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Agriculture and The Ex

Event started as an agricultural show

By Diego Flammini,

Until Monday, September 7th, thousands of people will make their way to downtown Toronto to experience the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)

Canadian National Exhibition

Shopping, midway games, deep-fried everything and music are all part of what attracts people to the end of summer celebration.

But did you know that the CNE, which kicked off on August 21st, started in 1879 and was designed to help develop Canadian agriculture along with industry and the arts?

The show would feature the latest advances in technology designed to help the agricultural sector, including:

  • Electric railway transportation in 1883
  • The wireless phone in the 1890s
  • Radio in 1922 and TV in 1939

Other parts of the show’s agricultural roots included horse judging, dairy buildings, honey displays and prizes for the largest gourds.

The modern versions of the CNE still include horse shows and working farms.

The show’s original title was the Toronto Industrial Exhibition and 22 of the 23 wooden buildings were dedicated to agriculture, minus the Crystal Palace. In 1906, the Crystal Palace was destroyed in a fire and the Horticultural Building was built in its place. In 1912 the fair was renamed as the Canadian National Exhibition.

An estimated 1.4 million people will visit the fair by the time it wraps up on September 7th, generating nearly $50 million for the City of Toronto and about $70 million for the Province of Ontario.

Join the conversation and tell us if you’ll visit the CNE this year. 

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