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University of Toronto Press

A Night at the Gardens
Class, Gender, and Respectability in 1930s Toronto
By (author): Russell Field
Russell Field


University of Toronto Press



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


Higher Education
Apr 25, 2023
$24.95 CAD


9in x 6 x 1 in | 1 gr

Page Count:

248 pages


50 b&w illustrations
University of Toronto Press
HISTORY / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)

A Night at the Gardens examines the history of hockey through the experiences of spectators at the famed Maple Leaf Gardens.

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 it was operated in order to appeal to respectable spectators at a particular intersection of class and gender. Examining a ticket ledger compiled by arena staff for the 1933–34 National Hockey League season, the book reveals that the average subscriber purchased more than two tickets, suggesting that attending hockey games was a social experience. It also shows that while ticket subscribers were overwhelmingly middle-class men, women were also present. Oral history interviews with twenty-one former spectators at the 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.

- Unique perspective on hockey in Canadian history, focusing exclusively on spectators
- Use of previously unexamined historical source: Maple Leaf Gardens ticket ledger
- Includes the results of oral history interviews with twenty-one former spectators at Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1930s

Russell Field is an associate professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba. He has  published numerous articles in this area as well as being a co-author of The History of Politics of Sport-for-Development (Darnell, Field, and Kidd: Palgrave 2019). He is also the editor of 40 Years of Sport and Social Change (Routledge 2011) and Playing for Change: The Continuing Struggle for Sport and Recreation (UTP 2015).

For more information contact
[email protected]

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