Granite Benches – Honouring Historic Places & Events at Exhibition Place

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2022 – The bench reads: The Flyer – First Season 1953 Over 39 years, 9 million passengers rode the Flyer Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2022 – The granite bench commemorating The Flyer at Exhibition Place

There are 18 granite benches commemorating historical places and sporting events at the CNE and Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Sculpted in Granite from a Lost Building

In 2007 and in celebration of the opening of BMO Field soccer stadium, Exhibition Place commissioned Toronto-based artist Stephen Cruise to create an art installation. Mr Cruise used black granite salvaged from the former Hockey Hall of Fame/Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame building once at Exhibition Place. He sculpted 14 benches that feature laser-cut historical images. There are four benches at the southeast exterior of BMO Field, two more on its north exterior and three benches at the southeast exterior of the Food Building. Five benches are temporarily in storage due to roadwork.

The initial benches were so well received that four more were made, with two on the north and two on the south side of Beanfield Centre (the Automotive Building).

Stephen Cruise also crafted the glass mosaic screen called the Arc of Nations over the north entrance of the BMO Field. The installation resembles a shooting star and features over 200 flags representing the nations of FIFA’s affiliated associations following behind the earth, which represents a soccer ball.

Granite Bench Photos

2022 – The bench reads: 

The Crystal Palace … Palace of Industry… 
Built 1858 - Moved here 1878 
Main Building 1st CNE 1879 - Destroyed by fire 1906

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2022 – The bench reads:

The Crystal Palace … Palace of Industry…
Built 1858 – Moved here 1878
Main Building 1st CNE 1879 – Destroyed by fire 1906

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
1890s - The Crystal Palace was built in 1858 and originally located near King St W and Shaw St. In 1878, the building was dismantled and moved to Exhibition grounds, where it was enlarged. The Crystal Palace stood there until 1906 when it was destroyed by fire. Today, the Horticulture Building occupies the site
1890s – The Crystal Palace was built in 1858 and originally located near King St W and Shaw St. In 1878, the building was dismantled and moved to Exhibition grounds, where it was enlarged. The Crystal Palace stood there until 1906 when it was destroyed by fire. Today, the Horticulture Building occupies the site (CNE Archives)
2022 – The bench reads:

The Bandshell Built 1936
Louis Armstrong ’62 Guy Lombardo ‘67 Benny Goodman ’72-73
Gene Krupa ‘73 Buddy Rich ’74 Count Basie ‘76
Rudy Vallee ’76 Woody Herman ‘80 Mel Torme ‘93

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2022 – The bench reads:

The Bandshell Built 1936
Louis Armstrong ’62 Guy Lombardo ‘67 Benny Goodman ’72-73
Gene Krupa ‘73 Buddy Rich ’74 Count Basie ‘76
Rudy Vallee ’76 Woody Herman ‘80 Mel Torme ‘93

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
1946 - Opening ceremonies at the Bandshell for the CNE. The Bandshell is located at 100 Prince Edward Island Cres in Bandshell Park, on the south side of Exhibition Place in Toronto. Built in 1936, architects Craig & Madill designed the open-air Art Deco-style concert venue
1946 – Opening ceremonies at the Bandshell for the CNE. The Bandshell is located at 100 Prince Edward Island Cres in Bandshell Park, on the south side of Exhibition Place in Toronto. Built in 1936, architects Craig & Madill designed the open-air Art Deco-style concert venue (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 2368)
2022 – The bench reads: 

Fort Rouillé (Fort Toronto) 
Early French trading post 
Built here 1749, burned 1759

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2022 – The bench reads:

Fort Rouillé (Fort Toronto)
Early French trading post
Built here 1749, burned 1759

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
1915 - The Fort Rouillé Monument is on the south side of Exhibition Place, just east of the Scadding Cabin. The monument commemorates the early French trading post, built on the site in 1749 and burned down in 1759
1915 – The Fort Rouillé Monument is on the south side of Exhibition Place, just east of the Scadding Cabin. The monument commemorates the early French trading post, built on the site in 1749 and burned down in 1759 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1548, Series 393, Item 12462)
2022 – The bench reads: 

The Flyer – First Season 1953 
Over 39 years, 9 million passengers rode the Flyer

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2022 – The bench reads:

The Flyer – First Season 1953
Over 39 years, 9 million passengers rode the Flyer

Located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
1972 - Patty Conklin of Conklin Shows was contracted to build the Flyer roller coaster, which made its debut on the CNE Midway in 1953. It was designed by Joe McKee of NYC and was said to be the “fastest in the world” (at the time) and could reach speeds up to 65 miles or 104 km per hour. The mighty roller coaster cost $200,000 to construct and was 796 m or 2,612 ft long. The Flyer was in operation for 39 years and thrilled more than 9 million riders. It was demolished in 1992
1972 – Patty Conklin of Conklin Shows was contracted to build the Flyer roller coaster, which made its debut on the CNE Midway in 1953. It was designed by Joe McKee of NYC and was said to be the “fastest in the world” (at the time) and could reach speeds up to 65 miles or 104 km per hour. The mighty roller coaster cost $200,000 to construct and was 796 m or 2,612 ft long. The Flyer was in operation for 39 years and thrilled more than 9 million riders. It was demolished in 1992 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 94, Item 27)
2023 – The bench reads: 

The Grandstand - first built 1879
Last of the four versions was Exhibition Stadium  
Build here 1947-48 - Demolished 1999 

Located on the north side of BMO Field
2023 – The bench reads:

The Grandstand – first built 1879
Last of the four versions was Exhibition Stadium
Build here 1947-48 – Demolished 1999

Located on the north side of BMO Field
1910 - Many of us remember the Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand from attending a concert or sporting event, but did you know there have been a total of four grandstands? Also known as the CNE Grandstand, the structures were built on the same site in 1878, 1895, 1907 and 1948
1910 – Many of us remember the Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand from attending a concert or sporting event, but did you know there have been a total of four grandstands? Also known as the CNE Grandstand, the structures were built on the same site in 1878, 1895, 1907 and 1948 (CNE Archives)
2023 – The bench reads:  

Harness Racing 1879 – 1938 
World Champion horse ‘Dan Parch’ 
Broke the Canadian record here in 1905 

Located on the north side of BMO Field
2023 – The bench reads:

Harness Racing 1879 – 1938
World Champion horse ‘Dan Parch’
Broke the Canadian record here in 1905

Located on the north side of BMO Field
September 1, 1923 – Harness racing took place at Exhibition grounds from 1879 to 1938. It was where World Champion horse 'Dan Parch' broke the Canadian record in 1905. In the archive photo, the race is taking place at the track in front of the Grandstand. This version of the Exhibition Grandstand was in existence from 1906 until 1946
September 1, 1923 – Harness racing took place at Exhibition grounds from 1879 to 1938. It was where World Champion horse ‘Dan Parch’ broke the Canadian record in 1905. In the archive photo, the race is taking place at the track in front of the Grandstand. This version of the Exhibition Grandstand was in existence from 1906 until 1946 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 1405)
2022 – The bench reads: 

Toronto Blue Jays 
Open Game April 7, 1977 – Toronto 9 Chicago 5 
Exhibition Stadium 1977 - 1989

Located at the southeast exterior of the Food Building
2022 – The bench reads:

Toronto Blue Jays
Open Game April 7, 1977 – Toronto 9 Chicago 5
Exhibition Stadium 1977 – 1989

Located at the southeast exterior of the Food Building
September 24, 1977 – The Blue Jays played their first home game at Exhibition Stadium against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1977, and won 9 to 5. In 1989, the Toronto Blue Jays moved to the SkyDome (Rogers Centre). The archive photo shows Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox on September 24, 1977, playing at Exhibition Stadium
September 24, 1977 – The Blue Jays played their first home game at Exhibition Stadium against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1977, and won 9 to 5. In 1989, the Toronto Blue Jays moved to the SkyDome (Rogers Centre). The archive photo shows Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox on September 24, 1977, playing at Exhibition Stadium (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 95, Item 60)
2023 – The bench reads:

Toronto Argonauts "the Boatmen" – Founded in 1873
Exhibition Stadium 1959 -1988

Located at the southeast exterior of the Food Building
2023 – The bench reads:

Toronto Argonauts “the Boatmen” – Founded in 1873
Exhibition Stadium 1959 -1988

Located at the southeast exterior of the Food Building
1969 –The Argonauts played at the Exhibition Stadium from 1959 to 1988. Notice the Flyer roller coaster in the background
1969 –The Argonauts played at the Exhibition Stadium from 1959 to 1988. Notice the Flyer roller coaster in the background (CNE Archives)
2023 – The bench reads:

Bicycle Racing
Cycling came to the CNE 1880
Annual competitions
lasted until the 1970s

Located at the southeast exterior of the Food Building
2023 – The bench reads:

Bicycle Racing
Cycling came to the CNE 1880
Annual competitions
lasted until the 1970s

Located at the southeast exterior of the Food Building
Between 1920 and 1930s – Cycling came to the CNE in 1880, and annual competitions lasted until the 1970s
Between 1920 and 1930s – Cycling came to the CNE in 1880, and annual competitions lasted until the 1970s (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 5727)
2022 – The bench reads:

The Automotive Building Architect Douglas Kertland – Toronto erected 1929
From 1929 until 1967, the auto show was the most popular event presented at the annual CNE

Located on the north side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
2022 – The bench reads:

The Automotive Building Architect Douglas Kertland – Toronto erected 1929
From 1929 until 1967, the auto show was the most popular event presented at the annual CNE

Located on the north side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
2021 – The Automotive Building, today known as the Beanfield Centre, is located at 105 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place. Built in 1929, architect Douglas Edwin Kertland designed the Art Moderne pavilion next to The Princes’ Gates. Today, it’s home to the Beanfield Centre, a state-of-the-art conference centre
2021 – The Automotive Building, today known as the Beanfield Centre, is located at 105 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place. Built in 1929, architect Douglas Edwin Kertland designed the Art Moderne pavilion next to The Princes’ Gates. Today, it’s home to the Beanfield Centre, a state-of-the-art conference centre
2022 – The bench reads: 

The CNE Princes' Gates 
Opened by HRH Edward Prince of Wales
and his brother HRH Prince George August 30 1927

Located on the north side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
2022 – The bench reads:

The CNE Princes’ Gates
Opened by HRH Edward Prince of Wales
and his brother HRH Prince George August 30 1927

Located on the north side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
1931 – The Princes’ Gates was initially named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates.” The iconic entrance was renamed after Edward, Prince of Wales, and his brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent. Both brothers attended the official opening of the Canadian National Exhibition on August 30, 1927
1931 – The Princes’ Gates was initially named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates.” The iconic entrance was renamed after Edward, Prince of Wales, and his brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent. Both brothers attended the official opening of the Canadian National Exhibition on August 30, 1927 (Library and Archives Canada a052988)
2022 – The bench reads:

The Automotive Building erected 1929
Architect Douglas Kertland – Toronto

Located on the south side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
2022 – The bench reads:

The Automotive Building erected 1929
Architect Douglas Kertland – Toronto

Located on the south side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
August 22, 1929 – Looking towards the south facade of the Automotive Building, today known as the Beanfield Centre,. Built in 1929, architect Douglas Edwin Kertland designed the Art Moderne pavilion, which is located at 105 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place
August 22, 1929 – Looking towards the south facade of the Automotive Building, today known as the Beanfield Centre,. Built in 1929, architect Douglas Edwin Kertland designed the Art Moderne pavilion, which is located at 105 Princes’ Blvd at Exhibition Place (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 17573)
2022 – The bench reads:

Shell Oil Tower - Built near here 1955 
Renamed the Bulova Tower 1973 
Architect George Robb - Demolished 1985-86 
"Meet me at the Shell Tower"

Located on the south side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
2022 – The bench reads:

Shell Oil Tower – Built near here 1955
Renamed the Bulova Tower 1973
Architect George Robb – Demolished 1985-86
“Meet me at the Shell Tower”

Located on the south side of the Beanfield Centre (Automotive Building)
1960s – Shell Oil Tower was once located at Exhibition Place, near where Princes’ Blvd and Nunavut Rd intersect today. The tower was built in 1955 and designed by architect George Robb. It later became Bulova Tower and was dismantled in 1985
1960s – Shell Oil Tower was once located at Exhibition Place, near where Princes’ Blvd and Nunavut Rd intersect today. The tower was built in 1955 and designed by architect George Robb. It later became Bulova Tower and was dismantled in 1985 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 150, Item 13)
The bench reads:  

Marilyn Bell (16 yrs. old) September 9, 1954, 1st crossing of Lake Ontario - 20 hrs. 57 mins 
Youngstown New York to Exhibition Grounds 

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
2019 – The bench reads:

Marilyn Bell (16 yrs. old) September 9, 1954, 1st crossing of Lake Ontario – 20 hrs. 57 mins
Youngstown New York to Exhibition Grounds

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
September 9, 1954 - At the age of 16, Toronto-born Marilyn Bell swam the width of Lake Ontario
September 9, 1954 – At the age of 16, Toronto-born Marilyn Bell swam the width of Lake Ontario (CNE Archives)
The bench reads: 

LONGBOAT - COG - WA - GEE

Tom Longboat 1887 – 1948 Onondaga Six Nations (Caledonia)
Won the CNE Marathon 1906
Won the Boston Marathon 1907 - New course record 2:24:24

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
2019 – The bench reads:

LONGBOAT – COG – WA – GEE Tom Longboat 1887 – 1948 Onondaga Six Nations (Caledonia)
Won the CNE Marathon 1906
Won the Boston Marathon 1907 – New course record 2:24:24

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
1907 - Tom Longboat won the CNE Marathon in 1906, The following year, Tom won the Boston Marathon and set a new course record of 2:24:24
1907 – Tom Longboat won the CNE Marathon in 1906, The following year, Tom won the Boston Marathon and set a new course record of 2:24:24 (Library and Archives Canada 3192618)
2019 - The bench reads:  

"Jake" Gaudaur Sr. 1858 - 1937 Winner Matched Race Single Skull Rowing at the 1st Exhibition 1879 World Champion 1896 - 1901 

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
2019 – The bench reads:

“Jake” Gaudaur Sr. 1858 – 1937 Winner Matched Race Single Skull Rowing at the 1st Exhibition 1879 World Champion 1896 – 1901

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
1898 – Born in Orillia, Jacob Gill "Jake" Gaudaur was one of the world's greatest oarsmen
1898 – Born in Orillia, Jacob Gill “Jake” Gaudaur was one of the world’s greatest oarsmen (Library and Archives Canada a028872)
The bench reads:
 
Auto Sports Racing began here at the Grandstand 1913 

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
2019 – The bench reads:

Auto Sports Racing began here at the Grandstand 1913

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
1926 - Auto racing on the track in front of Exhibition Grandstand
1926 – Auto racing on the track in front of Exhibition Grandstand (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1399)
The bench reads:

Motorboat Racing First Scheduled at the Exhibition 1910   

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
2019 – The bench reads:

Motorboat Racing First Scheduled at the Exhibition 1910

This bench is temporarily in storage (Photo courtesy of Exhibition Place)
1929 - Sea flea boat in Lake Ontario during the Canadian National Exhibition. Notice the former Women’s Building and the former Manufacturers Building in the background. Motorboat racing was first introduced at the Exhibition in 1910
1929 – Sea flea boat in Lake Ontario during the Canadian National Exhibition. Notice the former Women’s Building and the former Manufacturers Building in the background. Motorboat racing was first introduced at the Exhibition in 1910 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 17838)
2022 – The four granite benches commemorating Fort Rouillé, The Bandshell, Crystal Palace and the Flyer are located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2022 – The four granite benches commemorating Fort Rouillé, The Bandshell, Crystal Palace and the Flyer are located at the southeast exterior of BMO Field
2023 - Toronto-based artist Stephen Cruise also created the Arc of Nations.    It's located over the north entrance to the BMO Field
2023 – Toronto-based artist Stephen Cruise also created the Arc of Nations. It’s located over the north entrance to the BMO Field
2023 - The Arc of Nations, also created by Toronto-based artist Stephen Cruise, is located over the north entrance to the BMO Field
2023 – The Arc of Nations, also created by Toronto-based artist Stephen Cruise, is located over the north entrance to the BMO Field
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