Toronto’s architectural gems—the Princes’ Gates at the CNE

12 Aug


The Princes’ Gates at the eastern end of the CNE grounds are truly one of the most attractive and impressive architectural gems of the city. Each year, when the annual late-summer fair opens, thousands pass under the great neo-classical arch to enter the grounds. The concept of building enormous arches to commemorate important events or personages, originated in ancient Rome. One of the most famous of these is the Arch of Septimuis Severus, constructed in 206 CE to honour the Emperor Severus. Rome’s arches provided the inspiration for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 1806, and the Washington Square Arch erected in New York City in 1902.

Toronto’s Princes’ Gates was opened in 1927 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation and the visit of the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, and his brother Prince George, the Duke of York, crowned King George VI after his brother’s abdication. 


                      The Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome.

The Princes’ Gates were designed by the architectural firm of Chapman and Oxley and were officially opened by H.R.H. Edward, Prince of Wales on 30 August 1927, on the occasion of his visit to Canada to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (60th) anniversary of Confederation. The gates were constructed of sculpted stone (cement), and the statues atop it were modelled by Charles D. McKenzie. The gates were originally named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates,” but the name was later changed to “The Princes’ Gates” to honour the two young royals who officiated at their opening.

Above the central arch of the gate is the goddess of “Winged Victory,” the figure’s right hand holding high a hero’s crown. Originally, it held a lamp. The left hand grasps a single maple leaf, symbolic of the Canadian nation. At the feet of figure, on the far sides, are sea horses amid ocean waves. A row of nine pillars, one on either side of the great archway, represent the nine provinces that were members of the confederation the year that the gate was built. Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949.


The goddess of winged victory, holding high a hero’s crown. This is not the same statue that was above the arch in 1927. It was damaged by pollution and erosion during the years, and was replaced by a replica.


          The goddess of Winged Victory and the sea horses at her feet


The nine pillars on the north side of the arch, representing the provinces. A similar set of pillars adorns the south side of the arch. 

DSCN1810  DSCN1816

The archway and the Greek/Roman decorative designs under the arch.


                            The Princes’ Gates, spring, 2013.


View of the Prince’s Gates on 2 May 1928, the year following their inauguration.


           Bleachers erected at the CNE on for the 1927 visit of the Prince of Wales.

f1548_s0393_it15888[1]  INspecting honour guard, CNE 1927

         The Prince of Wales inspecting the guard at the CNE in 1927


                                    The Princes’ Gates, May 2013.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

For links to previous posts about the CNE throughout the years

The CNE when “The Flyer” (rollercoaster) was king of the midway.

Going wild at the 2013 CNE.

Memories of the CNE of yesteryears.


The old Gooderham fountain at the CNE, which preceded the Princess Margaret Fountain, was a copy of those in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square

Ten suggestions to improve the CNE

Attending the 2011 Ex.

Memories and photos of the Grandstand shows of the 1950s

Postcard views of the CNE from the 1940s

More postcard views of the CNE from the 1940s

The historic fountain at the CNE that has now disappeared

A post about the sculpture in butter of Rob Ford

Visiting the 2012 CNE

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings 

To view posts about movie houses of Toronto—old and new

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


                 To place an order for this book: .


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