For­est Hill man cave contents sell for $1.9 mil

Toronto Maple Leafs mem­o­ra­bilia bought by the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Adam Stein­berg

Ci­ti­zens from across Canada can now view one of the largest col­lec­tions of Toronto Maple Leafs mem­o­ra­bilia thanks to a re­cent trans­ac­tion be­tween one For­est Hill res­i­dent and a na­tional mu­seum.

Mike Wil­son, also known as “the Ul­ti­mate Leafs Fan,” and his part­ner Debra Thuet, have been search­ing for the past four years for a new, per­ma­nent res­i­dence for their mas­sive collection. After nu­mer­ous dis­cus­sions with re­al­tors, auc­tion­eers, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Toronto Maple Leafs and a number of cor­po­ra­tions, Wil­son said he’s thrilled his collection’s new home will be a stone’s throw from Par­lia­ment Hill at the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory in Gatineau, Que.

At the age of seven, Wil­son re­ceived his first col­lec­tor’s piece from a rel­a­tive: de­fence­man Carl Brewer’s stick signed by the en­tire team. Then came other items: news­pa­per clip­pings, trad­ing cards and more.

“You can point to any­thing in the room, and I’ll tell you where I got it,” he said. “It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s a coin or the most ex­pen­sive item here.”

Hun­dreds of peo­ple have vis­ited Wil­son’s home in For­est Hill to see the collection for them­selves, in­clud­ing hockey big shots such as Bren­dan Shana­han, Bobby Orr, Brian Burke and Wayne Gret­zky.

Jenny El­li­son, sports and leisure cu­ra­tor at the mu­seum, said the collection is ap­praised at $1.9 mil­lion. It not only doc­u­ments some of the great­est play­ers to hit the ice, “but also the cul­tural im­pact of hockey, behind the scenes pol­i­tics of NHL fran­chises and ev­ery­day ex­pe­ri­ence of fans,” El­li­son wrote in an email to Post City.

Yet some diehard fans are un­happy with Wil­son’s choice.

“You couldn’t have sold it to a mu­seum in Toronto?” Wil­son quoted from an email writ­ten to him by a fan.

Al­though he re­mains res­o­lute in his de­ci­sion to get his collection out of his man cave and into a more public set­ting, there were a few stip­u­la­tions to the sale he wanted to se­cure. He said he wanted to have the abil­ity to con­tinue to work and build upon the collection.

“When we met the peo­ple in Ot­tawa they said … ‘We didn’t know your plan, but we were going to in­sist you be a part of it,’’’ said Wil­son. “Ba­si­cally they laid out ev­ery­thing that I’d hoped for.”

Ac­cord­ing to El­li­son, 35 pieces of the collection are cur­rently on dis­play at the mu­seum un­til Oct. 9. They will then travel to Pointe-à-Cal­lière in Mon­treal and the Man­i­toba Mu­seum in Win­nipeg.

Wil­son said the sale rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately 75 per cent of his collection, which com­prises more than 2,000 pieces. Some of the sold pieces in­clude Johnny Bower’s pads and chest pro­tec­tor; hockey cards from the 1920s; orig­i­nal doors and lock­ers from Maple Leaf Gar­dens; and sweaters from Ge­orge Arm­strong, Tim Horton and Dave Keon, as well as a number of ad­di­tional vin­tage mem­o­ra­bilia such as pro­grams and ad­ver­tise­ments.

Mike Wil­son stands with part of his collection in his For­est Hill home

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