Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Maple Leaf Gardens Update

On October 6, 2010, I wrote a story, A Return to Glory, which delved into the transformation of Maple Leaf Gardens. Unoccupied since 1999, renovations are well underway to restore the facility. Once completed, the Gardens will become home for the Ryerson Rams University hockey team and a Loblaws grocery store.

Corner Church & Carlton, October 2010

Church St. side, January 2011

As you see from the January 2011 photo, most of the work on the Church Street side of the building is partially completed. The scaffolding shown in the first photo has been removed. The exterior make-over is stunning to the naked eye. As a result of a cleansing process, the glorious yellow bricks have been restored to their natural colour. Several decades of dirt and pollution have been removed. The windows have been replaced along with new frames. In combination with the brick work, the entire east-side on Church Street just seems to glow when sunlight beams down.

The most important aspect so far is that the building has maintained it's integrity from an architectural perspective. Of course, the will not be said of the interior renovations which will be extensive and radically different from the original design. For now, the Church St. view remains as described in the Toronto Historical Board Heritage Report of December 1989.

The Church Street elevation features a similar outline (as the Carlton Street view), with two floors of paired flat-headed windows, below two-storey vertical strip windows. The shop fronts here have also been closed in. The exterior has a solid integrity of design where decorative features are minimal. These features are not merely visual embellishments, but add a stylish completeness to the monumentality of the building and reflect the prestige the sport of hockey holds in Canadian culture.
With plans calling for shop fronts at street level, Maple Leaf Gardens will take on an even more similar appearance to what it looked like in the 1930s. The interior, well, that is another story for another day.

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