaimo Rotary Club as a fundraiser for the newly formed figure skating club in Nanaimo, with the assistance of the Vancouver Skating Club who helped to organize. Rotary felt it was important to support the Nanaimo Figure Skating club as it encouraged young people who were not necessarily interested in hockey to use the Civic Arena, a local recreation facility that had been constructed in 1939 to address the lack of youth recreation opportunities in the community.
The Ice Carnival featured awe-inspiring performances by professional figure skaters who showcased their skills on the ice in spectacular fashion. The event was such a success that Rotary continued to host it annually, continuing throughout the war, attracting bigger and bigger audiences each year. To organize the event, it was a tremendous amount of work and every member of the Nanaimo Rotary Club was involved.
Unfortunately, costs to produce the show became too high. After the 1955 Ice Carnival, facing a $8,000 production cost with little return to the community, the Rotarians decided to cancel the event. Despite its unfortunate ending, the annual Ice Carnival brought excitement to the community and financial success to the figure skating club throughout these thirteen years.
Rotary, the first service club in North America, has long standing roots in Nanaimo, beginning in the community in 1920. Over the many years of operation, the Rotary Club has raised countless funds for both local community groups, as well as world community projects. (Photo from the Nanaimo Archive)