• Less
  • Normal
  • More
History
Walking Tour
Heritage Walking Tour

Approximate Distance: 5 km
Approximate Time to Complete:
Walking: 2 hours
Cycling: 1 hour
Driving: 30 minutes

Most of the grounds are paved or have sidewalks, making access possible by foot, wheelchair or vehicle.

1. Princes' Gates

The Princes' Gates, designed by the architectural firm of Chapman & Oxley, were opened in 1927 by H.R.H. Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother, Prince George. The nine pillars on either side of the centre arch of the gates represent the participating provinces of Confederation (Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949). The figure at the top of the arch, the "Goddess of Winged Victory," was sculpted by Charles McKechnie and underwent major restoration in 1987. The Princes' Gates were designated as historically significant under the Ontario Heritage Act later that same year.

2. Automotive Building

In 1929, Douglas Kertland was chosen over thirty other Toronto competitors for the honour of being named architect for this building. Kertland's design is a unique blend of Classical and Modern styles. When it was first built, the Automotive Building was used to showcase new car and truck models. During the Second World War it served as a naval facility. In recent years, the building housed a variety of trade and consumers shows, and special events. The Automotive Building was renovated in 2009 as a conference centre and renamed the Allstream Centre.

3. Officers' Quarters, Stanley Barracks

Built in 1841, Stanley Barracks was built to replace Fort York as the Toronto garrison. Stanley Barracks originally consisted of six main buildings around a parade square. Between 1951 and 1953, five of the buildings were demolished, leaving only the Officers' Quarters. The Officers' Quarters housed the Marine Museum from 1959 until 1998.

4. BMO Field

This site has been home to four Grandstands. The first was built in 1879 and replaced by a larger version in 1895. The 1895 Grandstand was destroyed by fire in 1906 and replaced in 1907. That Grandstand was destroyed by fire in 1946 and replaced in 1948. In the 1970s, a sports stadium was added to the south side of the 1948 Grandstand. The Grandstand and Stadium were demolished in 1999. Currently the site, along with the site of the former Hockey Hall of Fame/Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, is home to BMO Field, the official site of the Toronto FC Soccer Club.

5. Better Living Centre

In 1962 the Better Living Centre was built on the site of the Manufacturer's Building which had burned down in 1961. The Better Living Centre is used by a number of various shows and special events.

6. Shrine Monument

On June 12, 1930, the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine dedicated this bronze monument, the "Peace Memorial," to commemorate over 100 years of peaceful relations between Canada and the United States. In 1958, the fountain and gardens were added and the statue rededicated to the cause of peace. The statue faces the Niagara River, which forms part of the Canada-United States border.

7. Bandshell

Modeled after the Hollywood Bowl, the Bandshell was built in 1936 at a cost of $47,000. It is still known for it's acoustic excellence. Many great bands have graced the bandshell stage, including Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, Louis Armstrong, the Scots Guards and the bands of the Royal Marines.

8. Fort Rouille

Built by the French in 1750-51, Fort Rouille was used as a trading post until 1759 when the threat of English invasion forced its destruction by the retreating French. A small cairn was placed on the site in 1878 and nine years later the obelisk that now marks the spot was added. Excavated in 1984 as part of Toronto's 150th anniversary celebrations, a cement outline of the fort walls gives visitors an idea of the original size and shape of the structure.

9. Scadding Cabin

Toronto's oldest existing home was built in 1794 for John Scadding who accompanied Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe to Upper Canada in 1792. Scadding Cabin was moved to the grounds from the east bank of the Don River in 1879 by the York Pioneer and Historical Society, which is still responsible for its operation. The move was part of the celebrations marking the inauguration of the Toronto Industrial Exhibition (forerunner of the CNE). In 1986, the cabin was designated as historically significant under the Ontario Heritage Act. Scadding Cabin is open to the public during special events (in the summer months).

10. Wind Turbine

Erected in 2002, the Wind Turbine was a joint project between Windshare Cooperative and Toronto Hydro Energy Services. The $1.4 million dollar Wind Turbine stands 95 meters above the eastern shore of the grounds and produces 1,800-megawatt hours of energy per year, enough electricity to power 250 homes. It is the first urban wind turbine in North America providing green electricity sources that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

11. Liberty Grand

This unique, three-sided structure was built in 1926 to house the exhibits of the Ontario Government during each CNE. Constructed in the Beaux-Arts style by the architectural firm of Chapman & Oxley, Liberty Grand (formerly the Ontario Government Building) marks the entrance to the grounds from the Dominion Gate of Exhibition Place. In 1986, the Ontario Government Building was designated as historically significant under the Ontario Heritage Act.

12. Medieval Times

Originally named the Government Building and later the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies Building, the Medieval Times Building was constructed in 1912 to showcase the exhibits of local and foreign governments. The Medieval Times Building was designed by George W. Gouinlock and bears a strong resemblance to the Horticulture Building.

13. Dufferin Gate

This gateway to the Exhibition has been rebuilt three times (1895, 1910, and 1959). Before the Princes' Gates were built, the Dufferin Gate served as the main entrance to the grounds. In 1959, construction of the Gardiner Expressway necessitated the demolition of the 1910 gate, which was replaced with the present archway.

14. Horticulture Building

The Horticulture Building, designed by George W. Gouinlock, was constructed in 1907 to replace the Crystal Palace, which had burned to the ground in 1906. Until recently, the Horticulture Building was used for agricultural, horticultural and floricultural displays. It is currently leased to Muzik Clubs Inc. The steel and glass dome on this building bears a strong resemblance to that of the nearby Medieval Times Building.

15. Princess Margaret Fountain

The Gooderham Fountain graced this site from 1911, and was a well-known landmark and meeting place on the grounds. It was named after George H. Gooderham, President of the CNE Association from 1909 to 1911. H.R.H. The Princess Margaret officially opened the current fountain in 1958, which remains a focal point of the western end of the grounds.

16. Press Building

This structure was originally named the Administrative Building and housed the offices of the CNE Association from 1905 to 1957. These offices moved to the Queen Elizabeth Building in 1957 and the Press Building became the headquarters for the media during the annual CNE. Currently, the building is again home to staff of the CNE.

17. G.W. Gouinlock Commemorative Plaque

This plaque, dedicated in 1991, commemorates five of the buildings designed by G.W. Gouinlock (Horticulture, Medieval Times, Press, Music and Fire Hall /Police Station). The structures are recognized as significant examples of early exhibition architecture.

18. Queen Elizabeth Building

This structure was to have been called the Women's Building but the name was changed to honor H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. Since the building opened in 1957, it has been used to house administrative offices up until 2014. The structure also houses the Queen Elizabeth Exhibit Hall and Theatre. The Exhibit Hall is available for use throughout the year while the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the FountainBlu are currently leased.

19. Music Building

Originally named the Railways Building, this structure showcased displays mounted by Grand Trunk, Canadian Northern and Canadian Pacific Railways. It was designed in 1907 by George W. Gouinlock, a Toronto architect. In 1968, the building was used for music competitions and soon became known as the Music Building. In 1985, the building was designated as historically significant under the Ontario Heritage Act. A major fire in 1987 gutted the building, but it's exterior has since been restored to its original condition. The Music Building is currently leased to Toronto Fashion Incubator.

20. Fire Hall and Police Station

Designed in 1912 by G.W. Gouinlock, this structure houses a detachment of the Toronto Fire Department during the annual CNE. Toronto Police also inhabited the building during the CNE, but since 1992 the police have had a unit stationed in the building on a year-round basis.

21. Food Products Building

The original Food Building was constructed in 1921 and was part of a proposed fifty-year plan to re-develop the physical layout of the grounds. Once opened, the Food Building brought the majority of food exhibits together under one roof for the first time. By 1954, an expansion was necessary and the present day structure, the Food Products Building, was constructed on the same site.

22. Horse Palace

When built in 1931, the Horse Palace was billed as one of the finest equestrian facilities in Canada. The Art Deco style of this building makes it visually appealing, with it's copper cupola and the figures of horses rendered in the masonry on the exterior of the structure. From 1942-1946, the Horse Palace served as a barracks for Canadian Army recruits. Today, the Horse Palace is home to the Toronto Police Mounted Unit, Exhibition Riding Academy and Toronto Animal Services.

23. Ricoh Coliseum

Construction of the Coliseum was a joint effort between the CNE and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. When the first phase of construction was completed in 1922, the Coliseum was billed as the largest structure of its kind in North America. During the years 1942-1946, the CNE grounds were closed to the public and the Coliseum was known as #1 Manning Depot, housing recruits for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

In 2003, after extensive renovations funded by the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place and the City of Toronto, the new Ricoh Coliseum reopened as part of Enercare Centre. The Ricoh Coliseum and its arena are now host to numerous shows & events, concerts, hockey games and special events throughout the year.

24. Enercare Centre

Opened in 1997, the Enercare Centre (formerly the National Trade Centre) is the largest trade show facility in Canada and the sixth largest in North America. Offering extraordinary flexibility, the facility's 1 million square feet can be subdivided into 10 exhibit halls. The facility also boasts 24 meeting rooms, a 100 seat presentation theatre and a 10,000 seat arena.

25. General Services Building

Originally built by Ontario Hydro ca. 1912, this building is now home to the offices of the Operations Division of Exhibition Place and of Records and Archives. The Records & Archives is open to the public Monday through Friday and welcomes visitors by appointment only. To arrange a visit, please call (416) 263-3658.