Gardens Still Looking Like Old

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (July 30) – I suppose it will always be a bit comforting to know that Maple Leaf Gardens hasn’t changed much. At least on the outside. The inside has undergone a complete makeover as an athletic home for Ryerson University and an unparalleled Loblaws grocery outlet – easily the best I’ve seen in Canada.

As for the soul of the arena, hockey will always have to at least share a place with the unspeakable crimes that were committed behind closed doors – young, innocent boys being molested by older employees of the building. No person with a conscience can write about Maple Leaf Gardens and overlook its much-darker side. To those and their loved ones affected by the pedophilia – and to the family of Martin Kruze, who took his own life as a result – my heart and prayers are with you.

For many nights in the span of 32 years, two months and 10 days, I was at the Gardens – primarily to watch (and later cover) the Maple Leafs. That period began on Dec. 3, 1966 when I attended my first Leafs game (vs. Detroit) as a seven-year-old boy. And it ended with the final National Hockey League match on Feb. 13, 1999, when Doug Gilmour and the Chicago Blackhawks routed the Leafs, 6-2. Today, the Gardens and the Montreal Forum are the lone buildings from the six-team NHL to remain standing. The Forum, however, looks different on the outside than it did in the six-team era, as it underwent a a massive renovation in the summer of 1968 (re-opening Nov. 2 of that year). The NHL, by then, had expanded to 12 clubs. The former home of the Canadiens is now a gigantic movie house. The Cineplex Odeon Forum has 22 theaters.     

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ACROSS THE STREET FROM MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – JULY 30, 2014.

I went downtown today by subway and got off at my old stomping ground – the College St. station. After looking after some business, I walked over to the corner of Church and Carlton in a light drizzle. Maple Leaf Gardens is still looking wonderfully old and worn – as one might expect of a yellow-brick structure built 83 years ago. For those that haven’t done the subway ride – and for others that may wish to recall countless hockey nights – I’ve put together this photo sequence:

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MURAL ADDED TO THE COLLEGE STATION RAMP IN THE MID-1980’s.

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EXIT TO THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF YONGE AND CARLTON ST.

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YONGE ST. LOOKING NORTH – WHERE COLLEGE TURNS INTO CARLTON.

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LOOKING EAST ALONG CARLTON ST. TO MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.

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60 CARLTON STREET ? AND ITS NEARLY 83-YEAR-OLD BRICK FACADE.?

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VIEW FROM THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF CHURCH AND CARLTON.

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SAME VIEW… WITH THE EVER-PRESENT STREETCAR.

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GROCERY SHOPPING AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.

MEANWHILE, IN MONTREAL…

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THE OLD FORUM ? AT RUE STE. CATHERINE AND ATWATER IS NOW A GIANT MOVIE HOUSE WITH 22 THEATERS. THE LOCATION OF CENTER-ICE ? IS INDICATED ON THE FLOOR WITH A REPLICA-PAINTING OF THE FACE-OFF CIRCLE. MONTREAL CANADIENS PLAYED THEIR FINAL GAME AT THE BUILDING (vs. DALLAS) IN MARCH 1996. 

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AND, OVERHEAD TODAY…

Continuing with my apparently-popular sun-and-cloud photos (according to email reaction, anyway), here are five images from a rather spectacular sunset this evening in Toronto:

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EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

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