The new decade picked up where the ‘40’s had left off, with the cream of the city’s high school talent continuing to pour into the coal bin-turned-dressing room across from Trenholme Park.
The teams of 1950 and ‘51 were distinguished by a wealth of excellent running backs: Moe Martin, George Economides, Karl Hilzinger, Gordie Raza, Harry Shugrue and George Meehan. They were QRFU champions both years, but lost again both times in the Eastern Canadian Final to their nemesis, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
In 1952 and ‘53, the Maple Leafs fielded strong, but not overpowering, teams anchored by huge linemen such as future CFLer Ray Baillie (Ray played in the CFL from 1956 to 1965 for Montreal and Edmonton) and his friend Sonny Raper. Though they finished first both seasons, they lost in the playoffs to Verdun in ‘52 and to Lakeshore in ‘53.
After an undistinguished season in 1954, management gave the club a sabbatical in 1955 while they looked for an infusion of “new blood”.
It came with a rush in ‘56, with a new head coach, Roy Chesley, assisted by George Economides and Gerry Hogan and a wave of stars.
Led by future pros Joe Poirier,(Joe played 168 games for Ottawa Rough Riders from 1959-1970) Bob Dickey, George Alivisatos and Wally Lencz, they won successive Quebec championships in 1956 and ‘57 - only to be thwarted both times by Toronto Parkdale from going to the Dominion final.
But in 1958, the Maple Leafs made a breakthrough that hadn’t been achieved since the pre-war days of the M.A.A.A. Winged Wheelers.
The ‘58 Maple Leafs, quarterbacked by Bobby Anderson and sparked by Kevin Dunnigan, Wally Kunanec, John Schaffer and Vere Griffith, won the Eastern Canadian championship by beating the North York Knights in the Old Westmount Athletic Grounds, 22-6.
The following week they lost the Dominion championship at the same park to the Saskatoon Hilltops in an 18-14 thriller.
In 1959, they were QRFU champions for the fourth straight year, but lost to North York in the Eastern Canada final, 14-0.
After 1958, though, Ontario’s aura of invincibility had finally been pierced - by the NDG Maple Leafs.