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, bicycle, 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. Beanfield Centre
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. In 2009, the Automotive Building underwent major renovations and is now a state-of-the-art conference centre renamed Beanfield Centre.
3. Hotel X
Opened in 2018, Hotel X provides Toronto visitors with a cutting edge mix of hospitality, sporting and entertainment options. Set amidst lavish gardens and with spectacular lake and city views, Hotel X contains 406 guest rooms and suites, restaurants, a cinematech, retail shopping and a rooftop pool and bar area.
4. 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. In 2018, it will be integrated with Hotel X.
5. 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, is home to BMO Field, Canada's first soccer-specific stadum and official home of the Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Fort Rouillé
Built by the French in 1750-51, Fort Rouillé 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.
10. 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).
11. Wind Turbine
Erected in 2002, the Wind Turbine was a joint project between Windshare Cooperative and Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc.. 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.
12. 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. The interior was renovated in 2002 by the Liberty Grand Entertainment Group and features three impressive, grand ballrooms.
13. Medieval Times
Originally named the Government Building and later the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies Building, this structure was constructed in 1912 to showcase the exhibits of local and foreign governments. The building was designed by George W. Gouinlock and bears a strong resemblance to the Horticulture Building. Since1993, it has been home to Medieval Times, a dinner theatre featuring medieval jousting.
14. OVO Athletic Centre
Opened in January 2016, this two-story, 68,000 square-foot facility provides the Toronto Raptors with a state-of-the-art basketball training centre boasting two regulation-sized NBA courts, a large medical area, a full hydrotherapy zone, and an athletic training room.
15. Dufferin Gate
This gateway to Exhibition Place 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 current parabolic arch.
16. Toronto Event Centre
Originally named the Horticulture Building, this structure was designed by George W. Gouinlock, and built 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 Toronto Event Centre. The steel and glass dome on this building bears a strong resemblance to that of the nearby Medieval Times Building.
17. 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.
18. 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 the CNE Association.
19. 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.
20. Music Building
Originally named the Railways Building, this structure showcased displays presented by the Grand Trunk, Canadian Northern and Canadian Pacific Railways. It was designed in 1907 by George W. Gouinlock. 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.