Monday, February 24, 2014

1965 Open House at Maple Leaf Gardens

I stumbled across these great photos in a Maple Leaf Gardens program I recently picked up. The book is from opening night of the 1965/66 campaign and has this fantastic look at the annual Maple Leaf Gardens open house which took place on Saturday, September 25, 1965.
From 10am to 10pm that day some 25,000 folks filed through the home of the Maple Leafs for a look behind the scenes. Above is a great shot of the Gardens lobby area as people wait to get into the arena itself. For a small donation, the fans got into the building as well as a free Shopsy hot dog, Coke and ice-cream bar. All funds raised went toward the Hospital for Sick Children Building Fund. Below Leaf president Stafford Smythe is shown depositing a cheque of $50,000 for the fund on behalf of the Maple Leaf Gardens directors.

Above, youngsters check out the dressing room that was used by The Beatles for their Gardens visit as well as the Gardens hospital room. Below, Leaf rookie Ron Ellis is shown signing autographs for the throngs of people.

Even the Maple Leaf dressing was open for inspection by the adoring fans. Below, Leaf P.R. man Ed Fitkin along with Esso spokesman Murray Westgate point out highlights of the building to fans seated in the stands.

Full access really was given to the public as shown above and below. Note the now highly collectable Maple Leaf calendar pinned up in the top-left photo. Yes, I have a few of them in my collection. We see the television studio of the day at the bottom-left and of great interest on the bottom-right is a proposed model of an expanded Maple Leaf Gardens. I'll certainly have to dig into that one a bit more.


Anonymous said...

I went to an open house in the summer of 1992 when they unveiled the new sweaters. New coach Pat Burns addressed the crowd (and said, "everyone told me this is a baseball town now, but I look at a crowd like this in the middle of August and I know it's still a hockey town.").

Great event.

Anonymous said...

Cool blog!

To my amazement the model of the expansion of Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1965 articles as shown, I happen to have. I obtained it when the Gardens closed, and recently had it professionally cleaned and lightly restored. The Gardens was not good at preserving or keeping good care of it's history and it needed some attention.
I would like to know which program this article appeared, so as I can look to acquire one to place beside to model.

Again, Nitzy thanks for the cool blog- I'll check it out!

Nitzy said...

October 23, 1965 is the program it's from. Send me your email and I can send an image of the cover. Would love to see any detail shots of the model itself.

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