Friday, May 29, 2015

Maple Leaf Gardens - A Different View

On my first visit to Maple Leaf Gardens in January of 1965, I couldn't get over how far away the domed roof appeared to be. During every trip to the Original Six building, I wouldn't miss the opportunity to gaze up at Foster Hewitt's gondola, and then to the domed roof.

It wasn't until the Gardens closed in 1999, that I decided to find out more about the upper most region of the hockey shrine built by Conn Smythe.

I came across an interesting article published in the Contract Record and Engineering Review. The headline above the story read, "An Outstanding Construction Accomplishment - Erection of Large Sports Arena in Five Months - Maple Leaf Gardens Represents Latest Ideas in Arena Design."

Dated November 11, 1931 - the day prior to the official opening of Maple Leaf Gardens - the piece provided background information on the construction of the domed roof.


"Over the arena portion a dome, 207 ft. by 225 ft. in projected measurement, rises to a height of about 150 ft. above street level," noted the Contract Record and Engineering Review.

"The roof of the building, which is domed in the centre, is carried on structural steel framework. The dome, of rectangular plan, has a base of 207 ft. by 225 ft. and comprises four trussed ribs braced by a series of trusses arranged rectangularly and carrying the roofing ribs on which the decking is placed."

Another interesting passage observed that, "at the centre of the dome, reached by cat walks, is a winch platform from which can be operated a boxing and wrestling ring, light canopy, loud speakers and radio microphones."

Perhaps, the most fascinating fact is it took only four weeks to build the roof.

The historic address of 60 Carlton Street is currently shared by Loblaw Companies Limited and Ryerson University.




Mattamy Home Ice, situated on the top floor of the reconfigured structure, was designed to resemble a miniature version of the original Maple Leaf Gardens. The Ryerson Rams hockey team calls this space their home.




What struck me most when entering the new ice rink was the proximity of the domed roof. The difference in distance to the naked eye is dramatic, compared to the times when Hap Day and subsequent generations of Leaf players called the Gardens home.




Now, to peer up at the domed roof, it isn't necessary to strain your neck to the point where your eyeballs can't look any higher. A close-up view can be had from any spot and binoculars are not required.

For Maple Leaf fans, it is like the domed roof is the gateway to hockey heaven.

To paraphrase lyrics written by Paul Simon - "Where have you gone, Teeder Kennedy, Leafs Nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

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