Friday, October 15, 2010

Location, Location, Location

It is a common occurrence with visitors who travel to New York City to go on a tour which features their favourite TV show locations. These include Seinfeld and The Sopranos. Often, the locations are exteriors which serve as "bumpers" to identify where a scene is taking place. In the case of Seinfeld, the coffee shop and Jerry's apartment building were seen on a regular basis.

Now, imagine applying this same concept to a favourite book. With the release of the updated version of Kevin Shea's Barilko : Without A Trace, I decided to go on a walking tour to explore some points of interest. For those unfamiliar with Barilko, here is some background information. Bill Barilko joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in February of the 1946-47 season. In his brief time in the NHL, Barilko won 4 Stanley Cups with Toronto. After scoring the Cup winning goal in 1951, his life was cut short due to an airplane crash in Northern Ontario.

My first destination was the Eton Hotel at 710 Danforth Avenue. This was Bill Barilko's final home in the City of Toronto. A photograph in the book shows a telegram Alex Barilko, Bill's brother, sent to him in "care of Eton Hotel Danforth & Eton Ave Toronto Ont". This was sent after Bill scored his famous goal on the evening of April 21st, 1951. To reach Maple Leaf Gardens, Barilko would travel along the Danforth, which ends at Parliament Street and becomes Bloor Street, then continue west on Bloor. A left turn at Church Street would take him to the corner of Church and Carlton, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Eton House (present day), Previously known as the Eton Hotel (1951)
 My second destination was 167 Danforth Ave the home of Barilko Bros. (Radio, Appliances and Sporting Goods). A short distance from the Eton Hotel, the store was a joint venture between the Barilko brothers and Ed Whittaker who was an executive with Admiral Appliances.

Displaying his business sense, Barilko engaged the services of his teammates for promotional purposes

Today, 167 Danforth is occupied by a Law Office. I asked a solicitor if their was any visible evidence of the previous occupant from 1949. As expected, I got a negative response.

167 Danforth Ave (present day), Situated on the south-side of Danforth
It may not have been as glamorous as a Seinfeld or Sopranos expedition, but for a hockey person it was a marvelous experience. A chance to walk in the footsteps of a hockey legend.

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