The Transformation of Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens

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The Maple Leaf Gardens is one of the most iconic buildings in Toronto. After breaking ground in May of 1931, the building became home to our city’s oldest and most beloved sports team, the building’s namesake, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Image via Urban Toronto

Image via Urban Toronto

The season opener was played on November 12, 1931 and the Leafs went on to enjoy a winning season that year, losing no more than 4 games at their brand new arena. They played there for 68 years, winning 11 Stanley Cup’s (although none since 1967), and cementing the building into our city’s history.

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After the Air Canada Centre was built for the Maple Leafs and Raptors, the Maple Leaf Gardens was used by much smaller Toronto teams including the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League before they also eventually moved to the ACC leaving the Maple Leaf Gardens mostly dormant for a decade.

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In 2004, the Maple Leaf Gardens was taken over by another Toronto staple, Loblaws. The space is also used by Ryerson as their sports complex. The current inhabitants haven’t lost sight of the buildings roots, creating the Ryerson rink in the building above the grocery store.

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This Loblaws location opened it’s doors on November 30 of 2011, just about 80 years after the building was initially unveiled to the public in 1931. There were a few construction delays along the way, including finding a time capsule in the building and a creek with running water in the basement (!), but the store eventually opened flawlessly. A few reminders of the legacy of Maple Leaf Gardens remained scattered throughout the store, like the big red circle on the floor to mark where centre ice was and a few old chairs from the Gardens on display as art.

Haven’t see the new Loblaws location at Carlton and Church yet? Come down to our neighbourhood for your dinner prep tonight!

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