Capturing a bit of Thompson's history: The 'old' United Rentals building on Nelson Road

Thompsonites like a good tale when it comes to our local folklore. When your history only goes back 54 years, you tend to make the most of it.

Many local residents probably know the story of how Thompson got its first "temporary" indoor arena in 1965. An old aircraft hangar was purchased by the Local Government District of Mystery Lake for $1 and moved from Bird, about 300 kilometres northeast of Thompson and just before Fox Lake on the Bayline, and reconstructed here to become the rink named in 1967, the year after it opened, as the C.A Nesbitt Arena, after the local government district resident administrator, Carl Nesbitt.

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The aircraft hangar in the aptly-named Bird was retired from its earlier purpose as part of a Mid Canada Line site between the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line in the Arctic and the Pinetree Line further south, the Mid Canada Line (also known as the McGill Fence) consisted of military sites along the 55th parallel, designed to detect enemy aircraft that had penetrated into the heart of North America. In the 1960s, it was shut down, with western sites decommissioned in January 1964 and the eastern sites in April 1965.

Some local residents also thought the old United Rentals building at 137 Nelson Rd, which did look something like an aircraft hangar, might have also been moved here from elsewhere like the structure that became the arena.

United Rentals, a Greenwich, Conn.-based company, is the largest equipment rental outfit in the world. The company offers for rent over 2,900 classes of rental equipment.

In June 2008 it announced plans to build a $1.5-million new 15,000-square-foot facility on the location, to replace its 46-year-old outlet. The new building opened earlier this year and a grand opening is planned for next month. The old building was demolished April 27

Jim Brown, branch manager for United Rentals here, offered to dig around, as it were, and get the correct history of the old building."Adrian Baker built his shop along the same prints, beams and piles as the United Church in about 1964," Brown said.St. John's United Church was established in September 1959.

"The beams were of a glulam construction. No one can remember if they built the beams on site or brought them in. Adrian was Ospwagon Construction and he also founded Burntwood in 1968 then sold Burntwood over time to Ron Coleman, Ron sold out and left town in 1972.

"Later on the wings on the sides were added by the Campbell's. Ron said the piles in the church and for Adrian's building came from cut off's from the construction of the T3 headframe. The slag was hauled in to build up the yard by Tetreault Trucking who had the ore haul from T3 to T1 before it was all underground."

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