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Family businesses and historical treasure troves

What happens when a family-controlled business moves into an iconic building? It appears the answer is that history comes alive. Or at least that was the case for Canada-based Loblaw Companies, which recently took over Maple Leaf Gardens, once home to hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What happens when a family-controlled business moves into an iconic building? It appears the answer is that history comes alive. Or at least that was the case for Canada-based Loblaw Companies, which recently took over Maple Leaf Gardens, once home to hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Within the walls of the building, Loblaws, controlled by the Weston family through food business George Weston, discovered a 1931 time capsule, complete with four newspapers, three hockey rule books and a letter from the building’s directors describing the design and construction details of the new arena.

Strangely, a small ivory elephant with fragments of a blue ribbon was also found in the box – although it’s not clear why this was included.

"Maple Leaf Gardens holds a lot of special memories for millions of Canadians and, it turns out, it also held a few surprises from 1931 that were just waiting to be found," said Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University, which was tasked with opening the time capsule.

The Weston family first became involved in Loblaws in the 1940s, when Garfield Weston acquired 100,000 shares of Loblaw stock. His grandson Galen Weston Jr, married to Bata Shoe heiress Alexandra Schmidt, is now chairman of Loblaws.

The Westons currently control about 60% of George Weston, which in turn controls 62% of Loblaws.  

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