Administration/Press Building – The Beaux-Arts Gem at Exhibition Place

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Between 1906 and 1909 - The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at 210 Princes' Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto
Between 1906 and 1909 – The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at 210 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto (CNE Archives)

The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at 210 Princes’ Blvd (and Manitoba Dr) at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

One of the First Permanent Exhibition Buildings

In 1903, Exhibition officials and City Council discussed adding new buildings to advance Canada’s great fair. One such building was the Industrial Exhibition Association offices, or what we know today as the Administration/Press Building. The cost was estimated at $25,000, with the city contributing $19,000 and the remainder by the Exhibition.

Built in 1904, architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the Beaux-Arts-style building. The jewel is positioned at the top of what was known as the “Grand Plaza,” which had the former Gooderham Fountain as the centrepiece. The Administration Building was an early permanent structure and was considered an encouraging sign of the Exhibition’s progress, stability, elegance, and promise.

Its Elaborate Architecture

2020 – The grand main entrance to the Press Building at 210 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto
2020 – The grand main entrance to the Press Building at 210 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto

The two-storey, rectangular building is clad with yellow brick. It features classical with highly decorative and delightfully theatrical Baroque elements. A few architectural highlights include a portico entrance with a balcony, an imitation rusticated appearance, window openings of various shapes (flat, arched and round), oversized keystones, elaborate metalwork, and a semi-circular pediment featuring an ornate clock topped with a flagpole. The building’s cornices, mouldings, and pediments are all painted metal.

Inside, the front half of the first floor initially featured public areas with reception counters. The rear portion contained offices for the President, Manager, and Treasury department, a board room, and a post office. The second floor served as a banquet hall with a kitchen, offices and more.

When the 1904 Exhibition opened, the interior of the Administration Building was not quite finished. While Fair officers had moved into the building and business was conducted, painters and plasterers were still busy at work inside. Shortly into the Exhibition, the grand building was ready to welcome the public and was visited by thousands in its inaugural year.

The final cost of construction was just over $30,000.

By the mid-1940s, the building’s south-facing entrance needed repair. The portico was removed and replaced with a flat, semi-circular canopy.

The Press Building

August 25, 1974 - View of the front of the Press Building during the CNE. Notice the canopy leading to the entrance says "George Brown College"
August 25, 1974 – View of the front of the Press Building during the CNE. Notice the canopy leading to the entrance says “George Brown College” (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 95, Item 39)

In 1957, the CNE Association moved their offices into the newly built Queen Elizabeth Building. The Administration Building was renamed the Press Building when it became the media headquarters during the annual CNE. Communications regarding Canadian National Exhibition events and activities were sent by telephone and via teletype to newspapers and press services nationwide. What is teletype? It’s a communications device that allows an operator to send and receive a text message using a keyboard and printed paper output.

Open during the annual fair, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame/Hockey Hall of Fame relocated from Stanley Barracks to the Press Building in 1957 and remained there until 1960.

The building has played host to many notable guests, including royalty, celebrities and government officials.

In 1985, the entrance canopy was replaced, and a portico similar to the original once again adorned the grand structure. After a renovation completed in 1991, CNE staff returned to the building the following year; however, it continued to be called the Press Building.

In 2022, the “PRESS” sign was removed to uncover the “ADMINISTRATION” nameplate.

Did You Know?

2022 - Muskoka chairs on the front lawn of the Administration Building during the Canadian National Exhibition. The Beaux-Arts-style gem is positioned at the top of what was once known as the “Grand Plaza of Exhibition City”
2022 – Muskoka chairs on the front lawn of the Administration Building during the Canadian National Exhibition
  • A CIBC branch was located in the southwest corner of the building from approximately 1910 until the early 1960s. It’s thought that the branch was only open during the CNE.
  • During World War II, the Administration Building was used by the military.
  • The building received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1973.
  • Only five remain today out of over 20 early Exhibition buildings designed by George Wallace Gouinlock between 1902 and 1917. They include the Administrative, Music, Horticulture and Government (Medieval Times) buildings, along with the Fire Hall/Police Station. They represented the country’s finest and most extensive group of early 20th-century exhibition buildings and were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988.
  • The Administration Building is the oldest structure on the grounds, built specifically for the Exhibition.
  • To the west of the Administration Building is the Horticulture Building, to its east is the Queen Elizabeth Building, and in front is the Princess Margaret Fountain.
  • The vibrant “Unity Pole” in front of the Administration Building was designed by Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang. The 8.5 m or 28 ft totem pole is made from a white cedar tree; carved into it are animals and symbols representing unity, emotion and strength. It was first unveiled in Heritage Court during the 2017 CNE and later found a permanent location in front of the Administration/Press Building.

Administration Building  Photos

Between 1906 and 1909 - The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at 210 Princes' Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto
Between 1906 and 1909 – The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at 210 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto (CNE Archives)
2022 - Looking north towards the Administration/Press Building at Toronto's Exhibition Place. Built in 1904, the Beaux-Arts style building was designed by architect George Wallace Gouinlock. The old "ADMINISTRATION" sign (below the clock) was behind the former "PRESS" sign and was uncovered in 2022
2022 – Looking north towards the Administration/Press Building at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Built in 1904, the Beaux-Arts style building was designed by architect George Wallace Gouinlock. The old “ADMINISTRATION” sign (below the clock) was behind the former “PRESS” sign and was uncovered in 2022
1911 – Looking west on the “Grand Plaza of Exhibition City,” where Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr intersect today. The Horticulture Building is on the left, the covered Gooderham Fountain is in the centre, and the Administration Building is on the right
1911 – Looking west on the “Grand Plaza of Exhibition City,” where Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr intersect today. The Horticulture Building is on the left, the covered Gooderham Fountain is in the centre, and the Administration Building is on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 942)
Circa 1912 - Looking northeast towards the Administration Building from Princes' Blvd at Exhibition Place. Built in 1904, it was one of the first permanent Exhibition buildings and received heritage status from the city in 1973
Circa 1912 – Looking northeast towards the Administration Building from Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place. Built in 1904, it was one of the first permanent Exhibition buildings and received heritage status from the city in 1973 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 3019)
2022 – Looking northeast toward the Administration Building, also known as the Press Building at 210 Princes' Blvd. Notice the "Unity" totem pole by Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang in the centre of the photo
2022 – Looking northeast toward the Administration Building, also known as the Press Building at 210 Princes’ Blvd. Notice the “Unity” totem pole by Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang in the centre of the photo
1912 - Crowds watching the Duchess and Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and the first member of the Royal Family to become Governor General of Canada, leaving the Administration Building to open the Canadian National Exhibition
1912 – Crowds watching the Duchess and Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and the first member of the Royal Family to become Governor General of Canada, leaving the Administration Building to open the Canadian National Exhibition (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2000)
1919 – Prince Edward on the steps of the Administration Building during his tour of Canada. In 1936, he reigned as King Edward VIII
1919 – Prince Edward on the steps of the Administration Building during his tour of Canada. In 1936, he reigned as King Edward VIII (CNE Archives)
1924 – The plaque once at the Administrative Building now located on the west wall of the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place, reads:  

Toronto Industrial Exhibition 

This tablet is erected to perpetuate the memory of the founders of this exhibition which was first held on these grounds 1879.
Original officers 1879 
President John J. Withrow 
Vice presidents Capt. W. F. McMaster W.M Rennie 
Manager and Treasurer James McGee 
Secretary H.J. Hill 

Board of Directors 
J.J. Withrow, J, McGee, W.F. McMaster, W. Rennie, A. Smith, J. Fleming, P.G. Close, W. Christie, G. Booth, A. Mc Gregor, W.H Doel, W.B. Hamilton, G. Leslie Jr., D.C. Ridout, John Hallam, L.R. O’Brien, W.H Howland, S. Wilson, R. Barber 

This tablet was erected by the Directors of the Canadian National Exhibition, 1909 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 3413)
1924 – The plaque once at the Administrative Building now located on the west wall of the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place, reads:

Toronto Industrial Exhibition

This tablet is erected to perpetuate the memory of the founders of this exhibition which was first held on these grounds 1879.
Original officers 1879
President John J. Withrow
Vice presidents Capt. W. F. McMaster W.M Rennie
Manager and Treasurer James McGee
Secretary H.J. Hill

Board of Directors
J.J. Withrow, J, McGee, W.F. McMaster, W. Rennie, A. Smith, J. Fleming, P.G. Close, W. Christie, G. Booth, A. Mc Gregor, W.H Doel, W.B. Hamilton, G. Leslie Jr., D.C. Ridout, John Hallam, L.R. O’Brien, W.H Howland, S. Wilson, R. Barber

This tablet was erected by the Directors of the Canadian National Exhibition, 1909 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 3413)
September 4, 1928 – United States and Canadian airmen in front of the portico at the CNE Executive Offices, also known as the Administration Building at Exhibition Place. They were in the city to perform daring manoeuvres in the skies during the Canadian National Exhibition
September 4, 1928 – United States and Canadian airmen in front of the portico at the CNE Executive Offices, also known as the Administration Building at Exhibition Place. They were in the city to perform daring manoeuvres in the skies during the Canadian National Exhibition (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 14931)
1928 – The Imperial Bank of Canada ad in the CNE program. A CIBC branch was located in the southwest corner of the building from approximately 1910 until the early 1960s. It’s thought that the branch was only open during the Canadian National Exhibition
1928 – The Imperial Bank of Canada ad in the CNE program. A CIBC branch was located in the southwest corner of the building from approximately 1910 until the early 1960s. It’s thought that the branch was only open during the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE Archives)
1936 – A branch of the Imperial Bank of Canada occupied the southwest corner of the Administration/Press Building from approximately 1910 until the early 1960s. It later moved to the Queen Elizabeth Building
1936 – A branch of the Imperial Bank of Canada occupied the southwest corner of the Administration/Press Building from approximately 1910 until the early 1960s. It later moved to the Queen Elizabeth Building (CNE Archives)
2021 – Looking northeast towards the Press Building at Exhibition Place. On the first floor of the yellow brick building, every 5th row of brick is recessed to give it a rusticated appearance
2021 – Looking northeast towards the Press Building at Exhibition Place. On the first floor of the yellow brick building, every 5th row of brick is recessed to give it a rusticated appearance
1937 – The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. The building was home to the CNE Association from 1904 until 1957. It was renamed the Press Building when it became the media headquarters during The Ex. In 1992, CNE staff returned to the building
1937 – The Administration Building, also known as the Press Building, is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. The building was home to the CNE Association from 1904 until 1957. It was renamed the Press Building when it became the media headquarters during The Ex. In 1992, CNE staff returned to the building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1449)
1940s - Illustrations of King George VI of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (President of the United States) over the entrance of the Administration Building. The Union flag of the United Kingdom is flying over the building. Notice the original portico entrance had been covered and redecorated. The entrance was replaced in the mid-1940s
1940s – Illustrations of King George VI of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (President of the United States) over the entrance of the Administration Building. The Union flag of the United Kingdom is flying over the building. Notice the original portico entrance had been covered and redecorated. The entrance was replaced in the mid-1940s (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 5683)
2020 – The Press Building's sign, clock, and pediment with the Canadian flag flying above. When the "PRESS" sign was removed in 2022, the original "ADMINISTRATION" sign was uncovered
2020 – The Press Building’s sign, clock, and pediment with the Canadian flag flying above. When the “PRESS” sign was removed in 2022, the original “ADMINISTRATION” sign was uncovered
August 4, 1946 – The Administration Building at Exhibition Place. Notice the original "ADMINISTRATION" sign over the building. It was later covered by the "PRESS" sign and, in 2022, uncovered
August 4, 1946 – The Administration Building at Exhibition Place. Notice the original “ADMINISTRATION” sign over the building. It was later covered by the “PRESS” sign and, in 2022, uncovered (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 1, Item 1745)
August 24, 1946 - The Administration Building's original portico in need of repair. It was removed and replaced with a flat, semi-circular canopy; however, today, it once again has a portico similar to that of the original
August 24, 1946 – The Administration Building’s original portico in need of repair. It was removed and replaced with a flat, semi-circular canopy; however, today, it once again has a portico similar to that of the original (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 1, Item 1746)
1950 – Cars parked in front of the Administration Building on what we know today as Prlnces' Blvd and Manitoba Dr. Just a few years prior, the building's portico entrance was replaced with a canopy
1950 – Cars parked in front of the Administration Building on what we know today as Prlnces’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr. Just a few years prior, the building’s portico entrance was replaced with a canopy (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 150)
September 11, 1954 - A view of the Administration Building on the Exhibition grounds at night. Notice the original portico had been replaced by a flat, semi-circular canopy
September 11, 1954 – A view of the Administration Building on the Exhibition grounds at night. Notice the original portico had been replaced by a flat, semi-circular canopy (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 94, Item 5)
2022 - Muskoka chairs on the front lawn of the Administration Building during the Canadian National Exhibition. The Beaux-Arts-style gem is positioned at the top of what was once known as the “Grand Plaza of Exhibition City”
2022 – Muskoka chairs on the front lawn of the Administration Building during the Canadian National Exhibition. The Beaux-Arts-style gem is positioned at the top of what was once known as the “Grand Plaza of Exhibition City”
1956 - Bill HarrisPresident of the CNE Association, looks on as Lester B Pearson signs the CNE's guest book in the Administration Building at Exhibition Place. At the time, Mr Pearson was the Minister of External Affairs. He went on to serve as Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968
1956 – Bill Harris, President of the CNE Association, looks on as Lester B Pearson signs the CNE’s guest book in the Administration Building at Exhibition Place. At the time, Mr Pearson was the Minister of External Affairs. He went on to serve as Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3962)
1956 - From left to right, Lester B Pearson (Minister of External Affairs and later the Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968), Bill Harris (President of the CNE Association), Maryon Pearson and Mrs Harris outside the Administration Building
1956 – From left to right, Lester B Pearson (Minister of External Affairs and later the Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968), Bill Harris (President of the CNE Association), Maryon Pearson and Mrs Harris outside the Administration Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3962)
Circa 1960 - Canada's Sports Hall of Fame/Hockey Hall of Fame was located in the Administration/Press Building from 1957 until the early 1960s
Circa 1960 – Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame/Hockey Hall of Fame was located in the Administration/Press Building from 1957 until the early 1960s (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1968 - Actor and comedian Jerry Lewis at a press conference in the Press Building at Exhibition Place
1968 – Actor and comedian Jerry Lewis at a press conference in the Press Building at Exhibition Place (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3393)
August 25, 1974 - View of the front of the Press Building during the CNE. Notice the canopy leading to the entrance says "George Brown College." At the time, the first floor of the building was being used for exhibit purposes, while the upper floor was for the Press
August 25, 1974 – View of the front of the Press Building during the CNE. Notice the canopy leading to the entrance says “George Brown College.” At the time, the first floor of the building was being used for exhibit purposes, while the upper floor was for the Press (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 95, Item 39)
Between 1985 and 1987 – Looking north towards the Press Building, originally the Administration Building, located at Exhibition Place. Today it's once again the Administration Building
Between 1985 and 1987 – Looking north towards the Press Building, originally the Administration Building, located at Exhibition Place. Today it’s once again the Administration Building (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 363, Item 15)
Between 1985 and 1987 – Looking towards the entrance of the Press Building, originally the Administrative Building. In 1985, the canopy was replaced with a portico that looked similar to the original 1904-built entrance
Between 1985 and 1987 – Looking towards the entrance of the Press Building, originally the Administrative Building. In 1985, the canopy was replaced with a portico that looked similar to the original 1904-built entrance (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 363, Item 16)
2020 – Looking north towards the main entrance of the Press Building
2020 – Looking north towards the main entrance of the Press Building
2020 – Looking northwest towards the beautiful Press Building, originally the Administrative Building, at Exhibition Place. The two-storey rectangular building is approximately 7,000 sq ft per floor
2020 – Looking northwest towards the beautiful Press Building, originally the Administrative Building, at Exhibition Place. The two-storey rectangular building is approximately 7,000 sq ft per floor
2020 – The grand main entrance to the Press Building at 210 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto
2020 – The grand main entrance to the Press Building at 210 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place in Toronto
2021 – Looking north towards the Press Building at 210 Princes' Blvd. The Beaux-Arts-style building features classical with highly decorative and delightfully theatrical Baroque elements. Notice the building is still displaying the "PRESS" sign. The "ADMINISTRATION" sign was uncovered the following year
2021 – Looking north towards the Press Building at 210 Princes’ Blvd. The Beaux-Arts-style building features classical with highly decorative and delightfully theatrical Baroque elements. Notice the building is still displaying the “PRESS” sign. The “ADMINISTRATION” sign was uncovered the following year
2022 – Looking northwest towards the vibrant "Unity Pole" in front of the Administration Building during The Ex. The 8.5 m or 28 ft totem pole was designed by Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang. Animals and symbols representing unity, emotion and strength are carved into the totem pole made from a white cedar tree. It was first unveiled in Heritage Court during the 2017 CNE and later found a permanent location in front of the Administration Building
2022 – Looking northwest towards the vibrant “Unity Pole” in front of the Administration Building during The Ex. The 8.5 m or 28 ft totem pole was designed by Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang. Animals and symbols representing unity, emotion and strength are carved into the totem pole made from a white cedar tree. It was first unveiled in Heritage Court during the 2017 CNE and later found a permanent location in front of the Administration Building
2022 – The CNE sign in front of the Administration Building during the CNE. Notice the totem pole on the left
2022 – The CNE sign in front of the Administration Building during the CNE. Notice the “Unity” totem pole on the left
2022 – The heritage plaque in front of the Administration Building reads: 

Early Exhibition Buildings 

“These five buildings - the Press (1904), Music (1907), Horticulture (1907), Government (1912), and the Fire Hall and Police Station (1912) - are the largest and finest group of early 20th century exhibition buildings in Canada. Designed by G. W. Gouinlock, they reflect the influence of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition of Chicago in their creative classical decoration and ordered integration to a site plan. The first permanent exhibition buildings in Toronto, they are an impressive reminder of the Canadian National Exhibition as the major industrial and agricultural fair of the period.” 

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada - Government of Canada
2022 – The heritage plaque in front of the Administration Building reads:

Early Exhibition Buildings

“These five buildings – the Press (1904), Music (1907), Horticulture (1907), Government (1912), and the Fire Hall and Police Station (1912) – are the largest and finest group of early 20th century exhibition buildings in Canada. Designed by G. W. Gouinlock, they reflect the influence of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition of Chicago in their creative classical decoration and ordered integration to a site plan. The first permanent exhibition buildings in Toronto, they are an impressive reminder of the Canadian National Exhibition as the major industrial and agricultural fair of the period.”

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada – Government of Canada
2022 - Steps leading to the main entrance of the Administration Building at Exhibition Place in Toronto
2022 – Steps leading to the main entrance of the Administration Building at Exhibition Place in Toronto
2022 – Looking towards the south facade of the Administration Building during the CNE. Built in 1904 for the offices of the Industrial Exhibition Association, it initially housed a public reception area and counters, offices, a post office, a board room, a banquet hall, a kitchen and mor
2022 – Looking towards the south facade of the Administration Building during the CNE. Built in 1904 for the offices of the Industrial Exhibition Association, it initially housed a public reception area and counters, offices, a post office, a board room, a banquet hall, a kitchen and more
2022 - The "ADMINISTRATION" sign was uncovered in 2022 when the "PRESS" sign was removed. The semi-circular pediment on the Administration Building features a decorative clock, is flanked by finials and is topped with a flagpole flying the Canadian flag
2022 – The “ADMINISTRATION” sign was uncovered in 2022 when the “PRESS” sign was removed. The semi-circular pediment on the Administration Building features a decorative clock, is flanked by finials and is topped with a flagpole flying the Canadian flag
2022 – Looking northeast towards the Administration Building with the Music Building in the background and the Queen Elizabeth Building on the right
2022 – Looking northeast towards the Administration Building with the Music Building in the background and the Queen Elizabeth Building on the right
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Administration Building from Manitoba Dr during the CNE. On both the west and east sides of the building, the pediment has a curved top with a secondary triangular pediment above, topped with a flagpole
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Administration Building from Manitoba Dr during the CNE. On both the west and east sides of the building, the pediment has a curved top with a secondary triangular pediment above, topped with a flagpole
2023 – Looking north from Princes' Blvd and Manitoba Dr towards the Administration Building. The building's cornices, mouldings and pediments are all white-painted metal
2023 – Looking north from Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr towards the Administration Building. The building’s cornices, mouldings and pediments are all white-painted metal
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