Toronto’s Sporting Past explored in a new exhibition at the TD Gallery, Toronto Reference Library

June 24, 2015 | Media Relations

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In celebration of Pan Am Games, a look back at sport in a simpler time

Toronto Public Library is pleased to announce a new exhibition, Toronto’s Sporting Past, a nostalgic look back at sport in a simpler time, as seen through the library’s Special Collections.

The spirit of sport and competition has long been a part of Toronto’s story. As the city gears up to celebrate the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Toronto’s Sporting Past offers a look back at the lively history of field, water and winter sports in the city.

The exhibition highlights a broad spectrum of historical documents and images from the Toronto Public Library’s special collections, including rare publications that first set out the modern Canadian rules and regulations of sports. The exhibition draws on materials from several of the library’s special collections, including the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana and the Canadian Documentary Art Collection, both housed in the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library.

Generously sponsored by TD Bank Group, Toronto’s Sporting Past is the latest exhibition at the library’s TD Gallery, located on the main floor of the Toronto Reference Library. The show opens Saturday, July 4, 2015 at 9 a.m. and runs until Saturday, September 5, 2015. 

What:              Toronto’s Sporting Past   

When:             July 4 to September 5, 2015    

Where:            TD Gallery, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street – Main Level

Hours:             Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Exhibition Highlights:

  • A stunning portrait of world champion sculler Ned Hanlan – Toronto’s first sporting hero – on convex glass (known as a crystoleum photograph)
  • Rare publications that first set out the modern Canadian rules and regulations of sports including lacrosse, baseball and croquet.
  • Ephemera, trade catalogues and broadsides advertising early made-in-Toronto bicycles and illustrating the changing fashions of Toronto wheelmen and wheelwomen in the 1890s.
  • Composite photographs of Toronto’s early sporting clubs – including the Wanderer’s Bicycle Club, the Toronto Hunt Club and the Toronto Curling Club.

Media Preview:

Members of the media are invited for a pre-opening tour between 2 and 4 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Please contact [email protected] to reserve a spot.

Electronic images of gallery material are available upon request. 

Related Programming:

Sports on Film – Afternoon Films (Free film screenings followed by a guided tour of Toronto’s Sporting Past)

Thursday, July 9: The Boy in Blue

Based on a real-life story, the Boy in Blue follows Ned Hanlan (played by Nicolas Cage), a competitive rowing champion from Toronto. Though Ned is a trouble-prone young man, his fierce determination makes him a formidable athlete.

2 p.m.

Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium - Toronto Reference Library


Thursday, July 23: Chariots of Fire 

Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

2 p.m.

Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium - Toronto Reference Library


Monday, August 17: The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story 

Known as Quebec's greatest hockey player, Maurice Richard was the face of Canadian hockey in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. This biopic chronicles the life of the "Rocket," who battled adversity at every turn to become one of the NHL's biggest legends.

2 p.m.

Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium - Toronto Reference Library


Wednesday, August 26: 42  

42 is the powerful story of Jackie Robinson, the legendary baseball player who broke Major League Baseball's colour barrier when he joined the roster of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

2 p.m.

Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium - Toronto Reference Library


About the TD Gallery in the Toronto Reference Library


A relaxed, contemporary exhibit space at the heart of the city, the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library is a space for Torontonians and visitors alike to connect with our collective cultural memory. Stories are told and histories explored through rare and unique items – including art, manuscripts, sculpture, books and artifacts – curated from over four million pieces collected by the library since 1884. Many exhibits also feature complementary contributions from cultural and community partners.


About TD Bank Group


TD Bank Group invests in communities in order to effect positive change in the places where it operates and where its clients and employees live and work. In 2014, TD donated over $82 million to support community organizations in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In Canada, TD focuses on education and financial literacy, creating opportunities for young people and the environment. For more information, please visit


About Toronto Public Library


Toronto Public Library is one of the world's busiest urban public library systems. Every year, 18 million people visit our branches in neighbourhoods across the city and borrow more than 32 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, visit our website at or call Answerline at 416-393-7131. To get the most current updates on what's happening at the library, follow us on Twitter @torontolibrary.




Media Contact/Media Image Reproduction:

[email protected]