One of Toronto’s most famous buildings can be found on Carlton Street, just east of Yonge. This iconic yellow-brick building was given a proud Canadian name when it first opened its doors to the public in 1931 – Maple Leaf Gardens.
Maple Leaf Gardens was home to the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs from 1931 to 1999. During that illustrious period, the Leafs won the Stanley Cup 11 times.
The Gardens was dubbed “The Cashbox on Carlton” as the Leafs’ home games were a huge revenue-generator. In fact, the Leafs sold out every single game played at Maple Leaf Gardens from 1946 to 1999. The seating capacity for hockey games at the Gardens was 16,485. While this is an impressive number, hockey arenas in the last two decades have grown to capacities of 20,000-plus. As a result, the Leafs built a new home near the financial district, and since February 20th, 1999, they have called the Air Canada Centre home.
Maple Leaf Gardens is now a multipurpose facility. The Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens occupies the upper section of the building and it is owned by Ryerson University. The lower section is now an enormous supermarket called Loblaws 60 Carlton. I popped into the mega-supermarket this week to take a few photos. Enjoy!
Dozens of seats from the Blue Section of Maple Leaf Gardens have been cleverly arranged on a wall near the supermarket entrance to form a spectacular iconic shape, the Toronto Maple Leafs logo.
I love this section of the supermarket. BBQ season is here!
A top-flight bakery
Throughout the supermarket, pillars proudly display significant moments in Maple Leaf Gardens history.
Gretzky Breaks Leafs’ Hearts (29 May 1993)
I remember watching that game on the Skydome Jumbotron.
The Leafs last won the Cup on May 2nd, 1967. Here we see the 1967 captain, George Armstrong, holding the trophy.
On March 29th, 1966, Toronto’s George Chuvalo fought Muhammed Ali for the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World. This legendary fight at the Gardens ended with a victory for Ali. However, the rumble went 15 rounds as Chuvalo was one of the few opponents in Ali’s career that he did not knock out.
Who’s that peering over Aisle 8?
The same woman you see on all of your Canadian coins – Queen Elizabeth II! During her Royal Visit in 1951, she was still a princess.
Did you notice that none of the players wore helmets back then? Even the referees looked dapper back in the day, as they wore dress shirts, ties and sweaters.
Did you know that the Toronto Maple Leafs won 4 Stanley Cups in the 1960s?
A jubilant Toronto Maple Leaf smiles victoriously at the Loblaws shoppers.
Now that’s a Patisserie!
So many delicious cupcakes, so little time.
It’s been a long time since the Leafs last hoisted the great silver Cup. 48 seasons have come and gone since their last glorious victory in 1967. Despite these last few Cup-less decades, I believe that the Leafs will turn things around and ultimately win the Stanley Cup once again, in my lifetime.
And on that glorious night, at age 97, I will wear my Toronto Maple Leafs jersey proudly, bang on every door at my retirement residence, and lead my cronies up the stairs to the rooftop where we will wave our canes wildly in the air and shout to the city below, “LEEEEEAFS RUUUUUUUULE!”
Comments are always welcome!