By Greg Clark, August 18, 1923
The Next Big Expansion of the Toronto Exhibition is To Be Eastward To Strachan Avenue Where Monumental Gates Will Front Magnificent Automotive and Electrical Buildings.
A Cleveland man wrote as follows to the National Exhibition authorities:
“Gentlemen: At our club the other day, a discussion arose on the truth of advertising and one of our party said:
“‘Why, look at the advertising of the Toronto Exhibition. They have a bird’s eye picture of what they claim to be their grounds. There isn’t such fair grounds in the world.’
“Needless to say, he had never been to the Exhibition, and I, as a regular visitor took him up on the matter, and assured him that no advertising pictures could do justice to the great size and beauty of the grounds. So I am bringing him with me this year.”
The Ex. is going to lay for that man. They are going to show him. For even one convert, out of the millions who pass through the gates of the great fair, is valuable, since his doubting will make him all the greater booster.
Strange to say, it is Torontonians who are the Exhibition board’s sorest trial. Not one of them in ten knows, for example, that the Exhibition is the largest annual world’s fair in the world. People all over the States, in England and France and Japan know it. Other nations put on as great or greater shows at long intervals, temporary and passing shows. But the people of Toronto and Ontario take the great Ex. for granted. The men behind it don’t, though.
The men who each year give chunks of their million dollar time to the successful presentation of the great fair know what this annual festival of industry means to Canada.
For forty-five years it has grown in their hands, bit by bit, piece by piece, expanding, brightening speeding up, a building added here, a boulevard added there, crowding and bulging its confines while the succeeding boards fought with city councils and councillors and prominent citizens for backing.
But they have given up the piecemeal expansion.
In the possession of the board of the Exhibition is a plan of expansion for the next fifty years. In blue prints and architects’ drawings, in statistics and tables of figures, the board has laid down before it a definite, ordered plan of expansion for the National Exhibition which enters the future one half a century, accounting for the removal of all old buildings as their day ends, working definitely to a finished institution of roads and parks and garden and buildings which no temporary world’s fair, in the wealthiest community in the world, can touch.
The plan is made. They are working to it already. The Coliseum and the Pure Food buildings, opened last year, were the first steps in the gigantic new scheme. Why they are placed as they are, why they are built in certain shapes and colors, will not be evident for many years. But they are part of a whole.
The next steps in the plan will probably be made for 1925. And they will be more spectacular and evident.
They are the extension of the Exhibition grounds, already vast enough to create doubts in strangers’ minds, a distance of 1,300 feet eastward to Strachan avenue.
The entrance via Strachan avenue or Bathurst street is at present unimpressive enough. In a couple of years, this east entrance will be the most monumental the authorities can conceive.
Beautiful stone gates, in a great ornamental wall all along the east boundary of the grounds, will open into wide boulevard stretching straight west into the heart of the grounds a distance of 1,300 feet, halting in a square in front of the Coliseum.
On the lake side of this grand boulevard will be the proposed Automotive Building to house all motor industries, from cars and trucks to the smallest accessories.
Opposite it, on the north side of the great entrance will be the Electric and Engineering building.
And surmounting this building will be one of the features of the whole Exhibition, the Hydro Tower, just one base of glorious light day and night. The tower will be one hundred and eighty feet high, built in delicate yet massive proportions, studded with myriad electric lamps of great power, with reflectors and mirrors and moving patterns, leaping up in the sky to bear witness to Canada’s power development.
These easterly expansions are the next steps in the fifty-year march the Exhibition has set itself. The board has had advice in its plan from the city departments from the harbor experts, from the Hydro officers, from every authority Interested in the Exhibition.
The Automotive Building will be of the greatest popular interest, because at present the Automobile industry is split is several places on the grounds, cars in one place trucks and accessories in another. The new building will house perhaps the finest automobile show in the world.
The building itself, of the greatest beauty, will be 476 by 386 feet in ground dimensions. It will have 51,584 square feet of space for autos, 30,024 square feet for trucks, and 18,110 for accessories. Its interior design will be suited to the display of such beautiful and substantial things as cars. Here the whole motor-mad world can congregate.
The Electric and Engineering building, surmounted by the flaming tower, will have unique features. For example, in the electric display areas, there will be no daylight. No windows will admit the feeble light of day to tamper with the exhibits of electrical devices and appliances. There will be whole departments given over to the “Electric Home,” where the use of power will be demonstrated in model kitchens and laundries and living quarters. Attached to the building will be a restaurant operated by electricity.
In the past, the Exhibition buildings have been built with perhaps just the least little emphasis on utility rather than on beauty and the festival spirit.
These new buildings, the entire plan as a whole, are conceived with special emphasis on the festival spirit. Utility is the first consideration. Beauty and the gala allure then superimposed with a cunning and hearty hand.
The use of white and light stone, grey and red, will dominate the finished product of the toil of these men behind the Exhibition.
This year’s Ex will be gala and gay and blazing enough. But it isn’t the final effort of the Exhibition.
They are looking not one year, but fifty years ahead.
Yet even now there is nothing like in all the world.
Editor’s Notes: This article by Greg and illustrated by Jim is in lead up to the Canadian National Exhibition, which was as very big deal in Toronto in their time. Both news stories and Jim’s comics emphasized this importance over the years.
The Eastern gates were not completed until 1927, and became the Princes’ Gates. The Automotive Building was not built until 1929. The Electric and Engineering building was built in 1928, but was demolished in 1972. The Hydro Tower proposed was never built.