National Exhibition (CNE) is an annual
event held at Exhibition Place in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada. The CNE grew out of an
annual late summer fair at a time when
Toronto was the centre of a farming community.
It is now the oldest and largest annual
fair in the world. Prior to the CNE, a
major agricultural fair was held in a
different city every year in the province
of Ontario. In 1878, Toronto hosted the
fair, and it was a major success with
over 100,000 visitors. Based on the success,
local politicians and business groups
lobbied for a permanent summer fair to
be held yearly in Toronto. This was fought
by other Ontario communities that feared
the loss of business from having to compete
with a major fair. The traveling fair
allowed rural communities to get exposure
that they would not normally have had.
Toronto operators won and the first 'permanent'
fair was held in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial
Exhibition at what is now the Exhibition
Place grounds. The current grounds covers
a total of 260 acres (1 km²) of land
facing Lake Ontario, in the west end of
Toronto. The CNE was not held between
1942 and 1946, when the land and its facilities
were turned over to the Department of
National Defense as a training ground.
After World War II, it was used as a demobilization
centre. Over the years the CNE has changed
extensively to meet the needs of the growing
and changing demographics of Toronto and
Southern Ontario. The CNE resumed in 1947,
the Canadian military returning the grounds
back to its civilian administrators. The
tone of the CNE started to turn away from
a provincial, agricultural focus, and
moved more towards a distinctly modern,
cosmopolitan look and feel.