Princes’ Gates – The Monumental Entrance to the CNE

1929 - The Princes' Gates at the Canadian National Exhibition
1929 – The Princes’ Gates at the Canadian National Exhibition (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 7108)

The Princes’ Gates are located at Exhibition Place (at Strachan Ave and Lake Shore Blvd W) in Toronto. They are one of two main entrances to the grounds and The CNE, the other being the Dufferin Gate.

About the Grand Gates

The iconic gates were opened in 1927 in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Canadian Confederation at the Canadian National Exhibition. The entrance was initially named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates.”

The Beaux-Arts style structure was designed by Toronto architects Chapman & Oxley, while the sculptures were created by Charles McKechnie, all made from cement. The nine Ionic columns that flank the arch represent the then-nine provinces that were part of the Confederation. Earlier in the decade, Alfred Chapman had also been hired to design the nearby Toronto Harbour Commission building.

How Did the Gates Get Their Name?

2019 - The impressive Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place
2019 – The impressive Princes’ Gates at Exhibition Place

The Princes’ Gates 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.

The Princes’ Gates Sculptures

High atop the gates is the Goddess of Winged Victory, leading Canada into the future. She’s 3.6 m or 12 ft tall and holds a crown overhead in her left hand and a maple leaf in the right. The goddess stands in a ship of state protected by seahorses in waves. The four sculptures around her include:

  • Two figures, each holding a beehive representing labour
  • Two figures, each having a cornucopia representing agriculture and fruits of the harvest

Ontario’s Coat of Arms at the end of the two curved walls each has the following sculptures:

  • A woman holding grain sheafs represents farming
  • A man with his hand on a cogged wheel with chains near his feet and drawings in his lap representing industry and construction

Goddess of Winged Victory Gets Replaced

The Princes’ Gates received heritage status in 1973. The Winged Victory sculpture was severely weathered and, in 1987, was replaced with a polymer resin replica. Until this time, she was holding a lamp in her right hand, which was replaced with a crown. In 1994, the other four sculptures were replaced with poured concrete, the medium they were initially made.

Princes’ Gates Photos

2022 – Looking east towards the Princes' Gates
2022 – Looking east towards the Princes’ Gates
2019 - The impressive Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place
2019 – The impressive Princes’ Gates at Exhibition Place
1929 - The Princes' Gates at the Canadian National Exhibition
1929 – The Princes’ Gates at the Canadian National Exhibition (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 7108)
2020 - Looking southwest towards the Princes' Gates and the Hotel X Toronto in the background
2020 – Looking southwest towards the Princes’ Gates and the Hotel X Toronto in the background
1927 - Construction of the Princes' Gates during the spring
1927 – Construction of the Princes’ Gates during the spring (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail Fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 10940)
1927 - The Prince of Wales opening the Princes' Gates at the CNE
1927 – The Prince of Wales opening the Princes’ Gates at the CNE (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail Fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 11384)
2020 - The Princes' Gates arch
2020 – The Princes’ Gates arch
2021 – Looking up at the Princes' Gates arch
2021 – Looking up at the Princes’ Gates arch
1927 - The Princes' Gates
1927 – The Princes’ Gates (Archives of Ontario I0012500)
2020 - Goddess of Winged Victory and seahorses sculpture at the Princes' Gates
2020 – Goddess of Winged Victory and seahorses sculpture at the Princes’ Gates
2020 – Goddess of Winged Victory and other figures at the top of the Princes’ Gates
2020 – Goddess of Winged Victory and other figures at the top of the Princes’ Gates
1929 – Looking northeast towards the Engineering & Electrical Building (demolished in 1972) on the left and Princes' Gates in the centre during the construction of the Automotive Building
1929 – Looking northeast towards the Engineering & Electrical Building (demolished in 1972) on the left and Princes’ Gates in the centre during the construction of the Automotive Building (CNE Archives)
1929 - The Princes' Gates and the Canadian National Exhibition
1929 – The Princes’ Gates and the Canadian National Exhibition (Library and Archives Canada a060458)
1931 - The CNE and Princes' Gates
1931 – The CNE and Princes’ Gates (Library and Archives Canada a052988)
1937 - The CNE and Princes' Gates in the background
1937 – The CNE and Princes’ Gates in the background
2021 – Looking east towards the Princes' Gates from Exhibition Place
2021 – Looking east towards the Princes’ Gates from Exhibition Place
1926 - Princes' Gates model
1926 – Princes’ Gates model (Toronto Public Library R-2682)
1927 – Princes' Gates at night
1927 – Princes’ Gates at night (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 13190)
1929 – Looking east towards the Princes' Gates
1929 – Looking east towards the Princes’ Gates (CNE Archives)
1931 – Looking east from the CNE towards the Princes' Gates
1931 – Looking east from the CNE towards the Princes’ Gates (CNE Archives)
1939 – Looking west towards the Princes' Gates
1939 – Looking west towards the Princes’ Gates (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 938a)
1939 - Canadian National Exhibition poster
1939 – Canadian National Exhibition poster (CNE Archives)
1960s– Looking east from the CNE towards the Princes' Gates
1960s– Looking east from the CNE towards the Princes’ Gates (CNE Archives)
1960's - Victor Borge with his Contraption and the Untouchable Dragster
1960’s – Victor Borge with his Contraption and the Untouchable Dragster (CNE Archives)
1965 - Car 305 leaving Exhibition grounds via Princes' Gates, at the start of The CNE's first marathon car rally
1965 – Car 305 leaving Exhibition grounds via Princes’ Gates, at the start of The CNE’s first marathon car rally (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 5802)
1971 - Fun at the CNE and Princes' Gates
1971 – Fun at the CNE and Princes’ Gates (CNE Archives)
1980's - The Princes' Gates and Bulova Tower
1980’s – The Princes’ Gates and Bulova Tower (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 416, Item 7)
1981 - Overhead view of the Princes' Gates, the CNE and surrounding area
1981 – Overhead view of the Princes’ Gates, the CNE and surrounding area (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 95, Item 86)
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Princes' Gates
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Princes’ Gates
Between 1980s and 1990s – Looking northwest from the Martin Goodman Trail towards the Princes' Gates
Between 1980s and 1990s – Looking northwest from the Martin Goodman Trail towards the Princes’ Gates (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Item 7)
2020 - Sculpture holding a cornucopia at the Princes' Gates
2020 – Sculpture holding a cornucopia at the Princes’ Gates
2020 - Sculpture holding a beehive at the Princes' Gates
2020 – Sculpture holding a beehive at the Princes’ Gates
2020 - Man with a cogged wheel sculpture at the Princes' Gates
2020 – Man with a cogged wheel sculpture at the Princes’ Gates
2020 - Ontario's Coat of Arms sculpture at the Princes' Gates
2020 – Ontario’s Coat of Arms sculpture at the Princes’ Gates
2020 - The Princes' Gates
2020 – The Princes’ Gates
2019 – At the CNE in front of the Princes' Gates
2019 – At the CNE in front of the Princes’ Gates
2020 - The Princes' Gates heritage plaque
2020 – The Princes’ Gates heritage plaque
2021 – Princes' Gates heritage plaque
2021 – Princes’ Gates heritage plaque
2020 – Designing the CNE’S Grand Entrance heritage plaque
2020 – Designing the CNE’S Grand Entrance heritage plaque
2022 – Piazza Princes' Gates plaque
2022 – Piazza Princes’ Gates plaque
2020 – The Warriors’ Day Parade has marched through the Princes' Gates since 1927
2020 – The Warriors’ Day Parade has marched through the Princes’ Gates since 1927
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