Joseph Howe (1804 – 1873)

Nova Scotian par excellence, and Champion of a free press in Canada.


Joseph Howe (1804 - 1873) .The Nova Scotian patriot par excellence, Howe could use his oratorical powers to influence his compatriots as no other man has ever done
Joseph Howe (1804 – 1873) .The Nova Scotian patriot par excellence, Howe could use his oratorical powers to influence his compatriots as no other man has ever done

“When I sit down in solitude to the labours of my profession, the only questions I ask myself are, What is right? What is Just? What is for the public good?” ~ Joseph Howe.

Joseph Howe, journalist, politician, premier and lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia (b at Halifax 13 Dec 1804; d there 1 June 1873). Taking over the Novascotian in 1828, Howe quickly made it the leading provincial newspaper. Originally defending the political status quo, he gradually became convinced through personal experience that serious ills abounded throughout the government. Charged with criminal libel in 1835 for criticizing local government officials, he was acquitted in the province’s most celebrated trial. He entered politics in 1836 and was primarily responsible for the election of a majority of Reformers (Liberals). A conservative Reformer, he entered a coalition with the Tories in 1840, hoping to achieve his aims step-by-step. Having failed, he prepared the way for the Reformers’ success in the election of 1847. As a result, Nova Scotia securred responsible government by 1848, the first colony to do so, and Howe could boast that it had been done without “a blow struck or a pane of glass broken.”

Seeking to rise above “the muddy pool of politics,” he tried unsuccessfully to arrange the building of the Halifax-to-Québec Railway. As chief commissioner, he began the Nova Scotia Railway in 1854, however, and saw completion of the lines from Halifax to Windsor and Truro. Devoted to Britain, he recruited forces in the US in 1855 for the Crimean War, one outcome of which was a rupture with the Catholics and the defeat of the Reformers in 1857. Following the Liberal victory of 1859, he was premier 1860-63 and imperial fishery commissioner 1863-66 under the ReciprocityTreaty of 1854. Between 1866 and 1868 he led the movement against Confederationon the grounds that it was being effected without popular consent and that it conflicted with his plans for the organization of the British Empire. Although overwhelmingly successful in the provincial elections of 1867, as a delegate to Britain in 1866-67 he could not prevent passage of the British North America Act, or, a year later, secure its repeal. Having no further means of opposition he entered the federal Cabinet in January 1869. In a celebrated midwinter by-election from which his health was so impaired that he never fully recovered. As a federal minister, he played a prominent role in bringing Manitoba into the union. Becoming lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia in 1873, he served only 3 weeks before his death.

Despite his failings, many consider Howe to have been the greatest of all Nova Scotians. The Nova Scotian patriot par excellence, he could use his oratorical powers to influence his compatriots as no other man has ever done. He sought, in his own words, to elevate them to “something more en[n]obling, exacting and inspiring, calculated to enlarge the borders of their intelligence, and increase the extent and area of their prosperity.”

Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia


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Don Messer’s Jubilee

Donald Charles Frederick (Don) Messer (May 9, 1909 – March 26, 1973) was a Canadian musician and defining icon of folk music during the 1960s.

Don Messer circa 1965Born in Tweedside, New Brunswick, Messer began playing the violin at age five, learning fiddle tunes with Irish and Scottish influences. As a young boy, Messer would play concerts in the local area and later throughout southwestern New Brunswick.

During the 1920s, Messer moved to Boston, Massachusetts for three years where he received his only formal instruction in music. Upon his return to the Maritimes, he began his radio career on CFBO in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1929 when he joined the station staff. Messer had organized a small studio band of musicians by that point and in 1934, they began a regular radio show for the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (forerunner to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or CBC), broadcasting from CHSJ in Saint John under the name the New Brunswick Lumberjacks. Messer also began to make personal appearances throughout the Maritimes and New England using a smaller group named the “Backwoods Breakdown”.

Messer left Saint John in 1939 and moved to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where he joined CFCY as music director. Here he formed the “Islanders” and by 1944 the group was airing a show nationally on CBC radio. The show established itself as the most popular on Canadian radio during the 1940s-1960s and Don Messer and His Islanders began to tour outside of the Maritimes.


In 1956, Messer’s music group began to make regular television appearances on CBHT-TV in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CBC television began a summer series called The Don Messer Show on August 7, 1959, which continued into the fall as Don Messer’s Jubilee, produced out of Halifax. Continuing as Don Messer’s Jubilee throughout the 1960s, the show won a wide audience and reportedly became the second-most watched television show in Canada during the decade (next to Hockey Night in Canada).

Don Messer’s Jubilee was cancelled by CBC television in 1969, raising a national protest among viewers and fans and even raising questions from the floor of the House of Commons. Messer and his band continued Don Messer’s Jubilee in syndication on CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario following the 1969 CBC cancellation until Messer’s death four years later.

Regular Cast

Marg Osburne (December 29, 1927-July 16, 1977) was a Canadian country, folk and gospel singer. Recipient (posthumously) of the ECMA Stompin’ Tom Connors award.

Charlie Chamberlain (14 July 1911 in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada- 16 July 1972) was a featured entertainer on Don Messer’s Jubilee, which ran from 1957 through 1969 on CBC Television. Recipient (posthumously) of the ECMA Stompin’ Tom Connors Award.


Source, Wikipedia

farmer sewing seed

My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date).

Mary Grannan – “Just Mary”

Canadian pioneer of children’s shows…


 mary rgannon - portraitJust Mary and Maggie Muggins are names that will arouse memories in those who grew up with CBC radio and television in the 1940s and 1950s. The creator of these and other children’s shows, former Fredericton schoolteacher Mary Grannan, became a radio star when she hit the national airwaves in 1939, her popularity peaking when Maggie Muggins moved to television in 1955. Long before The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup appeared. 

Mary Grannan was born on 11 February 1900 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the second of three daughters of William and Catherine (Haney) Grannan. At a young age, Grannan’s artistic creativity was greatly influenced by her father, who was fond of drawing and reading, and her mother, who was a rich source of humour and storytelling. Grannan received her education at St. Dunstan’s and Fredericton High School, and then later attended the Provincial Normal School where she graduated in 1917 with a teaching degree.

After teaching for several years at the Devon Superior School outside Fredericton, where she entertained her classes with lively stories, Grannan began writing plays and skits for school productions. She was involved in the St. Dunstan’s Dramatic Society and further explored her artistic nature by travelling to Boston in 1927 to study art at the Vesper George School of Art. Upon her return to New Brunswick, she entered work in the local exhibition and supplied political cartoons to The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton’s daily newspaper.

mary grannan - maggie mugginsGrannan was first introduced to radio in 1935 when the Canadian Teacher’s Federation used radio broadcasting as a part of the first National Education Week. The fledgling radio station CFNB, started by brothers Stewart and John Neill, broadcasted a programme using two local teachers—Gertrude Davis and Grannan. The popularity of the programmes Musical Scrapbook (1936) and Aggravating Agatha (1936) grew, and Grannan began writing twice-weekly scripts. Grannan continued writing part-time for the radio show while maintaining her teaching position until 1937. In that year, Grannan and Neill began broadcasting Just Mary, another children’s radio show that became an instant success. Shortly after, in early 1939, she was offered a position at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Grannan then moved to Toronto to write and broadcast children’s programmes for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio and Television between 1939 and 1962. In all, she wrote twenty series during her career; her most popular works, Just Mary and Mary Muggins (1947), were some of the best-known children’s programmes of their time in Canada. Just Mary ran on national CBC stations every Sunday afternoon for twenty-three years. Grannan’s work was made into bestselling children’s books that sold over 400,000 copies. The character of Maggie Muggins

Maggie Muggins Doll
Maggie Muggins Doll

was immortalized as a doll, and over 11,000 of these toys were sold in 1948 alone. Grannan thus had a successful career in print, radio, and television during the CBC’s infancy. Her work influenced and shaped Canadian children’s culture in post-Depression and postwar periods. For more than two decades, Canadian children grew up being educated and entertained by her work. She was able to capture the hearts of a generation of children.

After living and working in Toronto for over two decades, Grannan returned to New Brunswick, where she died on 3 January 1975 at her home in Fredericton. Grannan received two honorable mentions from the Institute for Education by Radio in 1942 and 1950. In 1951, she was named an honorary member of the International Mark Twain Society, and in 1947, she received the Beaver Award from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for distinguished service to Canadian Radio for Just Mary.


Source: New Brunswick Library Encyclopedia –


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Tom Longboat

“I wouldn’t even send my dog to that place.” ~ Residential schools


TomLongboat - portaitCogwagee (Thomas Charles Longboat) (June 4, 1887 – January 9, 1949) was an Onondaga distance runner from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation Indian reserve near Brantford, Ontario, and for much of his career the dominant long distance runner of the time.

Longboat was born on the Six Nations reserve on June 4, 1887, a member of the Onondaga Nation. His Iroquois name was Cogwagee, which means “Everything.”

He was enrolled at the Mohawk Institute Residential School at age 12, a legal obligation under the Indian Act at that time. He hated life at the school, where he was pressured to give up his Onondaga beliefs in favour of Christianity, as well as his language. After one unsuccessful escape attempt, he tried again and reached his uncle’s home who agreed to hide him from authorities.

After his athletic successes, he was invited to speak at the institute but refused, stating that “I wouldn’t even send my dog to that place.”

tomLongboat - runningHe began racing in 1905, finishing second in the Victoria Day race at Caledonia, Ontario. His first important victory was in the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario in 1906, which he won by three minutes. In 1907 he won the Boston Marathon in a record time of 2:24:24 over the old 24-1/2 mile course, four minutes and 59 seconds faster than any of the previous ten winners of the event. He collapsed, however, in the 1908 Olympic marathon, along with several other leading runners, and a rematch was organized the same year at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Longboat won this race, turned professional, and in 1909 at the same venue won the title of Professional Champion of the World in another marathon.

His coaches did not approve of his alternation of hard workouts with “active rest” such as long walks. When he was a professional, these recovery periods annoyed his promoters and the sports press often labelled him “lazy,” although the practice of incorporating “hard”, “easy”, and “recovery” days into training is normal today. Because of this and other disputes with his managers Longboat bought out his contract, after which his times improved.

In 1914, Longboat enlisted in the Canadian Army and served as a dispatch runner in France during World War I. He was wounded twice, and once when he was mistakenly reported as dead, his wife remarried.

When he returned home after the war, things had changed. Professional racing was no longer the draw it once had been and, although he still competed in a few races, Longboat soon had to turn his attentions to making a living through other means.

In early in 1949 he developed pneumonia and, on Jan. 9 at the age of 61, Tom Longboat died.


My list of of interesting books about Canada (to date).


Alexander “Molly” Wood

 “One of Toronto’s most distinguished founding citizens.” ~ The Canadian Colonist, 1844.


alexander wood - statueAlexander Wood, businessman, militia officer, jp, and office holder; b. 1772 and baptized 25 January in Fetteresso, near Stonehaven, Scotland, son of James Wood and Margaret Barclay; d. unmarried 11 Sept. 1844 at Woodcot in the parish of Fetteresso.

Wood came to Upper Canada as a young man, settling in Kingston about 1793 and investing £330 in the Kingston Brewery in partnership with Joseph Forsyth and Alexander Aitken. He moved to York (Toronto) in 1797 to establish himself as a merchant. He and William Allan became partners; “neither advanced any money which brought us on a fair footing,” but they built their shop on Allan’s land. When the partnership was dissolved on 13 April 1801 its assets were divided with difficulty, so that neither partner wanted to renew their intercourse “by the exchange of a single word.”

Alexander Wood's original house and shop located at King and Frederick Streets
Alexander Wood’s original house and shop located at King and Frederick Streets

Wood immediately opened his own shop. Each autumn he ordered a wide assortment of goods from Glasgow or London, stressing quality and careful packing rather than price.

In 1810, Wood found himself at the centre of a scandal when he investigated a rape case. The victim, referred to as Miss Bailey, came to Wood claiming that she did not know the identity of her attacker, however she had scratched her assailant’s penis during the assault. In order to identify the assailant, Wood personally inspected the genitals of a number of suspects for injury. There is no evidence on the public record that Wood acted improperly during the investigation, nor indeed of Wood’s actual sexual orientation; however, contradictory rumours began to emerge about his conduct, including allegations that Miss Bailey never existed at all and that Wood had fabricated the rape charge as an opportunity to fondle and seduce young men.

When confronted with the charges by his friend, Judge William Dummer Powell, Wood wrote back, “I have laid myself open to ridicule & malevolence, which I know not how to meet; that the thing will be made the subject of mirth and a handle to my enemies for a sneer I have every reason to expect.” Wood became the subject of ridicule and was tagged with the nickname “Molly Wood”, “Molly” then being a derisive slang expression for a homosexual man. John Robinson, at the time a young law clerk in Powell’s office, called Wood the “Inspector General of private Accounts.”

Judge Powell buried the potential sodomy charges on condition that Wood leave Upper Canada, and Wood left for Scotland in October 1810.

Wood returned to York by 1812, resuming his prior appointment as a magistrate. He fought in the War of 1812 and was on the boards of several organizations. His life in York continued without incident until 1823, when Rev. John Strachan, a longtime friend of Wood’s, recommended him for a position on the 1812 War Claims Commission. Judge Powell was the appointing authority and refused Wood on moral grounds due to the 1810 scandal. Wood sued Powell for defamation and won, but Powell refused to pay and subsequently published a pamphlet attacking Wood even further.

Wood remained in York, continuing his service in civic duties for the next seventeen years. In 1827 he purchased 50 acres (0.2 km²) of land at Yonge and Carlton Streets, which was referred to as “Molly Wood’s Bush” throughout the 19th century.


The area once known as Molly Wood’s Bush is now part of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley gay village, and contains an Alexander Street, a Wood Street and an Alexander Place.

In 1994, playwrights John Wimbs and Christopher Richards launched a play entitled Molly Wood, based on Wood’s life. This production garnered Dora Awards for Best New Play and Best Production in 1995.

In 2005, the Church and Wellesley business association erected a statue of Wood in the neighbourhood, honouring him as a forefather of Toronto’s modern gay community. The statue by sculptor Del Newbigging was unveiled on May 28, 2005. The $200,000 cost was shared by the business association and the City of Toronto. The statue incorporates a rose on the lapel of Wood’s coat, in a secondary nod to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the prime minister who first decriminalized homosexuality in Canada.

Also in 2005, the business association launched a beer named for Wood. Alexander Wood Lager was brewed by Lakes of Muskoka Cottage Brewery and was marketed exclusively to bars in the Church and Wellesley area.


Wikipedia –

Dictionary of Canadian Biography –


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Johnny Fauquier – DSO (Double bar)

Probably Canada’s greatest bomber pilot

johnny fauquierJohn Emilius “Johnny” Fauquier DSO DFC (March 19, 1909 – April 3, 1981) was a Canadian aviator and Second World War Bomber Command leader. He commanded No. 405 Squadron RCAF and later No. 617 Squadron RAF (the Dambusters) over the course of the war. A bush pilot, prior to the war, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flight instructor in 1939. He joined 405 Squadron in 1941 and would fly operationally for the rest of the war, taking a drop in rank on one occasion to return to active command. During his three tours of operation he participated in Operation Hydra and dozens of other sorties over Europe.

Early years

John Emilius “Johnny” Fauquier was born at Ottawa, Ontario on March 19, 1909, educated at Ashbury College and then entered the investment business at Montreal, Quebec where he joined a flying club. After earning his commercial pilot’s licence he formed Commercial Airways at Noranda, Quebec and prior to the Second World War had flown some 3,000 hours as pilot in command on bush operations.

Second World War

Avro Lancaster bomber unloads its payload of bombs somewhere over Germany
Avro Lancaster bomber unloads its payload of bombs somewhere over Germany

He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939 as a Flight Lieutenant, completed an advanced course and served until mid-1941 as instructor of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan instructors. After a short period in England at a glider and paratrooper training center, he was posted to No. 405 Squadron RCAF. On returning in difficult weather conditions after bombing Berlin with the squadron on the night of November 7, 1941, he was forced to land his plane on a non-operational airfield, and as a result was temporarily suspected of being a spy by the Home Guard.

By February 1942, Fauquier had been promoted to acting Wing Commander and given command of the squadron. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for gallantry. Shortly afterwards he was transferred from operations to the RCAF’s Overseas Headquarters for staff duties. He then served a short term with No. 6 Group before once more taking command of No. 405 Squadron in February 1942.

During Operation Hydra in August 1943, a bombing raid on a German military research facility at Peenemünde, he acted as deputy master bomber, making 17 passes over the target. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in September 1943, in part for his leadership during the raid. Soon after that raid he was promoted to acting Group Captain of that squadron, which had become a member of No. 8 (Pathfinder) Group.

lancaster pilotDuring January 1944, he flew 38 sorties, completing his second tour of operations with No. 405 Squadron. He was then awarded a Bar to his DSO.

After promotion to acting Air Commodore—a rank precluded from operational flying—he was Mentioned in Despatches in December 1944. He then voluntarily reverted to Group Captain so that he might begin a third tour of operations, this time as commanding officer of No. 617 Squadron RAF (the Dambusters squadron), which he led from December until the end of the war. Under his command the Dambusters conducted raids against submarine pens, viaducts and their targets.

With the end of the war in Europe, he was awarded a second Bar to his DSO for his command of 617 Squadron. Pat MacAdam, author of Unbelievable Canadian War Stories: Well Beyond the Call of Duty, has this to say about Fauquier:

“Had Johnnie Fauquier been an American,” observes Pat MacAdam, “Hollywood might have passed over Audie Murphy, Congressional Medal of Honour winner and United States’ most decorated soldier, for star treatment. The movie “To Hell and Back,” which starred Audie Murphy himself, told the story of his heroism.

“Johnnie Fauquier went to hell and back 100 times on bombing raids over Berlin, other key German targets, and the Peenamunde V2 rocket bases on the Baltic Sea. The normal tour for a bomber piolet was 30 raids. He did three tours and then some. He was the first Canadian to command a bomber squadron in battle, commanding both the crack RCAF 495 Pathfinder Squadron and later the RAF’s legendary Dambusters, Johnnie Fauquier was awarded the Dstinguished Service Order Medal (second only to the Victoria Cross) three times—more than any other Canadian warrior. He also wore the distinctive ribbon of the Distinguished Flying Cross on his tunic.”

After the war

After the war Fauquier returned to private business. He was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974.

On July 4, 1964 Fauquier traveled to Calgary, Alberta with Minister of Defence Paul Hellyer, to observe the last official RCAF flight of an Avro Lancaster. This Lancaster, KB-976, was captained by F/L Lynn Garrison with F/L Ralph Langemann as his co-pilot. Other crew members were Captain E.J. McGoldrick, F/O Brian B. McKay, and Jimmy Sutherland, a wartime Lancaster flight engineer.

Surprisingly unsung in death

Fauquier died on April 3, 1981, yet his plain grey granite grave marker simply records that Air Commodore John Emilius Fauquier is at rest there.

Source: Wikipedia –

Conn Smythe

A Canadian Hockey Legend

conn smytheConstantine Falkland Cary Smythe, MC (February 1, 1895 – November 18, 1980) was a Canadian businessman, soldier and sportsman in ice hockey and horse racing. He is best known as the principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1927 to 1961 and as the builder of Maple Leaf Gardens. As owner of the Leafs during numerous championship years, his name appears on the Stanley Cup eight times: 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962.

Conn Smythe was born in Toronto, February 1, 1895. He first went to high school at Upper Canada College, and hated it. The following year, therefore, he transferred to Jarvis Collegiate Institute where he developed his athleticism, playing hockey, rugby, football and basketball, and playing on city championship teams in basketball and hockey in 1912.

At 17 Smythe become a homesteader on 150 acres (0.61 km2) in Clute Township, near Cochrane, Ontario, only to have the house he built destroyed by a devastating fire. He then changed his mind about living in the bush and enrolled in engineering studies at the University of Toronto in the fall of 1912. There he played hockey as a centre, captaining the Varsity Blues men’s ice hockey team to the finals of the 1914 Ontario Hockey Association junior championships and to the OHA junior championship the following year. The coach of the losing team in 1915 was Frank J. Selke, who years later would work for Smythe at Maple Leaf Gardens. Smythe also played on the University of Toronto football team, although not as a starter.

The First World War interrupted his studies. A week after winning the OHA championship in March 1915, Smythe and his eight teammates enlisted. Smythe recalled in his memoirs that he and several classmates tried to enlist at the beginning of the 1914–15 season, but were told to come back when they had beards. After attending the Royal School of Artillery in Kingston, Ontario he made full lieutenant, and was able to get himself transferred to the 40th (Sportsmen’s) Battery of Hamilton, organized by publishing figure Gordon Southam, son of William Southam. The unit, with Smythe as team manager, organized a team to compete in the Ontario Hockey Association’s senior league; they were one of four Toronto-based teams in the league in 1916. He played one game at centre, and then decided to replace himself with a better player. The team did not complete the season, as the 40th Battery went overseas in February 1916.

conn smythe - maple leaf posterThe Battery was ordered into the Ypres salient. On October 12, shelling found their position killing Major Southam and Sergeant-Major Norm Harvie, making Smythe temporarily commander of the Battery. The Battery fought for nearly two months in the trenches near the Somme before being relieved. In February 1917, Smythe earned a Military Cross, when during an attack the Germans counter-attacked with grenades. Smythe ran into the fight and killed three Germans and helped several wounded Canadian soldiers back to safety. Smythe then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in July 1917. One of his instructors was Billy Barker, who would later become the first president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Following the war, Smythe returned to Toronto. With his accrued Army salary and the proceeds from the sale of his homestead plot, he started a sand and gravel business. For a while, the business became a partnership with Frank Angotti, who owned a paving business. To support the need for sand and gravel, Smythe bought land northwest of Toronto for a sand pit. He returned to the University of Toronto and finished his civil engineering degree in 1920. Irene and Conn were married during the school year. Smythe and his paving business partner split, and Smythe retained the sand and gravel business. The company was named C. Smythe Limited and the company slogan was “C. Smythe for sand”, which he had painted on his trucks, the lettering in white on the blue of the trucks. Frank Selke, who had moved to Toronto, was one of Smythe’s first employees in the business. Irene took sand and gravel orders over the phone as well as taking care of newborn son Stafford. Smythe would own the business until 1961.

Queen Elizabeth II congratulates Maple Leaf Captain, Ted Kennedy, on her first visit to Canada in 1951
Queen Elizabeth II congratulates Maple Leaf Captain, Ted Kennedy, on her first visit to Canada in 1951

Meanwhile he continued to coach with the University of Toronto, and was even involved with the New York Rangers as a scout, but dispute with the then owner, Tex Rickard ended that relationship. However, using money he had received from Rickard, he doubled it by betting on a football game, and then doubled it again when he bet on the Rangers to defeat the St. Pats in Toronto. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1928, their second year of existence, largely with the players Smythe had brought to the team.

The Rangers went to the top of their division, while the St. Pats were doing poorly. J. P. Bickell, a part-owner of the St. Pats, contacted Smythe about taking over the team as coach, but Smythe turned him down. Smythe was more interested in owning the team or a share of the team, and told Bickell so. Not long after, the St. Pats were up for sale and Bickell offered Smythe a chance to become a part-owner. The club had a tentative agreement to be sold for $200,000 to a Philadelphia group, which would move the team. If Smythe could raise $160,000, Bickell would not sell his $40,000 share and the team would remain in Toronto. Smythe was successful, and on February 14, 1927, Smythe invested $10,000 and with the help of some partners bought the St. Pats, renaming them the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maple leaf Gardens, 1935
Maple leaf Gardens, 1935

In 1929, Smythe decided, in the midst of the Great Depression, that the Maple Leafs needed a new arena. He knew it would take over a million dollars to construct and he got backing from Sun Life for half. The site was land from T. Eaton Co. on Carlton, a site Smythe selected because it was on the street car line. Smythe gave up the coaching position to concentrate on the arena project. The building started construction on June 1, 1931, and was ready on November 12, 1931, after five months. As part of a corporate reorganization, Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. was founded that year to own both the team and the arena. To pay for the building construction, the construction workers were paid with Maple Leaf Gardens stock instead of 20% of their pay. Selke, who had union connections, and Smythe were successful in negotiating the payment method in exchange for using unionised workers.

Thus, As owner of the Leafs during numerous championship years, his name appears on the Stanley Cup eight times: 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962.