Horticulture Building – The Elegant Pavilion at Exhibition Place

1975 - Looking west towards the main entrance of the Horticulture Building at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. Completed in 1907, the majestic lake-facing pavilion is today home to the Toronto Event Centre
1975 – Looking west towards the main entrance of the Horticulture Building at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. Completed in 1907, the majestic lake-facing pavilion is today home to the Toronto Event Centre (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)

The Horticulture Building, today home to the Toronto Event Centre, is located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd (between Dufferin St and Princes’ Blvd) at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

The Architecture of the Horticulture Building

Built in 1906/07, architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the Beaux-Arts style pavilion to display flowers, fruits, plants and vegetables.

The one-storey structure features a red-brick façade with classical and Baroque elements in white stone, decorative portico entrances and metal cornice work. The Horticulture Building is uniquely E-shaped. A cross-section on the south end joins the structure’s three wings that extend to Saskatchewan Rd.

1914 – Looking northwest towards crowds taking in the view of Lake Ontario from the lawn of the Horticulture Building
1914 – Looking northwest towards crowds taking in the view of Lake Ontario from the lawn of the Horticulture Building (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)

Its central entrance faces Lake Ontario and is topped with a magnificent glazed glass and steel dome that towers 23 m or 75 ft high from floor to tip and is 18 m or 65 ft in diameter. Outside, the dome’s 16 main ribs were once studded with electric bulbs making its crown shine. The Horticulture Building cost approximately $90,000 to construct and, at the time, was considered fireproof.

It opened for the 1907 Canadian National Exhibition along with the Railway Building (today’s Music Building) and Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand.

For several decades the Horticulture Building primarily served to exhibit floral and agricultural items as well as for competitions related to the industry. It did, however, perform other duties.

A Morgue for the Noronic Disaster

On the evening of September 16, 1949, the Great Lakes luxury cruise ship, the SS Noronic, docked at Pier 9 (once near today’s Jack Layton Ferry Terminal). At 1:30 am the following morning, before everyone aboard could be woken up, a fire quickly turned into a raging inferno. In the end, 119 people perished.

Officials realized that Toronto’s morgue could not handle the number of dead. The city’s Chief Coroner contacted the CNE’s General Manager, and for five months, the Horticulture Building served as a vast impromptu morgue.

New Toronto City Hall Design Competition

1958 - Models of the international design competition submissions for Toronto's new City Hall set up under the dome in the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place
1958 – Models of the international design competition submissions for Toronto’s new City Hall set up under the dome in the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place (Canadian Architectural Archives, Panda Associates Fonds, CU110864849)

In 1958, the Horticulture Building was used to display the model submissions in the international competition to design Toronto’s new City Hall. There were over 500 entries received from 42 countries. The models and designs filled the building and, if laid out end-to-end, would stretch 4 km or 2.5 miles.

The winning design was created by Viljo Revell and Associates from Helsinki, Finland. The architectural style of Toronto City Hall brought the city into a modern era when it opened in 1965.

The Property Today

In 2004, a long-term lease was signed for the 41,000 sq ft Horticulture Building and the surrounding 86,000 sq ft property. Two years later, the historic structure became home to Muzik, an exclusive nightclub attracting celebrities, musicians, athletes and politicians. In 2013, the property underwent $5 million in upgrades to develop a pool and patio venue around the building.

In 2018, Muzik was rebranded into the Toronto Event Centre, an entertainment venue and supper club with commercial space.

Did You Know?

2022 – Looking west towards the southern facade of the Toronto Event Centre, also known as the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The structure received heritage status from the city in 1973
2022 – Looking west towards the southern facade of the Toronto Event Centre, also known as the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The structure received heritage status from the city in 1973
  • During World War I and II, CNE grounds became known as Exhibition Camp for the Canadian Armed Forces. From 1942 until 1946, the Horticulture Building served as the Quartermaster Stores.
  • The Horticulture Building received heritage status from the city in 1973.
  • Out of over 20 early Exhibition buildings designed by GW Gouinlock between 1902 and 1917, only five remain today. They include the Administrative, Music, Horticulture and Government buildings, along with the Fire Hall/Police Station. They represent the finest and most extensive group of early 20th-century exhibition buildings in the country and were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988.
  • Over 20 limestone sculptures known as the Garden of Greek Gods, created by renowned Toronto artist Elford Bradley Cox, were donated to the city in 1979 by a local restauranteur named Athanasios Karamanos. For several years, many pieces were around the grounds of the Horticulture Building. In 2022, the figures were relocated and unveiled at their new permanent home on the south side of Exhibition Place. They are free to see and, once again, publicly accessible.
  • The Crystal Palace once stood on the site of the present-day Horticulture Building. It was the jewel of the Exhibition and the primary exhibit building. The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire on Thanksgiving night in 1906.

Horticulture Building Photos

Spring 1907 - The construction crew of the Horticulture Building. Architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the building
Spring 1907 – The construction crew of the Horticulture Building. Architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the building (Library and Archives Canada a052948)
1912 – The Horticulture Building, today known as the Toronto Event Centre, is located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. The dome’s 16 main ribs were once studded with electric bulbs making the building's crown shine
1912 – The Horticulture Building, today known as the Toronto Event Centre, is located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. The dome’s 16 main ribs were once studded with electric bulbs making the building’s crown shine (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 41, Item 731)
Circa 1912 – 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 Administration Building is on the right, and the covered Gooderham Fountain is in the centre
Circa 1912 – 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 Administration Building is on the right, and the covered Gooderham Fountain is in the centre (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 942)
1913 – Looking north towards the central entrance of the Horticulture Building. The structure was completed for the 1907 CNE and designed to exhibit flowers, fruits, plants and vegetables. Today it's home to the Toronto Event Centre
1913 – Looking north towards the central entrance of the Horticulture Building. The structure was completed for the 1907 CNE and designed to exhibit flowers, fruits, plants and vegetables. Today it’s home to the Toronto Event Centre (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 94)
1914 – Looking northwest towards crowds taking in the view of Lake Ontario from the lawn of the Horticulture Building
1914 – Looking northwest towards crowds taking in the view of Lake Ontario from the lawn of the Horticulture Building (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
Circa 1915 - When the Canadian military was using the grounds as Exhibition Camp during World War I. The Horticulture Building is in the background
Circa 1915 – When the Canadian military was using the grounds as Exhibition Camp during World War I. The Horticulture Building is in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 777K)
1920 - Looking northwest toward visitors on the lawns in front of the Horticulture Building during the Canadian National Exhibition. Today, the lawn in the foreground is home to Carillon Tower and Bandshell Park. Notice the dome of the Government Building (today's Medieval Times dinner theatre) is in the background on the left
1920 – Looking northwest toward visitors on the lawns in front of the Horticulture Building during the Canadian National Exhibition. Today, the lawn in the foreground is home to Carillon Tower and Bandshell Park. Notice the dome of the Government Building (today’s Medieval Times dinner theatre) is in the background on the left (Library and Archives Canada a097019)
1920 – Postcard of the Grand Plaza featuring the Horticulture Building and the Gooderham Fountain during the Canadian National Exhibition
1920 – Postcard of the Grand Plaza featuring the Horticulture Building and the Gooderham Fountain during the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto Public Library PC50)
1921 – The beautifully manicured gardens at the Horticulture Building. Architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the Beaux-Arts style building, which opened for the 1907 CNE. Along with the glazed dome, the building features a red-brick façade with classical and Baroque elements in white stone
1921 – The beautifully manicured gardens at the Horticulture Building. Architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the Beaux-Arts style building, which opened for the 1907 CNE. Along with the glazed dome, the building features a red-brick façade with classical and Baroque elements in white stone (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0112027F)
1921 - Looking northwest towards crowds enjoying the CNE. In the centre background is the Horticulture Building, and on the left is the Government Building (known today as Medieval Times dinner theatre). The lawn in the foreground is today's Bandshell Park which is home to Carillon Tower and the Bandshell
1921 – Looking northwest towards crowds enjoying the CNE. In the centre background is the Horticulture Building, and on the left is the Government Building (known today as Medieval Times dinner theatre). The lawn in the foreground is today’s Bandshell Park which is home to Carillon Tower and the Bandshell (Library and Archives Canada a097112)
1923 – Looking northeast towards the front lawn and lake-facing main entrance of the Horticulture Building. Until 1906, the site was home to the Crystal Palace
1923 – Looking northeast towards the front lawn and lake-facing main entrance of the Horticulture Building. Until 1906, the site was home to the Crystal Palace (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 1137)
1924 – A Canadian National Exhibition poster highlighting the Gooderham Fountain with the Horticulture and Government Buildings in the background
1924 – A Canadian National Exhibition poster highlighting the Gooderham Fountain with the Horticulture and Government Buildings in the background (CNE Archives)
1925 - Looking southwest towards the Gooderham Fountain and the Horticulture Building from what we know today as Princes' Blvd, near Manitoba Dr
1925 – Looking southwest towards the Gooderham Fountain and the Horticulture Building from what we know today as Princes’ Blvd, near Manitoba Dr (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1928 – Looking south towards the decorative portico entrance of the Horticulture Building's centre wing from today's Centennial Park
1928 – Looking south towards the decorative portico entrance of the Horticulture Building’s centre wing from today’s Centennial Park (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 6098)
1920s – The Gooderham Fountain with the Horticultural Building in the background at Exhibition Place. In 1958, the Gooderham Fountain was replaced by the Princess Margaret Fountain
1920s – The Gooderham Fountain with the Horticultural Building in the background at Exhibition Place. In 1958, the Gooderham Fountain was replaced by the Princess Margaret Fountain (CNE Archives)
1933 - The north side of the Horticulture Building, looking towards the centre wing
1933 – The north side of the Horticulture Building, looking towards the centre wing (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1938 -The CNE flagpole with the Horticulture Building in the background in today's Bandshell Park
1938 -The CNE flagpole with the Horticulture Building in the background in today’s Bandshell Park (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1950 - The magnificent Horticulture Building at night. The one-storey pavilion features classical and Baroque elements in white stone
1950 – The magnificent Horticulture Building at night. The one-storey pavilion features classical and Baroque elements in white stone (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1953 – Crowds on the north side of the Horticulture Building. Notice the structure's glass and steel dome and the centre and west wings
1953 – Crowds on the north side of the Horticulture Building. Notice the structure’s glass and steel dome and the centre and west wings (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 536, Item 92)
1954 – A flower show at the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The building is topped with a glazed glass and steel dome that towers 23 m or 75 ft high from floor to tip
1954 – A flower show at the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The building is topped with a glazed glass and steel dome that towers 23 m or 75 ft high from floor to tip (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 94, Item 2)
1955 – A flower show at the Horticulture Building. The building is one of five structures at Exhibition Place designed by George Wallace Gouinlock which have been designated National Historic Sites of Canada
1955 – A flower show at the Horticulture Building. The building is one of five structures at Exhibition Place designed by George Wallace Gouinlock which have been designated National Historic Sites of Canada (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 536, Item 395)
1958 - Models of the international design competition submissions for Toronto's new City Hall set up under the dome in the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place
1958 – Models of the international design competition submissions for Toronto’s new City Hall set up under the dome in the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place (Canadian Architectural Archives, Panda Associates Fonds, CU110864849)
1958 - The Horticulture Building was filled with over 500 entries received from 42 countries for the design of Toronto's new City Hall. If the models and designs were laid out end-to-end, they would stretch 4 km or 2.5 miles
1958 – The Horticulture Building was filled with over 500 entries received from 42 countries for the design of Toronto’s new City Hall. If the models and designs were laid out end-to-end, they would stretch 4 km or 2.5 miles (Canadian Architectural Archives, Panda Associates Fonds, CU110864370)
1961 – Looking northwest towards a flower display near what is known today as Princes' Blvd and Prince Edward Islands Cres. The Horticulture Building is in the background on the left, and the Queen Elizabeth Building is on the right
1961 – Looking northwest towards a flower display near what is known today as Princes’ Blvd and Prince Edward Islands Cres. The Horticulture Building is in the background on the left, and the Queen Elizabeth Building is on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 536, Item 727)
1961 – Looking northeast from the south lawn and gardens at the Horticulture Building
1961 – Looking northeast from the south lawn and gardens at the Horticulture Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 536, Item 726)
1965 – Looking east from Dufferin St and Saskatchewan Rd towards the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The uniquely E-shaped building features three wings which are visible in the photo
1965 – Looking east from Dufferin St and Saskatchewan Rd towards the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The uniquely E-shaped building features three wings which are visible in the photo (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 333, Item 4)
1965 – Looking northwest towards the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The dome towers 23 m or 75 ft high from floor to tip and was once painted gold
1965 – Looking northwest towards the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The dome towers 23 m or 75 ft high from floor to tip and was once painted gold (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 333, Item 2)
Circa 1965 - A postcard of the Horticulture Building at the CNE. Opening for the 1907 Exhibition, the pavilion was designed to display flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables
Circa 1965 – A postcard of the Horticulture Building at the CNE. Opening for the 1907 Exhibition, the pavilion was designed to display flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1974 – Looking northeast on Saskatchewan Rd during the CNE. The crowds are walking past the Horticulture Building's centre and east wings
1974 – Looking northeast on Saskatchewan Rd during the CNE. The crowds are walking past the Horticulture Building’s centre and east wings (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 95, Item 19)
1975 - Looking west towards the main entrance of the Horticulture Building at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. Completed in 1907, the majestic lake-facing pavilion is today home to the Toronto Event Centre
1975 – Looking west towards the main entrance of the Horticulture Building at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. Completed in 1907, the majestic lake-facing pavilion is today home to the Toronto Event Centre (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1975 - A maple tree under the dome of the Horticulture Building. Today, the space is part of the venue Toronto Event Centre
1975 – A maple tree under the dome of the Horticulture Building. Today, the space is part of the venue Toronto Event Centre (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
1976 - Looking towards the western and southern facades of the Horticulture Building
1976 – Looking towards the western and southern facades of the Horticulture Building (Courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Association Archives)
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Toronto Event Centre, originally the Horticulture Building, located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. Built in 1907, architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the E-shaped Beaux-Arts structure
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Toronto Event Centre, originally the Horticulture Building, located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place. Built in 1907, architect George Wallace Gouinlock designed the E-shaped Beaux-Arts structure
2022 – Looking west towards the southern facade of the Toronto Event Centre, also known as the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The structure received heritage status from the city in 1973
2022 – Looking west towards the southern facade of the Toronto Event Centre, also known as the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place. The structure received heritage status from the city in 1973
2021 – The Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. In the background on the left is Carillon Tower, and on the right is the historic dome of the Horticulture Building
2021 – The Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. In the background on the left is Carillon Tower, and on the right is the historic dome of the Horticulture Building
2022 – The north side of the Horticulture Building, today known as the Toronto Event Centre, located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place, during the CNE. Notice the building's dome is undergoing restoration work
2022 – The north side of the Horticulture Building, today known as the Toronto Event Centre, located at 15 Saskatchewan Rd at Exhibition Place, during the CNE. Notice the building’s dome is undergoing restoration work
2022 - Looking north toward restoration work on Horticulture Building's dome. The glass and steel dome is 23 m or 75 ft in height and 18 m or 65 ft in diameter
2022 – Looking north toward restoration work on Horticulture Building’s dome. The glass and steel dome is 23 m or 75 ft in height and 18 m or 65 ft in diameter
2022 – Looking east towards the centre and east wings of the Toronto Event Centre, known as the Horticulture Building, at 15 Saskatchewan Rd
2022 – Looking east towards the centre and east wings of the Toronto Event Centre, known as the Horticulture Building, at 15 Saskatchewan Rd
2022 – Looking west towards the Toronto Event Centre, also known as the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place
2022 – Looking west towards the Toronto Event Centre, also known as the Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place
1890s – The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1906 and replaced the following year by the Horticulture Building
1890s – The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1906 and replaced the following year by the Horticulture Building (CNE Archives)
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