Learn about the history of hockey at the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame. (Photo: Alamy)
When you plan a trip to Toronto, you’re not just visiting the nation where ice hockey was born, you’re heading straight into its capital. Lover of the game or not, you’ll find it hard to separate Canadian hockey from the city. Obsession with the sport is ingrained in locals from birth. Give a nod to that obsession with a trip to the city’s beloved Hockey Hall of Fame.
An Ode to Hockey History
Founded in 1943, the Hall moved to its current location at the corner of Yonge and Front Streets in the early 1990s. Built to serve as a tribute to the sport, the most buzzworthy spot in the Rococo-style building is the trophy-filled Great Hall, where you can touch and take photos with a faithfully recreated Stanley Cup.
While perusing the authentic gear tucked in the players’ stalls at the replica Montreal Canadians dressing room, you may notice the lack of helmets. How far the game’s equipment has evolved is evident in the old-school goalie masks, which look perilously flimsy compared to the sculpted cages of today.
The Hall of Fame’s global section has interactive exhibits focused on the International Ice Hockey Federation, a 70-member collective with a few surprising members, including India and Jamaica. Before leaving, check out the Great Hall’s soaring dome, filled with carefully restored stained glass, and the huge bronze statue at the building’s front depicting gleeful young players about to pounce on the ice.
Give in to Maple Leafs Mania
The Hall of Fame’s hockey memorabilia will probably get you in the mood for the real thing. If hitting the ice is not an option, try to score tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre, better-known as the ACC. Located about a half-mile from the Hockey Hall of Fame, the ACC is hard to miss, with its ultra-mod glass front and 30-by-50-foot outdoor screen that broadcasts games over MapleLeaf Square.
Get there early to browse vintage images and videos of pivotal Maple Leaf moments. Look up from your seats and you’ll see, tucked in the stadium’s rafters, a collection of team banners celebrating the Leafs’ 13 Stanley Cup wins and its most heralded players.
Fuel Up for the Game
If you need sustenance, head to The Real Sports Bar & Grill on the stadium’s upper level. Crowned “Best North American Sports Bar” by ESPN in 2010, the massive space is decked out with chandeliers of hockey sticks and there are more than 100 beers on tap. Or head to The Dog House on the lower level, famed for its indulgent hot dogs, like the cilantro-topped Butter Chicken Dog to the Poutine Dog, slathered with gravy and cheese curds.