The Early Years of the Exhibition
It was not named the Canadian National Exhibition until 1912, although the fair started back in 1858 with erection of a crystal palace at Shaw and King streets called The Palace of Industry. Sanford Fleming and Collingwood Schreiber based their design on The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. It was opened by the Governor-General Sir Edmund Walker Head. The Industrial Exhibition was held there yearly.
Toronto (over Ottawa) was awarded the fair for the province in 1878. The City negiotiated a lease with the federal government for a western portion of Fort York’s garrison reserve. This was the beginning of Exhibition Place. The Crystal Palace was dismantled. The ironwork was incorporated into a new bulding with additional story, raised skylight and a cupola located just east of Dufferin Street. It was re-opened by Governor-General Lord Dufferin.
Scadding Cabin, built in 1794, is Toronto's oldest building. John Scadding came over from England with Governor Simcoe to serve as secretary of the first government of Upper Canada. His cabin was built just east of the Don River on Lot 15, which stretched from the lake to present day Danforth Ave. It was moved and erected on the exhibition grounds in 1879.
The Toronto Industrial Exhibition and Horticultural Fair was established in 1879 for the purpose of fostering the development of agriculture, industry and the arts.
Patrons were introduced to electric railway transportation in 1883, Edison's phonograph in 1888, the wireless telephone in the 1890s and other technical advances of the times in The Industrial Palace.
Besides horticulture, agriculture and industry, in the early years the fair included equestrian competitions, fireworks and, of course, food.
Se and read more at: CNE: Memorabilia and Tales from the Canadian National Exhibition
See more historical images of the Canadian National Exhibition in our Digital Archive.