Born in Welsford, N.S. Jan. 20, 1921, Cyril Ellsworth Kinsman was the youngest son of a very large family. With his wife Ruth, he lived his life (and they raised four children) in Welsford, where Cyril farmed and also served as an apple inspector for the Department of Agriculture.
Cyril's family, known for their boxing prowess, also took a keen interest in other sports as well. In 1960, Cyril found his way to the Berwick Arena along with his son Davey, a talented young hockey player.
Not long after that, Cyril became manager of the Berwick Arena, which had just installed artificial ice. In order to qualify for the job, he had to write a Stationary Engineer's exam, which he did and passed.
Ensuring that the arena operated to its full capacity was a big objective, and one Cyril took very seriously. He helped coach minor hockey, organized the local Junior High School Hockey League and the 'Apple Knocker' League, helped with the local Scout league and worked tirelessly to help the figure skating club.
Cyril, along with other prominent citizens, was instrumental in bringing Grand Prix Wrestling to Berwick and operating it at the arena for many years. This turned out to be an excellent vehicle for raising funds for the operation of the rink. Cyril “didn't just run the arena, he 'was' the arena.” He appreciated the many children who frequented the rink, and was a great teacher, especially in teaching the young people valuable life lessons.
In the early 1960s, you could go skating at the arena every day after school. It cost a dime, but a dime was a lot of money in those days, so many youngsters would sneak into the arena to go skating. The story goes that Cyril would come by and say to a youngster, “I'll need some help scraping the ice when skating is done today.” He always seemed to know, and it was important to him that all kids were able to participate.
Cyril single-handedly ran a bantam hockey program that in its heyday included 48 boys aged 12 to 14. He organized four teams of 11 or 12 players; each team had a first and second line, two sets of defensemen and a goalie. The top lines on each team played against one another, then he would blow the whistle and the second lines would take to the ice, in order to keep the competition as even as possible. If a player didn't show up on a given day, he could be replaced, but only on the line on which the missing boy was playing. Everyone played at his own level, and Cyril had a little book in which he kept track. One former player, recalling this league, remarks that it was “the most fun I ever had playing hockey.”
Cyril was also an innovator. He was the first arena manager to fence off the visitors' bench and the penalty box, which became affectionately known as 'Joe Clark's Chicken Coop' after a regular occupant.
After seeing a young Berwick hockey player break his leg falling into the goalpost, Cyril devised rubber tube inserts to hold the posts in place while at the same time, allowing enough give that the net would come off, thus cutting down on injuries. He was also one of the first to use a sprayer to repair the goal areas and other sections of the ice surface.
Cyril, who passed away in Berwick Oct. 16, 1992, managed the Berwick Arena for almost 25 years. His dedication to all facets of his job, his ingenuity, his sense of caring and fair play all served him well.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, posthumously, in the Builder's category, a most special of builders, the late Cyril Kinsman.
Inducted June 2011