Maple Leaf Gardens / Mutual Street Arena part 1 - Toronto, Ontario
Ballparks, Arenas and Stadiums > Maple Leaf Gardens / Mutual Street Arena part 1 - Toronto, Ontario
MUSIC - Funeral for a friend / love lies bleeding by Elton John

Photographed in 1987, 1995 and 1996 using film.

Maple Leaf Gardens - Opened in 1931 and still standing. It is now a multi use facility. On the bottom floor is a Loblaw grocery store, the upper floor is used as a rink by Ryerson University.

Location - 60 Carlton Street, Toronto Ontario. At the northwest corner of Church and Carlton Streets in Toronto's Garden district.

Mutual Street Arena - Opened in 1912 and demolished in 1989. The site is now condominiums.

Location - Dundas St. E, Jarvis St., Mutual St., Shuter Street Toronto, Ontario. Just a few blocks south of Maple Leaf Gardens.

If you ask Torontonians the most famous address in the city of Toronto, chances are they will tell you 60 Carlton Street. This is the site of Maple Leaf Gardens, the last used of the original 6 buildings. The corner of Church and Carlton streets in Toronto was the destination for over 71 years. Hockey was king and the Leafs ruled the ice. From the gondola broadcast booth of legendary Leafs voice Foster Hewitt, to the hot stove room, to the steep incline of seats in the upper reaches of the gardens, Maple Leaf Gardens was a second home for millions.

Maple Leaf Gardens was the second home for the Leafs. The first home was the Mutual Street arena located a few blocks south of Maple Leaf Gardens. Maple Leaf Gardens made its debut on November 12, 1931, when the Leafs lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1. Ironically 67 years later on February 13, 1999, the Leafs would play their final game at the gardens against the same Chicago Blackhawks. The result was basically the same. They lost 6-2.

Maple Leaf Gardens was also the site of the first ever NBA game in 1946. Actually, it was called the BAA, a forerunner to the NBA. The Toronto Huskies lost to the New York Knicks 66-64 in which is regarded the first ever NBA game. The Huskies lasted 2 seasons before folding. But history was made and a new sport and league was born.

Besides the Huskies, another short term tenant was the Toronto Toros of the WHA. They were a vagabond team having three cities they called home. They started out as the Ottawa Nationals and lasted for one season in Ottawa. After the 72-73 season, they moved to Toronto and became the Toros. Having to use 2 arenas, the gardens and the University of Toronto's Varsity arena, was not a good option. Basically, Harold Ballard, the bully owner of the Leafs squeezed the Toros out of the garden and out of Toronto after the 1975-1976 season. The team fled to Birmingham Alabama which was a hockey wasteland. They stayed for 3 season until the WHA folded.

The gardens had its share of concerts, ice shows, wrestling, and just about anything else that would fit under her roof. The Beatles played at the gardens on each of their tours. The Who played their "final farewell concert" at Maple Leaf Gardens in December of 1982. Elvis, the Rolling stones, Boston, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and local heroes Rush all played at the gardens.

The NBA came back to Toronto in 1995 in the form of the Toronto Raptors. But the Raptors did not make Maple Leaf Gardens their home. They instead played their home games at the cavernous Skydome, home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Leafs ruled the gardens roost for the life of the building. Leafs greats Busher Jackson, Syl Apps, Johnny Bower, Turk Broda, Tim Horton, King Clancy, Dave Keon and Doug Gilmour played part or most of their careers on the ice at Church and Carlton. Etched on the dressing room wall of the Leafs was this saying, "Defeat does not rest lightly on their shoulders." Players were proud to wear the maple leaf on their sweater. They won the Stanley cup in their first season at Maple Leaf Gardens and as of 2008, won their last cup in 1967. All told, the Leafs won 11 Stanley cups at Maple Leaf Gardens. The first NHL all star game was also played at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1947.

Maple Leaf Gardens was showing her age. The lack of luxury suites, and cramped seating were leading factors to her demise. After the final game in 1999, the Leafs moved into the Air Canada Centre a few blocks from the Skydome. Maple Leaf Gardens was the last of the original six buildings to host an NHL game. Madison Square Garden III closed in 1968 and was demolished. Boston Garden closed in 1995 and was also demolished. The Olympia in Detroit closed in 1979 and lay vacant for 7 years before being torn down. Chicago stadium closed in 1994 and was demolished a year later. The Forum in Montreal closed its doors for good in 1996 and was turned into an entertainment complex. Maple Leaf Gardens closed its doors in 2002. She was stripped of everything that could be sold. Now she sits an empty shell of a building. The Rolling Stones used the gardens as rehearsal space for their tour. Talk was that a superstore would be built inside the gardens walls, but those plans vanished. Let's hope that they designate that building at the corner of Church and Carlton as a landmark and keep it forever. Long live MAPLE LEAF GARDENS!

The first home for the Toronto Maple Leafs was a few short blocks south of the current Maple Leaf Gardens. The Mutual Street arena was located on, you guessed it, Mutual Street. It was built in 1912 and was billed as the largest indoor arena in Canada. The Toronto Arenas were formed in 1917 and played their home games there. They changed their name to the St. Pats and eventually to the Maple Leafs. The Leafs won 2 Stanley cups at Mutual Street. They abandoned Mutual Street arena when Maple Leaf Gardens was built in 1931. After the Leafs left, the arena was converted into an ice skating rink in winter and a roller rink in summer. It was also outfitted for curling in 1962 and renamed the Terrace. It was finally demolished in 1990 and condominiums were built on the site. She had a brief history in the NHL, but she did have her moments.
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The corner of Church and Carlton. You can see the Doug Laurie sporting goods sign. It was a store inside Maple Leaf Gardens. 3/87


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Map of Toronto. Maple Leaf Gardens would be right in the middle of the map. From internet.


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The view of downtown Toronto from my hotel room. 3/87


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The concourse of the Gardens. It's not too wide. 3/87


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The marquee of the gardens before a game vs. Edmonton. 3/87


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The roof of the gardens. You can see the pressbox to the left. 3/87


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A good view of the pressbox on the east side of the gardens. You can see the colored seats. Golds were the best, then reds, blues and greys. 3/87


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Looking towards the south end of the gardens and the luxury boxes. 3/87


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Luxury boxes on the west side of the gardens. 3/87


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The gardens 2 months later. The season is over, and the ice is gone till October. 5/87


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The red trolly line that runs along Carlton street. 5/87


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Inside the lobby of the gardens. 5/87


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The concession stands in the lobby. 5/87


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The Stanley Cup champion photos in the lobby of the gardens. 5/87


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Maple Leaf gardens on a rainy October night in 1995.


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The marquee had changed since the last time I was in Toronto 10/95


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Leafs vs. the New York Rangers. 10/95


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Inside the concourse of Maple Leaf Gardens. 10/95


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Church and Carlton circa January 1996. 1/96


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Harold Ballard's initials at center ice. The following 35 photos are courtesy of HM. It shows MLG in its present state. The photos were shot in 2007


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The Leafs former locker room. It has been stripped and is just a shell. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The entrance to ice level. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The famous hot stove club in the gardens. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Another view of the bar in the hot stove club. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The hot stove club. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The spa in the Leafs locker room. Photo courtesy of HM.


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One of the gardens murials. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The Leafs locker room.


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Another garden murial. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Part of the gardens pipe system. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The "reds" in the garden. Photo courtesy of HM.


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A dark garden view from the "red" level. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The roof of the garden. YOu can see the blue maple leaf in the center. Photo courtesy of HM.


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A ladies room in the garden. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The mens room! Photo courtesy of HM.


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The stairway to the red level. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The jumbotron from the broadcast booth. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Concession area. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Garden's corridor north east grey's entrance. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The gardens from the pressbox. Photo courtesy of HM.


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A high view of the gardens. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The ice lights in the basement. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Ice level at the gardens. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The pressbox of the gardens. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Another view of the pressbox. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The gardens interior. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Main entrance. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The gold's waiting to be removed. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The spiral staircase. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The reds and golds at the garden. The golds were considered the best seats. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The pressbox in the rafters. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Ice level view of the gardens red seats. Photo courtesy of HM.


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The view from Harold Ballard's "bunker". Photo courtesy of HM.


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The view from the corner. Photo courtesy of HM.


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Doug Laurie's sporting goods will be turned into a Loblaws store.


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The Mutual street arena on Mutual street, a few blocks south of Maple Leaf Gardens. 3/87


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The plaque depicting Mutual street arena. 3/87


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The arena was demolished in 1990 and condos were built on the site. 3/87


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A last live look at 60 Carlton Street. The arena is shuttered now, her fate is uknown. But it is a classic, and will never be duplicated. 10/95