I was looking at some old photos of the C.N.E. and it brought back a rush of memories from when I was a kid back in the 40s and 50s. I haven’t been to the Ex in over 40 years and I doubt that I would recognize it to-day because like everything else it changes with the times. My Ex is long gone.
The first time I went to the Ex was the summer of 49 when I was six and I won some contest that asked “How many Provinces were in Canada?” Most people said nine but I said ten because Newfoundland had just become a province a few months before. I forget what the prize was. That year sticks out in my mind for it was the only time my Dad went with us. He started working in construction that fall and he was hardly ever at home for the next 41 years. He worked all over Canada and the World until he retired at 63 in 1983. In 1950 my Mom took me to the Ex to see “Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) at the Band Stand . I along with a couple of thousand other kids got to shake hands with him and got a Hoppy Pin to wear. Back then that was a big deal as Hopalong had his own western TV show. He was a good guy but wore black and rode a white horse “Topper”.
Going to the Ex back then was the highlight of the summer holidays and lots of things were free. You never bought lunch but went to the Food building and stuffed yourself on free samples. A lot of companies gave away free school supplies like book covers, pencils, ruler, and erasers, and pencil boxes. My favourite place was the Coliseum where all the farm animals were, I loved the horses especially the big draught horses like Clydesdales and Belgiums. Mom didn’t like it that much as she said it stunk and there was a lot of manoure around but to a city kid this was wonderland. I also loved going to the Armed Forces Display where there was always a tank, Army Trucks, and an Artillery piece and you could sit in the cockpit of an F86 Sabre Jet, or T33 a Shooting Star. I always liked it because I could shake hands and talk to real soldiers. Even then this was important to me as I came from a family that had always served when called.
Those days are long gone now but it is nice to have the memories of growing up in simpler times when life didn’t seem so hectic and the world moved at a far slower pace. Now at 70 I find myself at times longing for those lost days but then that is just nostalgia creeping in.