During the 1980s Leaside Memorial Community Gardens was a popular place for sports card enthusiasts who gathered once a month to buy, sell or trade memorabilia.
When the recession of the 1990s hit, the sports card industry began drying up and in 1994 the regular card show at the Gardens shut down.
Leaside Gardens has since returned to its former glory after the organizer of the Toronto Card Show, Frank Williamson, decided to bring a monthly card show back to the area in 2006.
“We brought it back,” Williamson said. “We brought back something that started many years ago.”
When the card shows at Leaside Gardens ended there was no regular card show in Toronto, so he and some other collectors got together and started one.
“There wasn’t a regular monthly show in Toronto,” he said. “There was in Cambridge, Kingston and Ottawa, but not right here in Toronto.”
Williamson wanted to bring something unique to the event and make it fun for everyone.
“We started off as fans and collectors ourselves,” Williamson said. “We wanted to put together a well-run and fun show with door prizes every hour and bring in autograph guests.”
While the show is still small compared to other sports card events, it’s managed to attract big-name athletes to the show. Williamson explained that when former Toronto Maple Leaf Frank Mahovlich made an autograph appearance at the show the lineup went around the building and out the door.
Jeff Tyson, 22, has been collecting sports card for 14 years and is a card dealer. He started dealing cards because of his dad’s considerable assortment of cards.
“I started collecting when I was eight,” Tyson said. “I started with Curtis Joseph and I went from there.”
This is only the second time that Tyson has attended the Toronto Card Show as a dealer but doesn’t feel he is one.
“I am not a dealer, I am more of a collector,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Besides collecting hockey cards, Tyson has another sports hobby. He collects autographs through the mail.
“For anyone looking to get into hockey collecting it’s a really inexpensive way to start,” he said. “You can get a couple autographed cards for two or three bucks.”
Shane Yan has been collecting hockey cards for over 20 years and has been coming to the Toronto Card Show for years.
“It’s fun,” Yan said. “You never know what you are going to get.”
The next show is on Mar. 20. Admission is $3 at the door, and free for women and kids under 12. For more information visit www.torontocardshow.com