Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maple Leaf Gardens Update

Every time I travel downtown, I make an effort to swing by Maple Leaf Gardens and check-out the progress being made in the redevelopment project.

On April 25th, I ventured over to 60 Carlton Street to observe what was transpiring. On n Carlton, where the front entrance is located, there was very little activity taking place. The doors were boarded up and workers were busy cleaning the exterior bricks.

Carlton Street - April 25, 2011

As I walked along Church Street, I heard the sounds of construction equipment humming and buzzing within the building. After a brief moment of silence, the constant noise of hammering filled the morning air.

The hub of the action came into view as I turned the corner and moved west via Wood Street. A portion of the sidewalk, from the Gardens wall outward, was littered with bits and pieces of construction material.

Wood Street - April 25, 2011

As depicted in the above photo, a section of the building wall on Wood Street has been opened up. The purpose of this aperture is to allow work crews and trucks to go in and out of the Gardens. Standing across the street, I watched as a forklift made numerous trips back and forth, transporting supplies to work stations inside. On occasion, the area would be cleared as a dump truck made it's way up a ramp and out the dual entrance/exit.

After my visit and prior to preparing this piece, I contacted the public relations department at Loblaw Companies Limited. The grocery chain is one of three partners involved in the make-over. Since the redevelopment started in earnest, I have been baffled by the lack of media attention. I quickly learnt the reason why. Their response to my inquires indicated no media tours or information would be released until the opening, which is scheduled for fall 2011.

It was my intention to obtain an update on the interior work being conducted within Maple Leaf Gardens. Over the past months, I have been able to document the exterior findings, but activity on the other side of the wall has been a mystery. Although my request for fresh details didn't go anywhere, I did come across another source which provided a fountain of information - the website at

As is my nature, I thought about how developments were covered by the press in 1931. Doing some research, I discovered the following picture which appeared in the July 11, 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

The text which accompanied the photograph reads as follows...

Excellent progress is being made in the erection of the new $1,500,000 Maple Leaf Gardens at Church and Carlton Sts. The men are working night and day in order to complete the building according to contract, on the 1st of November. A tremendous amount of work has already been done and the structure is beginning to rise above the high board fence that surrounds the immense building. Carlton St. has been widened to 86 feet between Yonge and Church Sts, the streetcar tracks have been moved, and the whole district has undergone a wonderful transformation. The photograph shows a corner of the buildings operation by night. The erection of the building has given employment to hundreds of men, which is a big thing for the community.

Maple Leaf Gardens - Hockey then and now.

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