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Toronto Exhibition's 1893 Program Cover

The second half of the 19th Century was an era in which technological innovation brought rapid economic progress and social change to Canada. Embracing the “spirit” of this age, the Toronto Industrial Exhibition Association was incorporated on March 11, 1879, and its first fair opened on our grounds on September 5th of that year. The event, which was renamed the Canadian National Exhibition in 1912, had quickly become a popular attraction and a boon to the local economy.

This year (2018) marks the 140th Anniversary of the Association.   It is not the 140th anniversary of the fair itself, because the CNE was closed from 1942 to 1946 (inclusive) when the grounds were transformed into a military recruitment and training centre during World War II. That didn’t stop Patty Conklin, the CNE’s midway provider at the time, from taking his rides and games north to Riverdale Park, where he staged the Fair for Britain in 1942 and 1943.

The history of the Canadian National Exhibition is a poignant reflection of the history of this country. Featuring the best that Canada had to offer in the realms of Agriculture, Industry, Technology, Fashion, Consumer Products, and Arts and Culture, it was known as “A Show Window of the Nation”.

Although the CNE has changed enormously over the years, it remains a vibrant and popular Canadian tradition that attracts more than 1.5 million people each year and generates major economic impact for both the Greater Toronto Area ($93.1 million) and the Province of Ontario ($128.3) annually.

For further information about the CNEA's history, visit: http://www.cneheritage.com

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