The name A. J. LaRue has a prominent place on the arena in the village of Haliburton to commemorate the extraordinary community leadership of a man who devoted himself to the youth of the community over many decades.
Ab was a member of the Haliburton County School Board, a Scouting leader, and a Softball League organizer. But it was through his dedication to hockey that Ab had the biggest impact. Over 40 years, he promoted sports and sporting values that directly impacted thousands of Haliburton County youth.
In the 1940’s and 50’s, Ab immersed himself in the operation of Haliburton Minor Hockey, serving as coach, manager, and transportation provider. He spearheaded the creation of a new arena and community centre to replace the old natural ice rink, serving as the Chair of the Dysart Park Board. The building project was ambitious for a small town, but Ab led the fundraising effort and the centre was completed in 1965. Over the years it has been the focal point of community events, figure skating competitions, hockey tournaments, and even an NHL exhibition game.
With the new arena completed, Ab lobbied the Ontario Hockey Association to grant Haliburton a Junior D franchise that would compete in the Central Ontario league. The Haliburton Huskies, the future Ontario Junior OHA Provincial Championship team, was born. As the team owner, Ab also provided bus transportation. He had a dedicated assistant in his son, Scotty LaRue, who returned to Haliburton after playing professional hockey in Europe. Together, they built a team with a strong core of local young players who captured the hearts of the entire town. The arena was full to capacity when the Junior D Huskies won the legendary 1971 championship.
Throughout his life, A. J. LaRue made contributions to local organizations and community development. He believed in the value of sport to build character, and he offered many levels of support and guidance to the youth of Haliburton County.