Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heritage: Exhibition Grounds

Tour guide Steve Collie demonstrated how a microphone was not required on the bandshell stage at the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds in Toronto, Ontario on 28-July-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Last night there was a rare weekday Heritage Toronto walk. When I intended to leave to walk there, a thunder squall went through. By the time it cleared, I barely had time left to make it to the walk, and it seemed that many other people were actually discouraged by the weather, as there were practically more volunteers on hand than visitors. Yet, by the time the introductory speeches were finished, the rain had stopped completely, and within minutes the sun would come out. It turned out to be a very nice night for a twilight walk.

Steve Collie spoke about the Scadding Cabin, the oldest building in Toronto built in 1794 and moved to its present location in 1879, seen 28-July-2010

The Canadian National Exhibition grounds have a lot of history in their own right, from the location of Fort Rouillé, the French fur trading post from the 1750's whose outline is highlighted, to a battle in the war of 1812. History has also been transplanted there, most prominently the Scadding Cabin, the oldest building in Toronto, which was moved to the exhibition grounds for the first fair in 1879 and remains to this day.

The architectural elements from demolished sports buildings had been incorporated into Bimo Field, as pointed out during the Heritage Toronto tour on 28-July-2010

Yet, most of the heritage that people care about comes down to the buildings, including the surviving George Wallace Gouinlock structures in the Beaux Arts style from the early 1900's, to structures designed by Chapman and Oxley in the 1920's. Even some of the demolished buildings live on, with the murals and architectural features re-created in the Bimo Field entrance and stone re-used as benches.

Even the Bailey Bridge over Lake Shore Boulevard, observed 28-July-2010, had a historical connection discussed in the Heritage Toronto walk

The joy of Heritage Toronto walks is the set of random things that are difficult to learn elsewhere. On this night, I was surprised to learn that the Bailey Bridge over Lake Shore Boulevard had been donated in 1945 immediately after World War II, but it had taken seven years to decide where to put it--it was then installed in about 90 minutes in 1952. I hadn't heard that the flagpole (the latest version only recently removed) had been struck by lightning in 1930 and a time capsule ended up being opened just months after its placement.

The sun had set by the time the Heritage Toronto tour reached the 1929-era Automotive Building (now the Allstream Centre) on 28-July-2010

While most Heritage Toronto walks can go over time easily, this one had a natural closing time enforced by the sunset. By the time we reached the Princes' Gates, the sun had gone down and it was time to wrap up a rather unique tour put on by the Exhibition Place Archives.

No comments: