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


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, who later was granted the title Duke of Kent. 


                      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. 

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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.

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Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)


Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine:…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book:

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21


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