By Alan Hudes
Nearly two months since the Maple Leaf Gardens (MLG) time capsule was unveiled, new details have emerged regarding the mysteries associated with it.
Among the artifacts discovered — hockey rulebooks, construction documents, and newspapers from 1931 — was a small, ivory, elephant that left students, faculty and Toronto residents alike pondering its inclusion.
“One of the things that piqued interest in the (Athletics) department and with the athletes is just the whole thought of a time capsule,” said Stephanie White, Ryerson’s Associate Director of Athletics. “When it was uncovered I think it really brought a little bit of energy and excitement around the building again.”
With the elephant drawing a wide range of speculation among the Ryerson and Toronto community, two theories have been brought forward; the first coming straight from the immediate family of Conn Smythe, former Maple Leafs owner and MLG visionary.
According to his son Hugh Smythe, the elephant was a gift to his father from a friend known as “Logvinoff,” after meeting each other as prisoners during World War I, but there is no confirmation whether this idea is in fact correct.
“I feel like (Hugh Smythe) is just making an assumption,” said Sebastian Novais of the Ryerson men’s soccer team.
The second hypothesis is garnering more attention.
In 1927, Conn Smythe coached the University of Toronto Varsity Grads hockey team, a squad that captured the Allan Cup as Canadian amateur champions and represented Canada in the 1928 Olympics. One notable player on that team was Charles Delahaye, who kept a shadow box with all the medals won over his career.
The box now hangs in the home of his daughter, Denise Casey, and includes both the Allan Cup medal and a small ivory elephant just above it.
Casey feels the elephant, which is similar to the one in the time capsule, may have been a good luck charm given by Smythe to his players in advance of the 1928 Olympics.
“It gives more reasoning as to what a small little elephant would have meaning for,” said Angela Tilk of the Ryerson women’s basketball team. “I think that it’s representative of Canadian hockey and that’s why it would be included in such an iconic place.”
The copper box containing the time capsule also included an 80-year-old secret. The name and address of its creator, M.B. Campbell, 124 Lindsay Ave., Toronto, was engraved on the lid of the box, leading to another search for answers.
After studying City of Toronto archives and a family tree, historian Robin Borgoyne determined that the individual in question was named Millard Breuls Campbell, an electrician involved with MLG’s construction.
With the opening of the recently renamed Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens on the horizon, Ryerson is already planning a new time capsule.
Both Tilk and Novais are in favour of history repeating itself — by having the initials of the athletes of the year or those of Athletics Director, Dr. Ivan Joseph, engraved on the lid.
White, however, has another idea.
“I’d like to see Eggy the Ram,” White said. “Everywhere I go where Eggy is — people love him. He is the one person that has been here for all time and he will outlast the rest of us.”