On September 3, 1879 the first Toronto Industrial Exhibition opened for three weeks on what is now known as the Exhibition Grounds. Its mandate was to foster the development of agriculture, industry and the arts. The first Industrial Exhibition replaced the earlier provincial fairs. General admission was 25 cents and over 100,000 people attended. The Crystal Palace was its main building, but by 1894 more buildings had been erected.
[1- Toronto Industrial Fair - 1884]
[2- Toronto Industrial Exhibition - 1888 poster]
[3- Toronto Industrial Exhibition - 1894]
[4- Canadian National Exhibition Midway in 1904]
The Toronto Industrial Exhibition later became the Canadian National Exhibition in 1904. None of the original 19th century buildings have survived, but the oldest existing exhibition buildings are about 100 years old, which comprise a national historic site, including the Press Building (1905), the oldest among them.
[5- CNE Press Building - built in 1905]
[6- CNE Fire Town Hall - May 28, 1918]
This building today is manned by the Toronto Police Service.
[7- Canadian National Exhibition Poster - 1919]
[8- CNE circa 1925]
[9- CNE - The Plaza in 1927]
[10- CNE Princes' Gates]
In 1927, the Princes’ Gates were officially opened by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and Prince George (later The Duke of Kent), on August 31st during that year’s CNE. The Gates were built to celebrate Canada’s 60th anniversary of Confederation. First to pass through the gate was a Veterans Parade, a tradition that later became the annual Warriors’ Day Parade.
[11- CNE Princes' Gates]
The Princes’ Gates are made of a mix of stone and concrete. The statute at the top of the arch is the “Goddess of Winged Victory,” an interpretation of the original Winged Victory of Samothrace, designed by architect Alfred Chapman of Chapman & Oxley, and carved by Charles McKechnie in Beaux-Art style. In her hand she holds a single maple leaf. There are nine pillars to either side of the main arch, representing the nine Canadian provinces in existence at the time of construction. Flanking the central arch are various figures representing progress, industry, agriculture, arts and science.
In 1987 the gates became listed under the Ontario Heritage Act.
[12- Automotive Building]
The Automotive Building was opened in 1929. Both radio and television had their Canadian beginnings at the CNE in 1938 when a demonstration was done in the Horticultural Building with sound and pictures, traveling by wire to the Automotive Building.
[13- CNE Horticultural Building]
[14- The Old CNE Grandstand in 1929 before being destroyed by fire]
The CNE was not held between 1942 and 1946, when the land and its facilities were turned over to the Department of National Defence as a training ground. After World War II, it was used as a demobilization centre.
To date the CNE has always featured exhibits on the latest technological advances in industry and agriculture.
[15- Scadding Cabin - 1794]
Other buildings on the exhibition grounds include the Scadding Cabin, a small building, located adjacent to the Fort Rouillé Monument and in the shadow of the wind turbine, can be found on the western grounds of the CNE. It is not only the oldest building on the grounds, but the oldest building in Toronto. It was built by the Queen’s York Rangers in 1794 on behalf of John Scadding, who served as clerk (essentially, an executive assistant) to the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe.
It is a squat, two-storey log cabin with low ceilings, designed to retain the heat from the fire in winter close to its occupants. It is said that John Graves Simcoe, who was over 6 ft (1.8 m) tall, had to stoop in order to enter the building.
Scadding was given a plot of land from what is now just north of Gerrard Street East, south to the waterfront. The cabin was built close to the Don River's east side, on what is now part of the Don Valley Parkway, just south of Queen Street East.
Scadding sold the property in 1818 to William Smith. In 1879, his son William Smith offered the cabin to the York Pioneers, a local historical society. Around this time someone mistook the information concerning the original owner for the cabin, leading to it being erroneously called "The Governor Simcoe cabin". The original cabin was disassembled from its original site and rebuilt by the York Pioneers, along with an adjacent cabin made out of new logs, on the current site, just in time for the original Toronto Industrial Exhibition in 1879.
John Scadding's youngest son, Henry Scadding wrote an early history of York/Toronto and set the record straight on who the original owner of the cabin was. When he died in 1901, the York Pioneers renamed it "The Scadding Cabin", in honour of this son of the original owner, who had also been a past president of their society.
The building as it now stands is little changed from its original construction. Apparently an additional 7 ft (2.1 m) extension that would have appeared to the south of the building was not moved. The second cabin constructed next to it by the York Pioneers was built using wood that was too green, and it was demolished a few years after construction. Over the years some of the timbers have been replaced, and the cabin was remounted on a stone foundation in the late part of the 20th century. Inside the cabin are furnishings appropriate to a house in Upper Canada in the 1830s, and some known to have belonged to Simcoe.
[16- The Government Building - 1912]
The Medieval Times Building on the exhibition grounds was formerly known as Government Building and later as Arts, Crafts and Hobbies Building. It was built in 1912 by architect G. W. Gouinlock, in a similar style to the Horticulture Building.
The Horse Palace (1931) is used to host the annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. When built the Art Deco building was considered the best equestrian facility in Canada.
Photo Credits: -wikipedia commons.
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