In 1931, Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe broke ground on Maple Leaf Gardens, which would go onto become one of hockey’s most hallowed buildings. The Maple Leafs won 11 Stanley Cups there, the first annual NHL All-Star Game was held there, Game Two of the 1972 Russia-Canada Summit series was held there…heck, Elvis Presley even played there.
On Thursday, another chapter in the Gardens’ rich history was unveiled — a metal time capsule Smythe buried behind a cornerstone in ’31. The capsule was opened during a ceremony at Ryerson University.
Found in the handmade copper box were copies of the local newspapers from Sept. 21, 1931 — the Toronto Daily Star, the Globe, the Mail and Empire and the Evening Telegram— a stock prospectus for Maple Leaf Gardens, the 1930-31 National Hockey League handbook and a 1930 Ontario Hockey Association rule book.
The inner lid of the time capsule was engraved “M.B. Campbell 124 Lindsay Ave 9/21/31.”
Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy said Campbell’s identity remains a mystery.
Another mystery is the small, ivory elephant found in the capsule. Two of Smythe’s great-grandsons were on hand at the ceremony and offered up their theories, though neither was entirely sure as to elephant’s significance. One heard it was from the Smythe family collection while the other thought it was to bring the Leafs good fortune.
“I’m not sure,” Stafford Scarlett told the Star. “I think it’s more of a good-luck charm. For 11 (Stanley) Cups, it worked.”
The Leafs played their last game at the Gardens in 1999. It has since been converted into a Loblaw’s grocery store and Ryerson’s athletic center.
(Image courtesy SportsLogos.net)