The Maple Leaf (Gardens) Forever

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Alexander Muir, Maple Leaf Forever

After being moth-balled for years, it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that Toronto’s storied Maple Leaf Gardens has a new lease on life. I happened to have had CP24’s Breakfast Television on as wallpaper yesterday, and they cut to a press conference at the Gardens announcing a $60 million overhaul of the place, a collaborative venture involving Loblaws, Ryerson University as well as various levels of government.

Great good news! Thankfully, gone are the days when an historic edifice such as this might succumb to the wrecking ball – truly, here is a success story in the making, where a unique architectural landmark is at long last on the threshold of being transformed into a vibrant community hub.

Like so many Torontonians, I have my fair share of fuzzy, feel-good, nostalgic memories from frequenting the Gardens, not so much the occasional hockey game as rock events featuring the likes of The Who, Yes, Queen and Bob Dylan. I guess there were others, but it’s all a little hazy, if you know what I mean!

Slipping past the media check-in table set up in the lobby, Alexander Muir’s iconic The Maple Leaf Forever seemed an appropriate piece to play in this evocative corridor leading to ice level of the capacious, dormant building. Sure, I’m more of a Habs fan, but those hapless Maple Leafs need all the encouragement they can get these days with such a sad season so far!

And of course Muir’s patriotic song was held up as a Canadian national anthem for past generations, and was even played in movie theaters before the film would roll! I like to think that my playing of this song in this location might serve as emblematic of those earlier days at the Gardens, and evoke the spirit of the grand, old building.

To learn more about The Maple Leaf Forever from when I paid Muir’s cottage in Leslieville a visit, out in Toronto’s east end, click here. And of course there is a monument to Alexander Muir up near Lawrence and Yonge: if you’ve never taken the opportunity to visit these delightful public gardens – speaking of gardens – you owe it to yourself to take a stroll through this wonderful Toronto green-space!