At the Ex…
As a kid, I always anticipate the end of August! No, not because the “summer” was coming to an end, but because the “EX” was about to begin! Throughout my childhood and later life, CNE always held an attraction to me. When I was a little boy my parents took me with them to visit the fun that the Canadian National Exhibition brought to the residents of Toronto. Now it is an internationally celebrated adventure, bringing thousands to the “BIG SMOKE” (Toronto). I have many great memories of the EX and in this issue of the INSIDER, Judi and I want to give you some of our memories!
Mother and Me!
My mother loved to play BINGO at the EX and she would quite often take me, even when I was a little boy. I can remember the excitement I felt when we entered the BINGO tent. The caller would yell out “Under the B, 5… under the N, 44 and so on, until someone shouted out “BINGO”! Mother always played a number of cards and would give one to me to play. We would spend an hour or two playing and then she would take me to the Midway for the rides! I loved to ride the “Bumper Cars”! I would climb into the car with Mom, I would steer while she accelerated and braked! We would crash into the other cars whenever possible and tried to avoid being hit! I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, mother or me! Sometime my father would join us, especially if we went in the evening. My father, an insurance agent, had a number of customers who exhibited in the “Food Building”, so that was one of the buildings we always visited. Back then a lot of the food and drinks were given out for free. The “Tiny Tim” donuts were the best!
Rides and Trains!
When I was old enough, I went to the EX with my friend, Rich. We always had a great time! We tried to outdo one another with the type of rides we’d get on, the scarier, the better. I loved to go on the “Round-Up” that whirled around, tilted and then dropped its floor! Rich liked the big old “Roller Coaster”! Of course, we both liked to crash into one another with the “Bumper Cars”! Many times we’d jump on the back of the “People Mover” trains and scrabbled off before the conductors could catch us. The “Food Building” was another place we loved to visit… so much food, so little time! At the end of the day, very tired, we’d catch the “Express Bus” back to our home.
Working at the EX!
As I mentioned, my father had a number of customers who had businesses at the EX. One of his customers operated a number of games and concession stands. One of his games was the famous “You Ring One, You Win One”. I can remember always passing the game to hear the barker call that out, “You Ring One, You Win One”. The object was to throw a small ring over the top of a Coke bottle. I tried, but never won. Another of his EX concessions were two “Souvenir Hat” booths. This is where I worked for three summers. In the booth we’d have hundreds of felt hats. My partner and I, another Gary, use to call out, “Souvenir Hats, you get your name on free”! Once a hat had been purchased, we would write the customer’s name on the hat in glue and then sprinkle it with glitter! The kids loved the hats! On the first day of my last year selling hats at the EX, I was running for the Exhibition Bus. As I was running across a field to get to the bus on time, I tripped in a “Goffer” hole, and sprained my ankle quite badly. However, I wanted the money I’d make at the EX, so I hobbled onto the bus and made my way to the booth. By the time I reached it, my ankle had swollen to the size of a melon. Even though I was in a lot of pain, I stuck it out for the three weeks and collected my wages. Back then I was paid more per week for working at the EX than I was paid for working at my Dad’s insurance agency! I had a lot of fun working at the “Souvenir Hat Booth”, but it was hard, long work! The “Food Building” still played a big factor, lunch and dinner were always close by!
Anniversaries at the EX!
Judi’s and my wedding anniversary is on August 26th. Quite often we try to visit the EX on our anniversary. I think that it always brings back great memories for both of us. We tried to take in as much as we can, the Better Living Building, the Coliseum (now part of the Direct Energy Building) and, of course, the “Food Building”. The EX has changed a lot over the years, but always is an exciting place to visit. Many times, when my mother and father were still alive, we’d find them at the EX, playing BINGO… “A family tradition”!
Childhood Memories at the EX!
My childhood memories of going to the great Canadian National Exhibition are limited. Back in the day, it was a long “drive”, so the “New” Go-Train system, allowed my Mom, myself and my two sisters to travel to the EX! During our few years of attending, we did have some favourite memories. Mom always planned ahead, and brought frozen wash cloths to wash up the mess after our sticky treats. This included the cotton candy, candy apples and taffy. Surprisingly none of us enjoyed the “carnival or rides” … (I still get nauseated just watching the carousel). We did spend many wonderful hours exploring the “World Pavilions” getting lost in mystical worlds through music, dance, exhibits and trinkets. The flower exhibition was my Mom’s favourite. The famous “air show” was always a great treat to watch!
The Teen Years!
As a teenager, the same phenomena occurred, we just had no interest in the rides, but the "carnival games" caught our attention. At the fish pond game, getting the magnet to drop off until the “red one” caught yielding the best prize gave us lots of treasures to bring home! One, “not so fond” memory was “the winning of large glass bottles of juice” ~ how exciting! That was until we dragged those huge glass heavy bottles all day around the EX!
The Festival Nomad and Me!
The Festival Nomad and I travelled to the EX for part of our “anniversary” adventures a few times. Over the years we created new memories. "Gary" was an excellent “dart” thrower and as a result, one year we "won" many baseball "Souvenir" hard "hats". This became an annual adventure at “World Series” baseball championship time, where we got to pick our favourite hard hats and tease our “Blue Jay” fan friends by wearing the winning team baseball hard hat (unfortunately it was not a Blue Jay hat). I thought it was funny, but apparently “Blue Jay” fans didn’t take too kindly to my humour!
We both still enjoyed the “world exhibits”, bypassed the rides, and just enjoyed the many exhibits, displays and many adventures the EX has to offer. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes bring a sense of familiarity, one that only the EX has a distinct tradition of bring to visitors over the decades!
Oh Canada Eh! Game Answers…
In June, we started to play the Oh Canada Eh! Game. In July 2015, five Questions about Canada have been asked. The following are the Questions with the Answers.
- July 1st, 2015~
BONUS QUESTION: “What year did Canada become a country, what was the national day called and what act made Canada into a single country?”
ANSWER: “July 1st, 1867, Dominion Day and the British North American Act”
- July 6th, 2015~
QUESTION: “Did the Treaty of Paris, in 1763, force France to give up all its lands north of the United States?”
- July 13th, 2015~ (Grey Roots Museum [Dinosaur Exhibit], Owen Sound Question)
QUESTION: “Did Dinosaurs have fur or feathers?”
- July 20th, 2015~ (Nancy Island Historic Site, Wasaga Beach Question)
QUESTION: “What War of 1812 Re-enactment commemorates the sinking of the British Schooner HMS Nancy ?”
ANSWER: “Wasaga Under Siege”
- July 27th, 2015~ (Town of Cobourg Question)
QUESTION: “There was a Railway that went from Peterborough to Cobourg. Can you tell me when it ceased to run and why?”
ANSWER: “1861 and the bridge that crossed Rice Lake was sabotaged, causing it to collapse”
I hope that you enjoy playing the Oh Canada Eh! Game. I’m sure that you’ll knew all the answers. Remember, all of them can be found on the Internet. I’ll let you answers to all the August 2015 questions in our September 2015 INSIDER Newsletter. Below is an "outtake" from one of our Oh Canada Eh! Game vidoes! Enjoy!
Festival Nomad Report...
July… that was a busy month! I’ll try to recap it for you.
It started off with Canada Day in Thornbury. Actually it started off in Clarksburg, but ended in Thornbury. Clarksburg is just south of Thornbury, there’s no real divide between the two villages. The celebrations began in Clarksburg with a pancake breakfast and the start of the Clarksburg-Thornbury Canada Day Parade. Judi and drove to Clarksburg, ate breakfast, saw the start of the parade and then rushed to Thornbury to watch the parade come down the main street into downtown Thornbury! We had a great time watching the parade and then we went down to the harbour for an airshow. One of Thornbury business owners is also an aerobatic pilot and has a stunt plane. He gave Canada Day visitors a spectacular performance. Judi was able to takes some fantastic videos which will be posted on our website shortly. The next day we drove to Lang Pioneer Village Museum (Keene) to attend their “Lang Celebrates Confederation”. On July 3rd, we were off to Owen Sound and the Grey Bruce Museum & Archives. It was a 2 for 1, because the Grey Roots Museum included the Moreston Heritage Village. On the 4th, we visited Wasaga Beach and the Nancy Island Historic Site. It was then time for a short break, we had to prepare for our two week tour of Eastern and Northern Ontario. Our trip began on July 18th. Our destination was Prescott and the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. It was the opening night for “Comedy of Errors”. What a great performance!
We then set off for Ottawa, but first we stopped in Portland to visit our friend, Jan Bonhomme. In Ottawa we stayed at the Blue Byward Inn and enjoyed the ambience of the Byward Market. While in Ottawa we toured both the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canadian Museum of Nature. Both museums were amazing and we will be posting articles about our visit shortly. After our 2 day stay in Ottawa, we headed north.
"Canada Aviation and Space Museum ~ Ottawa"
Our destination was Sault Ste. Marie, with an overnight stay in North Bay. The scenery, along the way, was breath taking! Judi and I took so many photos and videos that it will take weeks to view and enjoy them! Take goodness for digital cameras! 25 years ago when we traveled across Western Canada, we used film. After the trip, it took a small fortune to develop the film. Judi and I have never been to Sault Ste. Marie, so we were excited for the experience. Our friend, Kathy Fisher and her son, Benn, had asked us to visit many times. This was our year. Kathy is the manager of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site and the new Heritage Discovery Centre. However, our first day in the Sault (Soo) included a visit to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. Our guides for the tour was Edie Suriano and Todd Fleet. What a great place to visit and learn about Canada’s Bushplane Heritage and History. We spent the next day with Kathy at Ermatinger Clergue. The site consists of the Heritage Discover Centre, the Old Stone House and the Clergue Blockhouse. During our visit, Benn Fisher, an enthusiastic 1812 re-enactor, and 2 other enthusiasts, Brian Trembley and Devon “Moose” Moore told us about re-enacting and demonstrated the firing of a musket. In the evening joined the “Road Scholars”, we were treated to a play about the “Group of Seven” artist, Lawren Harris in the Heritage Discovery Centre Theatre and then a traditional “Group of Seven, on the Road” dinner in the Old Stone House. On our third day in the Soo, we visited two more cultural attractions, the Art Gallery of Algoma and the Sault Ste. Marie Museum. Articles on all “4 Sault Ste. Marie Cultural Attractions” will be posted on Ontario Visited websites. In the evening we had the chance to visit the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. As you can see, we had a very busy, but enjoyable time in Sault Ste. Marie.
"Ermatinger Clergue National Hisitoric Site ~ Sault Ste. Marie"
Reluctantly, we left our friends in the “Soo” and headed back east to Killarney and the Killarney Mountain Lodge. We thought that we would spend a couple of days relaxing! Boy, that wasn’t going to happen! Instead, our first day was spent exploring the Killarney Provincial Park. If you have never been there, you should try to! Judi and I roved the beaches, taking lots of photos along the way. The scenery was awe inspiring. Our picnic lunch, provided by the Lodge, at Lake George, added to the whole experience! After visiting the Park, we decided to investigate the Killarney East Lighthouse which is located on Red Rock Point. As I walked towards the lighthouse, I thought that I had lost Judi. I had looked back, but couldn’t see Judi. I walked a little further and looked back again. This time I saw her in the distance, standing on a ledge of rocks by the water, blissfully taking photos of everything she could! As we discovered later, between the park and the lighthouse, she had taken over 2,000 photos (again, thank goodness for digital!). I think that Judi would tell that this was one of her favourite attractions to visit! Back at the Lodge in the evening we enjoy at great meal plus a “rousing” game of shuffleboard. There seems to be some “dispute” as to who won! The argument still continues! The next day we boarded a motor boat for a cruise of Georgian Bay. Unfortunately, half way through the cruise, an alarm started to go off. The captain decided to turn back and head for home (a good choice!). All the way back the alarm continued to sound. I think all my fellow traveler were glad to get back onto firm ground!
"Killarney Provincial Park ~ Killarney"
After a “restful” stay at the Killarney Mountain Lodge, we headed for Manitoulin Island and Gordon’s Park Eco Resort. What an amazing Park! Rita and Terry Gordon have spent 25 years refining the Gordon’s Park Eco adventure! The trails that wind around their 250+ acre park lead to many different discoveries ~ nature, fossils, wildlife, stargazing and their “Dark Shy Preserve”. There General Manager, Paul, took us on our own adventure through the Park. We were amazed at the Park’s diversity and at Paul’s extensive knowledge of the treasures that the Park contained! One of the real unique features that the park offered were the “Tiki Tenting” campsites!
"Gordon's Park Eco Resort ~ Manitolin Island"
Leaving Gordon’s Park, we headed for South Baymouth and the MS Chi-Cheemaun. It was time to head to the Bruce Peninsula and Tobermory! Our trip across Lake Huron, from South Baymouth to Tobermory was very interesting. Once again, our intrepid photographer, “Scoop” Judi, braved the elements (strong winds!) to take several more (100’s) amazing images! While Judi was doing her picture taking, I explored this large, 111 m (364 ft), passenger and car ferry. I did eventually join Judi at the bow of the ship for its arrival at the Tobermory docks.
The first indication that Tobermory was a very unique community was when we read the “Innkeeper’s” welcoming letter to its guests! It basically told us that “Tobermory was quaint town, far away from big city life and that we should be prepare to slow down.” She also told us that there were “no Tims in town”! She was right, we did slow down, and we had a great time exploring the town and its shops. We even tried a coffee from their coffee shop! It was great and we didn’t miss Tims at all!
After a good night’s sleep at the Blue Bay Motel (our Innkeeper’s unique motel), we were picked up by Helen Fry, Chair of the Cabot Head Lighthouse for a Bruce Peninsula adventure! Our first stop was the combined Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park Visitor Centre. Here we discovered incredible Park exhibits. Next we picked up Ina Toxopeus, one of the founders of the Friends of Cabot Head Lighthouse, at her Moeke’s Bed & Breakfast and then headed for the Cabot Head Lighthouse. The long road into the Lighthouse property runs along the shores of Georgian Bay. The Lighthouse, high on the Niagara Escarpment, overlooks the blue waters of Georgian Bay. The Lighthouse, built in 1896, acts as a beacon for ships sailing in the area. The nearby Wingfield Basin acts as a harbour of refuge for boats in distress. Both Helen and Ina and the Lighthouse Keeper, Justin, all contributed to show Judi and I the Lighthouse and the surrounding property. The continuation and maintenance of the Lighthouse is a labour of love by all involved!
"Cabot Head Lighthouse"
Our final visit was to the Tobermory Hyperbaric Chamber. This is 1 of 3 Hyperbaric Chambers located in Ontario. We were privileged to be shown the facilities by the Chamber’s Medical Director, Dr. George Harpur. Dr. Harpur outlined how the Chamber was used, not just for diving accidents but other valuable medical uses. We will be posting an article about the Tobermory Hyperbaric Chamber and our interview with Dr. Harpur.
Well, this exciting and long trip was over (4,400 km) and we were headed home! But first we stopped in the Village of Lions Head to view the magnificent rugged limestone Niagara Escarpment cliffs. Yes, “Scoop Photographer” Judi got plenty of pics! You’ll see some of them soon in our Northern Ontario Tour article.
So what’s in store for us in August? I’m not sure, but it won’t be quite as busy as July!