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Maple Leaf Gardens: 76 Years and Counting…

Last week, Maple Leaf Gardens quietly turned 76.
When the Gardens was sold to Loblaw in 2004, it appeared that the grocery store chain would fast-track the historic building into a supermarket. Now the projected summer 2007 construction date has come and gone, and nothing has changed since Torontoist covered the Gardens’ 75th anniversary.
We worried that the Gardens would be neglected while Loblaw dealt with its financial woes and ailing restructuring of existing stores, so we called Loblaw’s customer relations department to get an update. A rep told us that the plans for the Gardens store are complete. Construction is to start within a year (although we’ve heard that before) and completion will be “soon.” However, Loblaw doesn’t want to rush the process, because the company wants to “get it right.” Loblaw wants the Gardens to be the “best superstore ever.” (Note the small “s.” When we asked if the Gardens would become one of the company’s Real Canadian Superstores, the rep quickly backtracked and said there was no confirmation of the name for the store yet.)
Although getting information from Loblaw was as easy as calling them, a website with frequent updates on the project should have been up since day one. (Or one of those newfangled blog things.)
Built in 1931, the Gardens was not only home to the Leafs, but also hosted the Metropolitan Opera, Fats Domino and Frankie Avalon. It will be a shame if Loblaw fails to honour its history and significance. (We can’t muster the same warm feelings for the Air Canada Centre or the Skydome Rogers Centre.) Hopefully, Loblaw will find a better way to celebrate the Gardens’s 77th anniversary.
Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.


  • Kremmen

    What the Weston family should do with the shrine that is MLG is turn it into a Tate Modern….I think I’m stealing that idea but it’s a damn good one. Galen Weston should donate the land and building to the AGO who can then create the “AGO Modern”. We turn our Roundhouses into Leon furniture stores and our Maple Leaf Gardens into Loblaws Superstores. It’s EMBARRASSING! Big box retail has got to stop ruling this city. If you’ve ever been to the Tate Modern, it’s spectacular. The UK takes historical buildings and turns them into accessible-for-all arts institutions. Can’t wait to see what they do with the Battersea Power Station. You know that in London these buildings will not be turned into Tesco’s. Please Galen, donate this building to a cultural institution like the AGO who can make it into a glorious, modern art gallery. It would be a courageous act and would show much respect for the Maple Leaf Gardens and for this city.

  • Jaime Woo

    I like the idea since that area could use a cultural kick in the butt. With the Village and Ryerson nearby, it could attract a solid crowd. Another problem is that Torontonians don’t get worked up over a Loblaws or a Real Canadian Superstore. If it was a Walmart though, people would have been changed to the doors!

  • doubled

    That is great news that their plans have hit a roadblock again. I really wish, along with a lot of other historical fans, that the building remain as is. A museum or arts building is a great idea with maybe some cafe’s strategically located to take enhance different historical areas inside the Gardens. Maybe save the rink as an indoor public skating surface with the cafes, and display rooms overlooking the surface…..The Mayor could really make a name for himself if he would step in, the City buy back the building and really turn it into a historical gem of a public space, unique to Toronto and well deserved.