Time Capsule Discovered in Maple Leaf Gardens

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leafs time capsule

The official program from opening night at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ recently-unveiled third jersey isn’t the only piece of team history being brought back this season.

According to a report on CBC.ca, crews working on Maple Leaf Gardens have discovered what they believe to be a time capsule that would have been buried during construction of the building many years ago.

“All I know is what the super[intendent] told me,” worker Randall Gwizd told CBC. “The bricklayers found it by the front doors underneath the stone that marks the name of the building and they lifted it up and found the time capsule.”

The capsule isn’t the only item that they found, though. Along with the capsule was an old newspaper and a rule book from 1931, according to Gwidz.

“Loblaws came down and took [the capsule] right away,” Gwidz also told CBC. “Nobody really got to see it.”

Loblaws also sent an email statement to CBC News. It read, “Thanks for your enquiry. We have found articles during construction, but they are currently being assessed and validated. We will be in touch once we have more information. Thanks for your interest.”

CBC got in contact with Phil Pritchard, curator at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He says that he would like to have the capsule at the Hall of Fame; why not put it there?

“When I heard about it this morning it was pretty amazing,” he said to CBC News. “I want to be in line. If there are hockey pieces we’d love to have them here.”

Maple Leaf Gardens was built during the Great Depression of the 1930s and ’40s, and opened its doors to the public on November 12, 1931. It was the building the Maple Leafs called home for more than 60 years before they moved into their current arena, the Air Canada Centre, in early 1999.

The crews currently working on Maple Leaf Gardens are busy converting the building from an arena to a Loblaws supermarket and an athletic centre for Toronto’s Ryerson University. This hasn’t sat well with many hockey fans and historians, as the arena that saw the Maple Leafs win 11 Stanley Cups has to be reconstructed, remodelled and refurbished, according to CBC.

Their first Stanley Cup while playing in Maple Leaf Gardens came during their first year in the arena, the 1931-1932 season. They played the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final that year, going on to win it all in three straight games.

Playing for the Leafs that season were the likes of Ace Bailey, Hap Day, Charlie Conacher and Lorne Chabot. Many would be able to recall the night Bailey was checked into the boards from behind by Boston Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore; the hit ended Bailey’s career.

Also during their time in at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Leafs experienced the Harold Ballard era, the Bill Barilko “curse” and the team’s revival in the ’90s.

It is clear that the building is full of history, which gives fans a good reason to protest against its transformation into a grocery store and athletic centre. However, now more than 12 years into its existence, the Air Canada Centre is ready to house more great Leaf memories.

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Quotes used in this post are courtesy of CBC.ca.

Lukas Hardonk

Lukas Hardonk

Contributing Editor at The Hockey Writers
Lukas, a student at the University of Ottawa, covers the Toronto Maple Leafs on a part-time basis for The Hockey Writers. Contact Lukas at lukas.hardonk@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter, @LukasHardonk.
Lukas Hardonk
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One Comment

  1. Richard Prest says:

    The time capsule is a national treasure and should be in the National archives not at Loblaws who now own the Gardens which is a historical site. Why not preserve it, I lived in St James Town in the 70’s where I would go and marvel at it’s construction and wooden ceiling. Now it is a Supermarket, people have no sense of their history.

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