People take their hockey serious in Rossland.
So when Rossland-based filmmaker and hockey fanatic Scott Carlson heard there was a move afoot to replace the classic 1972 Ford 3000 tractor used to flood the city’s arena after 40 years of dutiful use, he went on the offence.
It was a classic piece of Canadiana, he reasoned, and if it was destined to be replaced he would pay proper homage to it and not let it go quietly into the dark night.
In December, during a slow time for Carlson and his five-person Juicy Studios film crew, he “camped out” in the arena for a week and shot footage of the tractor.
When it was all put together into the two-minute tribute film The Flood, and it was released soon after to the web (http://vimeo.com/34811539), within two weeks the video had over 50,000 views — and Rossland City Hall was inundated by calls from “the nostalgic lobby group” asking for a reprieve for the tractor.
Carlson said he had only initially heard a rumour the city was considering retiring the tractor at the end of the year and replacing it with a newer Zamboni — a move championed by another local lobby group — and never claimed it was fact.
“But we just decided to do something in case they did replace it to make sure there was some documentation on how sweet the tractor was,” he said. “Just the fact that people were that into it and wanted to express their love for the tractor was cool.”
When Carlson started researching where the tractor was originally built — in the United Kingdom — he saw an unusual story line take shape, making it a biographical piece about an agricultural immigrant being accepted and finding a new home in North America.
Narrated by Englishman Rob Sulman, who grew up near where the tractor was built in Basildon, Essex, their life stories contained some similarities as Sulman — roughly the same age as the machine — now calls Rossland home.
“I’m always looking for a creative way to tell a story, so it was fun to go in and find something about hockey without really making it obviously about hockey,” said Carlson.
Built in 1972, the tractor traveled across the Atlantic to Eastern Canada before it landed in Creston and was sold to the City of Rossland. Since that date the tractor has been used only for cleaning the ice at the arena.
And it has proved its worth. Carlson found out the tractor has been in use seven times a day during the week and up to 12 times on the weekend, meaning it has scraped a lot of miles of ice in its 40 years.
Four decades ago it took two people to operate the ice-cleaning machine, with one person pouring water into a dump bucket that flooded the ice while the other drove the tractor. An automatic resurfacer has since been installed, meaning only one person was required to operate it.
There haven’t been many other modifications since and it has been well maintained throughout its life span. It was because of that maintenance and the love people have shown it that the city will not be replacing the tractor with a Zamboni, said Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom.
“We had a lot of calls in the last few weeks as to why we were getting rid of this and how we could afford that,” he said. “A lot of people were really concerned we were getting rid of this nostalgic piece of equipment.”
But it is not the case. The tractor is serving its purpose right now and it is doing a good job, said Mayor Granstrom, so there is no plan in place for the near future to replace it.