Memories of the CNE from the 1950’s

Memories of the ‘Ex’…the 1950’s Ex.

It’s a heartfelt bit of nostalgia remembering the grand old lady of agricultural fairs and Rotzy’s heart warms a bit as he recalls his visits to the Ex when he was a kid.

We didn’t have a car until I was 12 or 13, so my annual trips to the CNE were on the train, the CNR steam engine initially and always on Labour Day weekend. We departed from the Brantford Station about 8:00 AM, arriving at Sunnyside around 11. We checked our suitcases and then entered the CNE grounds through the famous Dufferin Gates.

Lunch was a kid’s delight, a Ritz-Carlton dog (mustard only) and a large Honey Dew. We always gawked at the ‘tiny donuts’ preparation though our food intake was dedicated elsewhere. The Food Bldg!! We indulged in every ‘free food sample’ offered, from tiny paper cups of beans to soups, we never tasted at home.

Then we took the Queen East street car out to Grandpa Frank’s at Kew Beach. The ‘Ex’ was closed on Sunday back then, so we’d do the entire Boardwalk from the Rowing Club right down to Woodbine Track! And of course, we went swimming.

Back to the CNE for the Monday Parade, a grand time at the old fair. It was indescribable fund and excitement for a preteen or early teenager. Back home on the last train that evening.

I liked Shopsy’s Corned Beef out front of the Grandstand near the Fountain and those greasy midway hamburgers loaded with greasy fried onions. Absolutely delicious. ALL the buildings….Horticultural, Automotive, The Coliseum!! Queen E., The Bandshell, Ladies Fastball games, the CHUM and CKEY Booths, The Shell/Bulova Tower, the Dodgem Cars, the Merry-go-round (that went about 30mph!), the butter sculptures, and even some of the ‘freak’ shows (like The Alligator Man and Schlitzie The Monkey Boy)….and from 1950 to ’55 I saw all my fave cowboys, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autrey and Gabby Hayes, Cisco and Pancho (maybe Zorro too?) as well as MY hero Roy Rogers….galloping full speed!! on Trigger past the grandstand full of cheering kids and parents, with his wife, Dale Evans on Buttermilk, Pat Brady in Jezebel the Jeep, and Bullet the dog. I was in Heaven! Also saw Bob Hope, the RCMP Musical Ride, etc.

Let’s hope a threatened strike at this year’s Old lady fair doesn’t materialize keeping today’s kids away from THEIR dreams! At least I hope they dream of the Ex.

Click ARROWS in images to take a trip down the CNE memory lane!

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