The QMJHL was founded out of the ashes of two Junior A leagues, the Montreal area and the Quebec provincial ones. The initial roll-call of teams looks like a "who's that?" of hockey (the Laval Saints? The Verdun Maple Leafs?), but while many of the inaugural members folded within five years of the league's founding, their cities were later given second (and in some cases multiple) chances to succeed. And then there's poor St-Jérôme. The local team, the Alouettes, was founded back in the 1950's and joined the Q upon its founding in 1969, but disappeared forever after three short seasons.
The Alouettes' home, Melançon Arena, is located on a quiet residential street beside the town's ballpark. It has the classical look of a hockey arena, with whitewashed concrete walls on three sides and a tasteful brown brick facade facing the street. Once you enter, you find a small pro shop and concession area in a dark red hallway, along with aisles leading up to the main seating bowl.
The seating area has the standard design of a post-war arena, with an arched, silver-clad ceiling and red wooden slatted seats surrounding the ice. Oddly, there is no centre scoreboard, although there is more than enough room for one. Banners from the team's hockey history surround the ice, and each one has all the names of the team's players written on it, in some cases with a Sharpie.
The Q never came back to St-Jérôme. The arena is small, unrenovated and crumbling, and there aren't many signs of changes from the way it must have looked during the QMJHL years. Melançon Arena is an interesting footnote to the early history of a fledgling league, and these days I doubt that even most St-Jérômeois could tell you that they once had the QMJHL in town.
Inside Melançon Arena
What's the Arena Used for Today?
The Alouettes are a dead-end in QMJHL history, appearing fully-formed in 1969 and disappearing forever in 1972. Melançon Arena is today home to community hockey and skating as well as the St-Jérôme Panthères of the LHJAAAQ.
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