In my previous article about the Canadian National Exhibition we discussed the birth of the CNE, the oldest building on the grounds, and the use of one of the larger buildings as a temporary morgue. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the fascinating history of one of Toronto’s greatest landmarks, the Canadian National Exhibition.
Over the years, the CNE grandstand has been host to some of the greatest performers of ours, and previous generations. I am going to provide a small sample of the hundreds of performers to grace the Ex with their presence. Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Ed Sullivan, Gene Autry, Annie Oakley, Bob Hope, The Three Stooges, Robert Goulet, Mickey Mouse, The Smothers Brothers, Billy Graham, Bill Cosby, The Monkees, Wayne Newton, The Temptations, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lewis, Guess Who, The Osmonds, The Jackson Five, David Cassidy, Sonny & Cher, Tom Jones, Lawrence Welk, Liza Minelli, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, I could go on all day naming famous performances from the CNE. The point is anybody who was anybody made historic performances at the Exhibition grandstand.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Ex is the shear size of the grounds. Not including parking lots the Exhibition covers 196 acres of land. When you include the parking areas for visitors, and trailers used by the employees the grounds size swells to an impressive 260 acres.
The main gates of the CNE are called the Princes’ Gates but are often called the Princess Gates in error. The gates were built in 1927 to celebrate the 60th year of Canadian Confederation. They were originally set to be named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates”. It was then learned that the Prince of Wales, H.R.H Edward, and his brother Prince George were set to do a tour of Canada that summer. CNE officials asked the men to officially open the gates, and renamed them in honor of the princes.