Raise The Roof tournament returns to Calabogie, Ont. this weekend to fund outdoor rink

Calabogie’s outdoor skating is one of a kind in the Ottawa Valley.

The full-size hockey rink is covered with an end-to-end roof with new amenities being added every year, and it’s paid for by the community.

“When we were kids growing up and developing fond memories out on this ice we thought of ways of how we could create something that’s fun for everybody and for the whole community,” Calabogie resident Dan Charbonneau said.

The idea spitballed from a kitchen table discussion into the Raise The Roof hockey tournament, a two-day fundraiser started by Charbonneau to help pay for the rink’s roof.

After a two-year COVID hiatus, the tournament is back for its fifth edition this weekend.

“So with this tournament so far we’ve raised over $30,000,” Charbonneau tells CTV News.

“This weekend we’re going to be around another $15,000 between all the different teams participating, various donations, and sponsors.”

Over the years, Raise The Roof has helped fund a new sound system, score clock, lights, and heated dressing rooms. The next upgrade Charbonneau wants to make is replacing the chain-link fence around the boards of the outdoor rink with glass.

“I think it’s great,” says Calabogie resident Brett Clouthier, who has played in the tournament every year.

“It’s a good fundraiser that got this place going, so having the roof has been a bit of a game changer around here.”

“People are impressed with it, so it’s really nice to see Calabogie have something that a lot of people don’t have,” adds his mother, Lisa Clouthier, a life long Calabogie resident. “So we’re lucky.”

This weekend 14 teams and roughly 250 players from across Ontario registered to play in Charbonneau’s tournament, including 15 ex-professional players and dozens of NCAA, CIS, and OHL players.

Headlining the list of former pros participating is Ottawa Senators alumni Chris Neil.

“To see a community get together to build an outdoor rink like this facility, it’s unbelievable,” says Neil, who cottages in the area.

“The backyard feel and the hometown feel, that’s what this has and it brings you back to your childhood memories.”

Despite years of participating, Neil still hasn’t taken home a Raise The Roof trophy yet. This year, Neil is bulking up his team’s roster with fellow former Senators player and Calabogie resident Mike Blunden.

“This week, I was here with the school,” Blunden tells CTV News, referencing St. Joseph’s Catholic School just up the road from the outdoor rink on Mill Street.

“The kids from the school come over and skate. It’s good for the kids to get out of class and for some kids it was their first time skating so they get to experience that. And having this rink right next to the school for kids to walk over, it’s just great for our community.”

Charbonneau has slowly transformed his tournament weekend into one of the busiest Calabogie sees annually, and he plans to continue the fundraising initiative as long as players keep coming out.

“For this, it’s the buzz of our little town,” Charbonneau said.

“For this to happen it’s hard to find words to think of the growth we’ve had.”

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