Canada’s favorite sport is celebrated in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The world’s most comprehensive collection of hockey memorabilia, including the Stanley Cup trophy, is on display here.
The Hall of Fame is partly housed in a magnificent former Bank of Montreal building that is now incorporated into Brookfield Place, a modern office complex. You access the Hall of Fame from inside Brookfield Place. Take the elevator to the lower floor and signs will guide you to the entrance.
The idea for the creation of a Hockey Hall of Fame were launched in 1940, shortly after the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame the previous year. In 1943 the city of Kingston was chosen as the location for the Hall of Fame and two years later the first members were inducted. However, the construction of an actual building dragged on for years and in 1958, tired of waiting, the president of the NHL decided to move the Hall of Fame to Toronto. Three years later the Hockey Hall of Fame’s first home was finally completed; it officially opened on August 26, 1961, at the CNE, the Canadian National Exhibition.
After it had outgrown its original location, the Hall of Fame decided to move to downtown Toronto, where it would be more easily accessible thanks to the proximity to public transport. In 1983 the Hockey Hall of Fame opened its doors in BCE Place (now Brookfield Place), which it still calls home.
The main building that anchors the Hall of Fame is a magnificent piece of architecture, a shrine worthy of a fine arts museum. It was built in 1885 as the headquarters of the Bank of Montreal until it moved to a new location in 1949. It was still in use as a branch bank until 1982. At the end of that decade, the historic building was incorporated into a modern office complex.
The building is one of a few in the area that survived the Great Fire of 1904. It was designed in the Rococo style by the local architectural firm of Darling & Curry. The building is decorated with many ornamental details, but its most impressive feature is the 45-foot (14 meter) high stained-glass dome of the Great Hall, constructed by Robert McCausland. The glass dome is decorated with colorful mythological figures that surround eight emblems representing provinces of Canada.
The Hall of Fame’s exhibits are divided into different zones. One of the largest is the NHL zone, where you can find artifacts and memorabilia from some of the world’s most famous personalities to have played the game, including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Maurice Richard.
An equally large zone is dedicated to the international game, and highlights both famous players and games from international tournaments, as well as memorable events such as the “Miracle on Ice” from 1980, the 2010 Olympic ‘Golden Goal’ and Canada’s “greatest team” of 1972.
There’s more to do in the Hall of Fame than just look at memorabilia. In the Broadcast zone, visitors can try their hand at calling the play-by-play of famous goals. There are also video game consoles on hand where you can play two-on-two games, and those who know how to play the game for real can even grab a hockey stick and play against a computer-simulated player or goalie.
The less sportive can test their knowledge of the game in the Slapshots Trivia, which selects questions from a database with 10,000 entries and pits players against one another.
The most prestigious trophies in the world of hockey are displayed in the Great Hall, the 14 meter (45f) high main hall of the former bank building. In this room, under a magnificent skylight, legends of the game are honored with biographical sketches and all major NHL trophies can be seen here, including the very first Stanley Cup, donated by Lord Stanley in 1892.
A replica of the current Stanley Cup, a gargantuan silver and nickel trophy, features prominently in the Great Hall. You can have your picture taken with the trophy, or you can just try to decipher the names of the more than two thousand names engraved on it.
The Stanley Cup is one of the largest trophies in professional sports: it measures almost ninety centimeters tall (35″) and weighs over fifteen kilograms (34 pounds).
Dressing Room of the Montreal Canadiens
Another unique feature in the Hockey Hall of Fame is a replica of the dressing room of the Montreal Canadiens from the Montreal Forum, where the NHL’s most lauded team won more than twenty Stanley cups. Even the jerseys and skates are present; only the players are absent.
For many visitors, the most popular attractions in the Hockey Hall of Fame are the Shoot Out and Shut Out games, where people can either try to score a goal against a top goalie or prevent a top player from scoring. You play with real pucks and hockey sticks: in Shoot Out your opponent is a life-size computer simulation of a goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist and in Shut Out you try to stop a player like Alexander Ovechkin from scoring against you (equipped with protective gear). The computer screen immediately shows the score after playing.
Outside the building, on the corner of Yonge and Front Streets, is a bronze sculpture entitled ‘Our Game’ that shows enthusiastic players leap over the boards during a hockey game. The five meter (17 ft.) long sculpture was created in 1993 by Edie Parker, an Ontario artist born in Hungary. The sculpture is one of the most photographed sights in Toronto.