Canadian National Exhibition Memories

CNEThe CNE opens tomorrow, and it always brings back a ton of memories.

I worked at the CNE for three summers as a game booth attendant, from 1989-1991. That gave me a unique perspective. If you want to revisit my many Canadian National Exhibition memories, visit my CNE page where I've shared several stories from these years working the midway.

Here are some of the highlights:

You'll never look at a carnie the same way again.


If you have a Canadian National Exhibition memory you'd like to share, I'd love to read it below.

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Comments (16 - click here to join in!)


Two memories:

Going down to the CHUM 1050 Trailer and actually seeing the Dj's in real life.
It was big back then.
And seeing Chicago play the CNE in the early 70's I am thinking 72 or 73.
What a great show and sat maybe 12 rows back.

August 15, 2013 @ 9:39 AM


Like Speysidephil, it was seeing the CHUM guys at the Satellite Station.

I still have all the CHUM promo pieces they handed out back then - the CHUM jocks and newsman in the black bowler hats in Bermuda shorts, and later, a brochure with them wearing boater hats. I also got most the CHUM guys autographs.

August 15, 2013 @ 9:43 AM


The smell of Tiny Tom donuts and the Polar Express and "YOU WANNA GO FASTER?!" are the first things that comes to mind when I think of the Ex.
Gone are the days you'd come home with bags and bags of free shit that was given away. Chocolate bars, gum, toys, etc.
Also, the Ex has never been the same to me without Exhibition Stadium as a backdrop.

August 15, 2013 @ 10:24 AM

4x4 Time

"Doggie, doggie" and the big basket of Double Bubble Gum

August 15, 2013 @ 1:21 PM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

The one CNE experience that haunts me to this day was the site of a young lad dropping his trousers on the midway, and exposing what he called, and I quote, "some choice Ryan G junk". He was all of seven years old. His exasperated mother, collected the young man but not before he berated the carnies, hollering, "You're all a bunch of fuckin' slaves!" I think of this incident to this day and hope that he received the help he so desperately needed. I couldn't envision that kind of conduct, real or imagined, in this day and age. I often wonder how the lad made out as an adult. Guess I'll never know.

August 15, 2013 @ 2:09 PM



Just curious did you get and still have the autographs of Al Boliska, Jungle Jay, or Dave Johnson.
The heart of chum 1050 in their day.

August 15, 2013 @ 3:41 PM

twins from bolton

Memories Galore, especially the CHUM trailer just inside the Princess gates with DJ's doing live shows & even on certatin days a concert on the stage. I'll never forget seeing Free (All Right Now) & the Turtles (Happy Together).

The Food Bldg. was the main attraction as everywhere you could eat lunch & dinner & drink for nothing with the free samples given out. Always bought to take home, Neilson chocolate bars (5 for $1), Double Bubble, Tiny Tim donuts which were only available at the EX & Billy Bee honey.

Midway was awesome as a kid in the 60's & early 70's with saving the Toronto Star Thrill Coupons to save money for the rides. The Polar Express, the Flyer, Wild Mouse - WOW. The "freak shows" with unfortunate people were always an attraction & will never forget - Billy & Benny the worlds largest twins finishing their act with riding mini scooters in front of us - so sad.

Grandstand concerts at night were the main attraction as always promoted over speakers during the day. I saw the Beach Boys, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel (1 of the best concerts I've ever seen as played for over 3 1/2 hrs) there.

The Kochman Hell Drivers every afternoon at the Grandstand - I must have seen them at least 25 times in my lifetime.

The Shell Tower was always the place to meet in case someone got lost. Parking when going to the EX was always on someones front lawn for $2 or $3 for the day who live close on a side street.

I haven't been since 2004 when my kids played at the PeeWee Baseball tournament that year.


August 15, 2013 @ 6:14 PM


I remember my dad winning me some huge stuffed animal as a kid. That's probably my biggest memory.

Always enjoy the airshow too!

@Mike When's the next episode of Toronto Mike'd going up?

August 15, 2013 @ 8:57 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Toronto Mike'd Episode 47 records tomorrow with guest co-host Mike Muzzin, and then Rosie's back for Episode 48 early next week.

August 15, 2013 @ 10:23 PM

Rick C in Oakville

I have great memories of the CNE, and since my dad is a WW2 vet we always go down to watch him march in the parade, though now he gladly accepts the rides they offer. I will be down tomorrow to watch him again, but at 87 he is one of the younger lads, he has watched as the numbers have slowly dropped over the years.

Doggie Doggie and the Chum jocks were always great mainstays at the EX. Even went down the year Mike Cooper I believe was riding the ferris wheel to get into the Guiness book of Records.

Glad to see Muzzin back on, he is the ying to your yang in opinions!. Gives for a lively debate.

August 16, 2013 @ 1:13 PM


My First Air Show. 1967 My dad getting super sunburned and the RCAF F-86 flying pretty low and (to a 4 year old )incredibly fast!That one is incredibly clear in my mind even after all this time.

The Hell Drivers every year,My frst real concert The Beachboys,Rush with Max Webster,The Cult with Guns and Roses opening ( we all thought the sucked lol),the food building,Double bubble ,the wild mouse scaring the shit out of me . And of Course "Doggie'Doggie"

August 16, 2013 @ 1:55 PM


Just reread your Ardo stories. So funny. Everytime I hear a Meatloaf song I think of that guy who worked for Ardo that used to play that cassette over and over again.

August 17, 2013 @ 1:43 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Wasn't that Steve who played Bat Out of Hell over and over again?

That and Steve Miller's Greatest Hits, as I recall...

August 18, 2013 @ 12:29 PM

Rick C in Oakville

Went to the EX Saturday, absolutely beautiful day down by the lake. I am still a bit bummed out that Ontario Place is closed and looking a little downtrodden. Had great walks around the grounds and my son spent a summer working there. Midway and the games seemed to be busy enough by 3-4 PM, and there seemed to be some new rides this year. Also read last week that the CNE turned a profit and put a couple of million in the cities coffers, good news for those of us who would like the EX to succeed.

August 18, 2013 @ 2:26 PM

Rick C in Oakville

Just to add about the Conklin Carnies post you had made in 2004: I had a high school acquantence back in the late 70's sign on as a year round carnie, lasted 5 years before he basically burned out. Not just from the drinking and partying, but the schedule they must endure, labour laws back then did not seem to apply, as they could be up for 3 days straight, from teardown, transporting, and setting up. Not sure what he is doing now as I haven't seen him in 25 years, but I know it isn't with the carnie.

August 18, 2013 @ 2:33 PM


Lisa P's back! Lisa P's back!
Did you lose a giant ass panda on your first shift?

The Flyer is the only rollercoaster I've ever been on.

August 18, 2013 @ 7:17 PM

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