When Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens opened in 1931, manager Conn Smythe envisioned an arena that would project an aura of middle-class respectability. In A Night at the Gardens, Russell Field shares how this new arena anticipated spectators by examining varying spectator behaviours, who the spectators were, and what the experience of spectating was like.
Drawing on archival records, the book explores the neighbourhood in which Maple Leaf Gardens was situated, the design of the arena’s interior spaces, and the ways in which the venue was operated in order to appeal to respectable spectators at a particular intersection of class and gender. Oral history interviews with former spectators at Maple Leaf Gardens detail the experience of watching the spectacle that unfolded on the ice during each hockey game.
A Night at the Gardens tells the fascinating story of how one prominent public building became such an important part of Toronto society.