Temple Gardens - Moose Jaw

Vancouver - Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - by: Gord McCaw
  Hello Timothy,


I have just been looking at your site on Moose Jaw (where I spent my first 19 years, I left in 1972) and I heartily commend you on your efforts and insightful commentary. However, there is one thing I must correct you on: Temple Gardens Spa is not located on the site of the venerated (and fondly remembered by a very many) Temple Gardens dance hall. "Temples" (or "Tramples" --depends who you talk to) was actually located one block north of Temple Gardens Spa, on Cordova St., across the street from the west entrance to Crescent Park. It was at the other end of the block from the, long defunct, Grant Hall Hotel.




Regrettably, it was torn down after being acquired in the mid-70's by the owners of the Grant Hall--in their high wisdom--to make way for...a parking lot.



den of

For many generations, Temples was THE place to go for a night out of dancing and to hang with your friends. When I was in high school in the late 60's we went practically every weekend relishing its reputation as a "den of iniquity". My father gave me many dire warnings, which, of course, I ignored. One of my best friend's mother cried when he made his maiden voyage to Temples--forever forfeiting his innocence! Another friend's parents simply forbade him to go.




Temple Gardens was much more than just a dance hall. My father told me stories of attending both boxing and wrestling matches there, just after the war. One story he liked to tell was of a hapless Japanese wrestler who preferred wrestling barefoot. Anti-Japanese sentiments were still running quite high at the time, prompting a woman who was at ringside to whack the poor guy on the foot with her high-heeled shoe. Dad said that was one wrestler who very nearly hit the ceiling!




I even worked at Temples for about a year, behind the concession stand and cleaning up after the nightly bingos. Some of my fondest memories are of going roller-skating on its hardwood floors (with the old, metal-wheeled skates that attached to your street shoes) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons about 1964-65.




Many of those afternoons we were serenaded by maybe the best rock band that ever came out of Moose Jaw--Mozart and the Wolfgang--which was fronted by the drop-dead handsome, Brown twins, Larry and Gary. They were waycool dudes because they were amongst the first guys in Moose Jaw to have ... GASP ...Long Hair!!!! That was very, very brave back then, because most of the population was pretty redneck.




Another amusing story for you concerns Burton Cummings of The Guess Who: I had him as a passenger in my taxi, in Vancouver, in the early 80's. The Guess Who played Moose Jaw at least twice, the first time was at the Natatorium, in the dead-o'-the-winter of 1965 (they used to drop in a hardwood floor over the pool, for basketball in the winter months). The second time was--where else--Temple Gardens... I asked him if he remembered those occasions. He sure did. He said of Temple Gardens: " ...that's where I saw the biggest fight I ever saw in my life!!! "




Many, many times when I have met people from hither and yon, and the talk turned to where we were from, as soon as Moose Jaw was mentioned, almost to a person (with those who knew it) they would mention either Temple Gardens and/or Crescent Park. Enclosed is a photo of Temple Gardens, taken in July of 1977, only months before it was ripped down. More's the pity.
  Best regards...
  Gord McCaw
--------------More on Moose Jaw
  Randy Dobrescu's site http://www.unibase.com/~srdobres/postcards.html