I Worked at the CNE. I Have Stories to Share.

CNEThe Canadian National Exhibition opens tomorrow. I worked at a game booth across from The Polar Express in 1989, 1990 and 1991, so I've seen some stuff.

Here are a few stories I've shared over the years about my years working at the CNE:

If you read nothing else in my 12696 entry archive, read those CNE entries. Trust me, you'll never look at a carnie the same way again.


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Comments (14 - click here to join in!)

Ryan G

Extremely ironic that you didn't mention the story about what's obviously happening in this photo.

Clearly you were about to take a piss right there and then when the guy taking the picture caught you red handed. That's pretty disgusting Mike.

August 14, 2014 @ 3:16 PM

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@Ryan G

I've been wanting to share that story for 25 years but never had the courage.

Thank you.

August 14, 2014 @ 3:17 PM

Mike from Lowville

Doggie Doggieeeeee oye oye oyeeee!

August 14, 2014 @ 5:48 PM


love the stories from your time at the ex. I've always been fascinated by both the carnys and the 'summer' carnys. (by the way there is a super documentary on carnies - actually called 'Carny' - it may even be Canadian, can't remember off the top of my head) anyhoo..... I've often wondered some pretty ridiculous stuff about being a fair worker, like....
- how does Aldo know what kind of money you made on your shift? I mean wouldn't it be easy to pocket some of the profit since a lot of it is coins?
- did you ever just take a giant prize home for your galpal or mum? hahaha
- could you get your friends into the ex for free?

I love the ex and usually make the yearly sojourn. not sure why actually - just something that must be done.

August 14, 2014 @ 6:32 PM

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Great questions.

I used to stream the documentary Carny here, but it seems TVO has pulled it from their site.

Periodically, the game booth managers would collect the cash and bring it all to the back office to be counted. Without a doubt, this process was ripe for exploitation. Lots and lots of 20 dollar bills and no real audit between what customers paid and what eventually got counted.

When we were giving away Bart Simpson dolls, I made sure my buddies won and a couple found their way home with me. I loved those in the summer of '90.

I had a friend Tim who was working the gate at the Ex, and he could get my friends and family in for free. Otherwise, I didn't have much pull there. That Tim, by the way, is the same guy who introduced me to the Sex Pistols.

August 14, 2014 @ 6:54 PM

Rick C in Oakville

Love the Ex. Heading down Saturday to watch my 88 year old WW2 vet father in the Warriors Day Parade. He use to walk it but it's better they put them in some of the vintage vehicles to do the parade route. Every year he see's the number of aquaintances not making it down, either due to illness or passing.

Then will stop by the food building and chow down on either a corn beef or pastrami on rye, and enjoy a few over priced beers.

August 14, 2014 @ 10:15 PM



One time when I was working at the EX (at Pop A Ball with TorontoMike) some kid was begging his mom to let him play cause he wanted one of those small prizes. His mom wouldn't let him and they kept walking by. I can't stand to see kids beg so when no one was looking I threw him a small prize. It probably cost 5cents to make that ugly thing. The kid looked at me so happy and without any words said "thanks, I promise I won't tell anyone". Even though I remember checking to make sure Arno wasn't around, I still prayed that he didn't see.

On an aside, I sae TorontoMike while riding my bike last week down by the lake. I took a second look cause it was one of those, "Oh, I know that guy, but can't remember where from". During my second look I realized it was Mike with his family and no, I don't really know him, so I didn't say anything. I'm writing this cause I'm curious if Mike has ever had strangers come up and say hi. Just curious. I almost said hello before realizing you have no idea who I am.

August 15, 2014 @ 12:06 AM

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Firstly, you should have said hi. I'm guessing this was during that South Humber festival last weekend.

Just this past Tuesday, while walking with my daughter at Canada's Wonderland, someone came up to me and shook my hand. He said he reads Toronto Mike and loves it but never comments. My daughter was impressed!

August 15, 2014 @ 8:50 AM


I love your carnie stories. This is my first time here. I've just returned to the blogosphere and am really enjoying meeting all the Toronto bloggers.

August 15, 2014 @ 6:57 PM


Yes, it was during the South Humber Festival. Next time I will definitely say hi. BTW, love your CNE stories. I actually re-read them each year around this time.

August 16, 2014 @ 12:31 AM


I remember Humble Howard once described the smell of the Ex as one giant form dog fart. Funny because it's so true.

August 17, 2014 @ 1:15 PM

Anne from TPL

Dear Toronto Mike:

I have really enjoyed reading the blog entries of you working at the CNE.

I have added a brief mention of your blog and added a hyperlink to mine so that more people will read and enjoy your experiences. (I hope you don't mind this little promotion.)

August 18, 2014 @ 1:57 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Anne from TPL

Always welcome!

Thanks for including me....

August 18, 2014 @ 1:59 PM

Anne from TPL

Thank you so much for your permission to include your personal take on your time at the CNE. It just adds that extra dimension as each of us weaves our own threads into this historical tapestry of what it is (and was) like growing up, living, and working in Toronto.

August 18, 2014 @ 4:51 PM

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