A really interesting example of city-owned mixed-use property, Exhibition Place has roots dating back to the 1700s as a trading post for French fur traders. The land originally reserved by the military became the site of large fairs in the 1800s, including the Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West.
Over the years Exhibition Place has attempted to become a year-round destination with attractions like Medieval Times, nightclubs, and business buildings, the sprawling event space most comes alive in the summer when it hosts the Canadian National Exhibition.
Fingers crossed, we can all go to the Ex this summer.
The facilities have changed over the years with the needs of the city as new arenas and venues make others outmoded. Exhibition Stadium left vacant by the Jays move to the SkyDome was razed, but BMO Field brought a spectator sports stadium back to the grounds, the Coliseum ice is home to the Toronto Marlies hockey team, and the space has been used in the Pan Am Games, and it the site for the Indy car races. While great, the roar from the car racing, and the loud booms of the air show aren’t always the most welcome sounds of summer.
Of all the permanent structures of the CNE, my favourite is the bandshell. Constructed in the 1930s, the building’s design drew inspiration from the famed Hollywood Bowl.
Among the iconic architecture is the Dufferin Gate Arch and the historic Princes’ Gates. You learn something new every day, my whole life I thought it was the Princess Gate.
The Toronto Archives is full of pictures of Exhibition Place. It’s wild to see kids splashing in fountains we know to stay out of, and to see people dressed up in suits and dresses to go to the EX!