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Thoughts about Toronto’s 2014 CNE

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The Zip Line at the 2014 CNE, in the background the Food Building and the BMO Stadium.

Attending the CNE is an end-of-summer ritual for many Torontonians. Some consider summer incomplete without at least one trip to the Ex. Although the CNE may have diminished in size and lost some of its lustre through the passing years, it will still attract over a million visitors in its 19-day run in 2014. It remains the largest annual fair in Canada. When it closes after Labour Day, similar to New Year’s Eve, we become aware that another milestone in time has passed.

Those of us who are older remember when the Ex introduced Canadians the latest technological advancements, featured the most up-to-date household appliances, and showcased the next year’s automobile models. Its grandstand shows attracted the biggest names in show business and the bandshell offered performances by brass bands from Britain and military bands from the United States. The horse show was also a highlight, as were the cattle and hog judging. In the Warriors’ Day Parades, thousands of veterans marched, their medals reflecting the late-summer sun.

The free samples in the Pure Food Building were welcomed treats. I particularly recall the small cups of various flavours of Campbell’s Soup, V-8 juice and different brands of breakfast cereals. However, they were never sufficient to make a meal, as many have claimed. I also remember buying a bag of chocolate bars, all for the price of one dollar. As great as the Ex was in those year, like last year New Year’s Eves, it has disappeared into time. However, I now realize that the greatest thing about the Ex in decades past was the fact that I was young. In our youth, everything was better and bigger, even if in reality it was not.

I sometimes feel that the Ex began its decline after the Manufacturers Building was gutted by fire and never replaced. During the next few years, the Flyer (rollercoaster) and the CNE Grandstand also vanished. Today, the Horticultural, Arts and Crafts, and Ontario Government Buildings are no longer part of the annual Exhibition. However, I was pleased to discover that this year (2014) people were again able to access the grounds via the Dufferin Gates. When returning on the streetcar from my trip to the Ex this year, I heard a woman declare on her cellphone to someone, “The Ex is mainly one big effort to sell you something.” There is much truth to this statement, but there is another side to the Ex that remains as glorious as former decades.

It remains a place where children and young people create memories that in the the years ahead they will refer to as “the good old days.” They have no recollections of the way the Ex used to be, so accept it for what it is and revel in the experience. In future years, they too will exaggerate the virtues of the Ex of 2014. In some respects, they will be correct. The assortment of rides is even better than in former years, even though there is no rollercoaster. This year there is the “Zip Line,” where a person signs a liability waver, pays $20, and zips from one end of the Ex to the other on a high-wire like a circus performer. As well, the gut-wrenching foods are as gut-wrenching as ever and the Tiny Tim Donuts as plentiful as they were in years past. I also noticed at the 2014 Ex the large number of immigrants experiencing the fair for the first time, seeing it through new eyes. I envied their sense of amazement and delight.

The CNE grounds are immaculately maintained and the landscaping is excellent. The flower beds and planters are a sight to behold, and the plantings around the Princess Margaret Fountain are wonderful, even though I admit that I miss the old Gooderham Fountain that was demolished in 1958. Walking the grounds is relaxing and pleasurable. The butter sculptures in the Better Living Centre are as fascinating as ever, even though they no longer portray Borden’s Elsie the cow. The sand sculptures are also skilfully executed, though I must confess that I have no interest in the stalls in the Direct Energy Centre Centre that sell crafts and products from all over the world, most of which are available in the shops in the Kensington Market or on Spadina Avenue.   

The Ex has changed. It is no longer the exhibition that I knew in my youth. I accept this, but still derive great pleasure visiting it each year, when I relive past memories and create new ones. In the latter respect, I am no different to the young who flock to the CNE each year. When I stroll the midway, I am again a teenager, even though I am an observer rather than a participant. Sadly, this now applies to more things in life than I care to mention.

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The planter boxes at the Ex, to the west of the Food Building, the view gazing west towards the old Music Building.

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       The Food Building built in 1954 to replace of former building of 1921.

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The former Music Building, originally the Railway Building, designed by George W. Gouinlock in 1907. 

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The Zip Line, a new addition to the 2014 CNE. For $20 a person can ride on a high wire from the west end of the Ex to the east end, almost to the Princes’ Gates 

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The Princess Margaret Fountain, opened in 1958, replacing the old Gooderham Fountain of 1911. 

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The Press Building, originally the Administrative Building, constructed in 1905.

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A gigantic elm tree, a survivor from the old days of the Ex, and two Muskoka chairs where a person can relax in the shade.

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                  The children’s merry-go-round in the Kiddie Rides

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                 The butter sculptures in the Better Living Centre

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The CNE Midway in 2014. This scene might be from the 1950s or 1960s, as little has changed. 

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                     The sand sculptures in the Direct Energy Centre

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             View of the Midway looking west, the Sky Ride in the background.

To view Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For links to previous posts about the CNE throughout the years

The Princes’ Gates at the CNE

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-princess-gates/

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/the-wild-side-of-the-cnes-when-the-flyer-was-king/

Going wild at the 2013 CNE.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/going-wild-at-the-2013s-cne/

Memories of the CNE of yesteryears.

tps://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/memories-of-the-cnetoday-and-yesterday/

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/the-fountain-at-the-cne/

Ten suggestions to improve the CNE

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/ten-suggestion-to-make-the-cne-great/

Attending the 2011 Ex.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/whats-it-like-to-attend-the-cne-in-2011-in-comparison-with-yesteryear/

Memories and photos of the Grandstand shows of the 1950s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/the-magnificent-grandstand-shows-of-the-1950s/

Postcard views of the CNE from the 1940s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-one/

More postcard views of the CNE from the 1940s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-two/

The historic fountain at the CNE that has now disappeared

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/memories-of-the-cnemeet-me-at-the-fountain/

A post about the sculpture in butter of Rob Ford

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/if-rob-ford-is-a-turkey-at-least-hes-a-butterball/

Visiting the 2012 CNE

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/try-viewing-the-2012-cne-through-new-eyes/

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view links to Toronto’s Heritage Buildings

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/ 

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

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/torontos-old-movie-theatrestayloronhistory-com/

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.  

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                 To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

 

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

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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. 

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                      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.

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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.

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

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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.

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                            The Princes’ Gates, spring, 2013.

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

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

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

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                                    The Princes’ Gates, May 2013.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

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.  

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

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

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)

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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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

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