The Bill Lynch Carnival Show-A Staple of the Martime Culture (The East Coast of Canada).

Bill Lynch Carnival show vintage poster

While working on my post for Canada’s 150th Birthday, I stumbled upon a poster advertising a Canadian Carnival show in the 1940’s (Seen in my post HERE). I had never heard of the name ‘Bill Lynch’ before and was instantly intrigued and knew I just had to know more. And like the good blogger I am, I figured that if I did not know much about Bill and his Exposition Shows then maybe many of my readers hadn’t either. So lets explore the Carnival’s history together friends!

Meet William (Bill) Lynch

Bill Lynch Carnival Show Vintage Image
Source: The Halifacts

About the Show & Bill:

  • William Lynch (Born 1905) as a young boy growing up on McNab’s Island, Nova Scotia loved the annual summer fair on Findlay’s Picnic Grounds. In fact he loved it so much that when he became a teenager he took a job racking the balls and assisting with the old merry-go-round. All the while, he yearned to be a bigger part of this magical escape (Source).
  • 1917 – Halifax has a horrific explosion which ends the summer fun and fairs as the city rebuilt and forces Bill back to regular life working in a machine shop.
  • BUT the dream is not dead and Lynch returns to McNabs Island in the spring of 1920, buying the famous merry-go-round for $800. He managed it until 1924, but people didn’t come to the island like they used to. Lynch decided to go to the people and starts to travel around to small towns in Nova Scotia (Source).
  • 1928, he adds a second ride: a Ferris wheel.
  • In 1929, Bill wins the bid for the Halifax Exhibition and invests in 3 more rides and 3 shows to boost the size of his show to fit the exhibitions request. It was a hefty purchase that paid off and Lynch was asked back for the 1930 exhibition.
  • Changing the negative perception of Carnies & giving back to the community: Bill hired hundreds of Maritimers to run the games and partnered with service groups. Made donations to charitable groups in every town his roadshow visited and told the carnies that all disabled children should ride for free (Source).
  • By the 1940’s, The Bill Lynch Carnival is the Biggest in Canada  and becomes “the search for relief from monotony from everyday living.”
  • 1956 the show is now massive, towing 27 railway cars of rides, games and performers all around the Maritimes. Lynch hired acts such as The Turtle Woman, The Tattooed Man, The Worlds Fattest Couple, and conjoined twins Ronnie and Donnie (Source).
  • After 52 years in the business, Lynch dies in 1972. The carnival has changed hands a couple of times and units of it have been sold off to different people, including Pat Hinchey, who continues to operate a rides and amusement show in Cape Breton and surrounding areas (Source).
Bill Lynch Exhibition Shows Vintage Posters
Source: Hake’s
Bill Lynch Carnival show vintage poster
Source: Hake’s

Bill Lynch Shows Carnival Posters

Bill Lynch Carnival Pass Book vintage booklet
Source: Caperpics

1941 Monkey Race.

1941 Bill Lynch Carnival Show
Source: Nova Scotia Archives. E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1941 no. 465-7a

The Famous Ferris Wheel-1941.

1941 Bill Lynch Carnival Show Canada Nova Scotia Archives
Source: Nova Scotia Archives. E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1941 no. 465-1b

And the Merry-Go-Around.

Bill Lynch Carnival merry go around 1940s Canada
Source: Nova Scotia Archives. E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1941 no. 465e

Sailors watching either a ride or a show in 1941.

Canadian sailors 1941 watching Bill Lynch Carnival show Nova Scotia Archives
Source: Nova Scotia Archives. E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1941 no. 465-2d

Advertising for a show in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Bill Lynch Carnival 1940s Saint Johns appearance
Source: The Lost Valley

High Wire Bicycle Act.

Bicycle high wire act at a Bill Lynch Show.
Source: Dalhousie University

Further Reading:

I hope you enjoyed learning about Bill Lynch and his Carnival Show. It was really fun researching this topic and learning about a piece of Canadian history dear to many hearts in the East Coast.

Liz

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