I have been living in Toronto now for almost 14 years and one of the events I have grown to absolutely LOVE is the CNE-Canadian National Exhibition. The CNE is basically a giant fair that runs for 18 days near the end of the summer and it’s known for its great shows, crazy food (anyone for a bacon, donut burger??), rides and all the cools things to see..bring on the Sham Wow guy! lol
The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation (Wikipedia). Apparently, prior to 1879, the fair had traveled throughout the province, but eventually settled where the crowds were after local stakeholders campaigned to make it a permanent city attraction (blogto.com).
That means that this year the CNE is celebrating its 135th season this year so I thought it would be fun if we checked out some vintage photos, advertising etc. of this historical event. So grab a bag of chocolate covered parmesan popcorn and lets take a trip down CNE memory lane…
To start, I’m doing a blog series on the wonderful book “Lets Dance. A celebration of dance halls and summer dance pavilions by Peter Young” and one of the sections briefly covers the “CNE TENT” that was erected in 1938 to bring in top-notch entertainers. Acts like: Benny Goodman with Peggy Lee, Artie Shaw, Guy Lombardo and even the Tommy Dorsey Band made their way to this tent.
In Peters book he even mentions a story how in September 8th of 1939 the Tommy Dorsey band flew to Toronto on the American Airlines flagship craft to appear at the CNE. This was the FIRST time the entire band travelled by air so they marked the occasion by playing a few tunes right at the airport (“Lets Dance..”, pg 23, Peter Young).
The image above was from 1940 and you can see the dance tent in the background where apparently Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra were performing that very night (“take a ride back in history” by Mike Filey).
Then while scouring the internet for fun images/stories to share I stumbled upon the most AMAZING FIND! Did you know that the CNE created their own high-kicking dance troupe version of the Rockettes? The Canadettes and they made annual appearances from 1951 until 1967 at the CNE. How fun!
Now for the random vintage pictures I promised you…
Two ADORABLE kids enjoying a coke break in 1959.
CNE 1940’s cooking demo.
CNE-1937. I LOVE this photo! The couple in the front that stand out in the picture are just outstanding looking.
CNE-1961. I’m enjoying eyeballing some of the great fashion in the pic 🙂
Want to learn how to take care of your baby in 1918?
I will now leave you with a picture from my engagement photo session that was done at the CNE
Photo Courtesy of David Tom Photography
If you live in Toronto and are attending the CNE or have attended the CNE I would love to hear your stories of your favorite things to do there.