Princess Margaret Fountain – Exhibition Place’s Graceful Centrepiece

2022 – The contemporary two-tier Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes' Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. It sits on a pedestal with terrazzo-covered steel supports under each tier. Water springs from the top of the fountain into a smaller basin. It then cascades into the larger lower basin before falling into the pool below
2022 – The contemporary two-tier Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Exhibition Place

The Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

The Fountain’s Design

The contemporary fountain stands 3.6 m or 12 ft tall. It’s made of reinforced concrete and steel and was created by the Toronto-based company Design Craft Limited. Surrounded by a flower garden and a pool, the two-tier Princess Margaret Fountain sits on a pedestal with terrazzo-covered steel supports under each tier. Water springs from the top of the fountain into a smaller basin. It then cascades into the larger lower basin before falling into the pool below.

July 31, 1958 - Princess Margaret at the opening of the fountain in her name at Exhibition grounds. The Princess was on a month-long tour of Canada
July 31, 1958 – Princess Margaret at the opening of the fountain in her name at Exhibition grounds. The Princess was on a month-long tour of Canada (CNE Archives)

Princess Margaret’s 1958 Visit

In the summer of 1958, Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret was on a month-long tour of Canada. About a week before her Toronto visit, Mayor Nathan Phillips received word that the Princess approved of her name being used for the new Exhibition fountain.

On July 31, 1958, 27-year-old Princess Margaret arrived in Toronto. She disembarked the nine-railcar Royal train at the Riverdale Park station and was greeted by officials. A local newspaper mentioned the Don River was deodorized for the occasion.

Over 500,000 people lined Toronto’s streets to watch the motorcade pass by. There was a stop at Old City Hall for a ceremony, then Princess Margaret’s convertible drove up University Ave around Queen’s Park Cres and back down Bay St through a shower of ticker tape and flag-waving fans. Next was a luncheon at the Royal York Hotel with 800 guests. It was where Leslie Frost, Premier of Ontario, announced a new $10,000,000 cancer research centre would be named after the Princess.

A Colourful Ceremony at Exhibition Grounds

At the Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand, thousands were waiting for a glimpse of the Princess. On the stage was a floral replica of the fountain. Princess Margaret appeared briefly near the Grandstand, where the crowd stood and cheered.

At the fountain, rockets soared into the sky, releasing flags of the Commonwealth nations when the Princess pressed a button to start the Exhibition’s new centrepiece. Time did not allow for a speech at the fountain. The Princess was off to Parkdale Station to leave a captivated Toronto for the next stop on her tour.

Circa 1960 - Crowds around the Princess Margaret Fountain. Notice the former Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand and Manufacturers Building in the background
Circa 1960 – Crowds around the Princess Margaret Fountain (CNE Archives)

Did You Know?

  • Princess Margaret Rose Windsor, Countess of Snowdon, was born in 1930 and passed away in 2002. She was the younger sister and only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • From 1867 until 1958, Princess Margaret was the 9th Royal to visit Canada.
  • Princess Margaret Hospital was founded as the Ontario Cancer Institute in 1952. It was initially located at 500 Sherbourne St and Wellesley St E, on the northwest corner. During the 1958 Royal visit, the hospital was officially renamed in her honour. In 1995, the hospital moved to 610 University Ave and the following year, Princess Margaret visited once again to formally re-open the 130-bed cancer hospital, today known as the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
  • From 1911 until 1958, the Gooderham Fountain was located approximately 31 m or 100 ft northwest of where the Princess Margaret Fountain stands today.
  • When the fountain was installed, it was valued at $300,000.
  • In a 1959 CNE closing night prank, someone turned the fountain into a mound of bubbles that made their way over to the Bandshell.
  • The fountain received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1993.

Princess Margaret Fountain Photos

2022 – Looking southwest towards the Princess Margaret Fountain during the CNE. Notice the clock of the Carillon Tower in the distance
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Princess Margaret Fountain during the CNE. Notice the clock of the Carillon Tower in the distance
July 31, 1958 - Princess Margaret at the opening of the fountain in her name at Exhibition grounds. The Princess was on a month-long tour of Canada
July 31, 1958 – Princess Margaret at the opening of the fountain in her name at Exhibition grounds. The Princess was on a month-long tour of Canada (CNE Archives)
1959 – Air Force pilots at the Canadian International Air Show, in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain. Notice the Queen Elizabeth Building and Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand in the background
1959 – Air Force pilots at the Canadian International Air Show, in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain. Notice the Queen Elizabeth Building and Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand in the background (CNE Archives)
Circa 1960 - Crowds around the Princess Margaret Fountain. Notice the former Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand and Manufacturers Building in the background
Circa 1960 – Crowds around the Princess Margaret Fountain. Notice the former Exhibition Stadium & Grandstand and Manufacturers Building in the background (CNE Archives)
Circa 1960 - The Smothers Brothers on motorcycles in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain
Circa 1960 – The Smothers Brothers on motorcycles in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain (CNE Archives)
Between 1958 and 1969 - Princess Margaret Fountain illuminated in red, blue and green at Exhibition Place
Between 1958 and 1969 – Princess Margaret Fountain illuminated in red, blue and green at Exhibition Place (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 492, Item 244)
1960s – Listening to a transistor radio on the balcony of the Administration Building at the Canadian National Exhibition. Notice in the background the Princess Margaret Fountain and the Better Living Centre. The pocket transistor radio came out in 1954
1960s – Listening to a transistor radio on the balcony of the Administration Building at the Canadian National Exhibition. Notice in the background the Princess Margaret Fountain and the Better Living Centre. The pocket transistor radio came out in 1954 (CNE Archives)
1962 – Margaret Hintenseer and Shirley Blatchford in their Amphicar in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain during the CNE. Notice the Better Living Centre in the background
1962 – Margaret Hintenseer and Shirley Blatchford in their Amphicar in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain during the CNE. Notice the Better Living Centre in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 5784)
1965 - The Princess Margaret Fountain at the Canadian National Exhibition. The fountain was installed in 1958 and is made of reinforced concrete and steel
1965 – The Princess Margaret Fountain at the Canadian National Exhibition. The fountain was installed in 1958 and is made of reinforced concrete and steel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 15, ID 2)
Between 1978 and 1987 - A mime in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain at Exhibition Place. The contemporary fountain stands 3.6 m or 12 ft in height
Between 1978 and 1987 – A mime in front of the Princess Margaret Fountain at Exhibition Place. The contemporary fountain stands 3.6 m or 12 ft in height (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, File 363, Item 4)
2022 – The two-tier Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes' Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. It sits on a pedestal with terrazzo-covered steel supports under each tier. Water springs from the top of the fountain into a smaller basin. It then cascades into the larger lower basin before falling into the pool below
2022 – The two-tier Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. It sits on a pedestal with terrazzo-covered steel supports under each tier. Water springs from the top of the fountain into a smaller basin. It then cascades into the larger lower basin before falling into the pool below
2022 – Looking north towards the Princess Margaret Fountain during the CNE. Notice the Administration Building in the background and the Queen Elizabeth Building on the right
2022 – Looking north towards the Princess Margaret Fountain during the CNE. Notice the Administration Building in the background and the Queen Elizabeth Building on the right
2022 - The Princess Margaret Fountain before it was turned on during the day at the CNE. Notice the dome of the Horticulture Building is being worked on
2022 – The Princess Margaret Fountain before it was turned on during the day at the CNE. Notice the dome of the Horticulture Building is being worked on
2022 – The Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. The fountain was opened by Princess Margaret herself in 1958. In the background are the Carillon Tower and the Horticulture Building
2022 – The Princess Margaret Fountain is located at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr at Exhibition Place. The fountain was opened by Princess Margaret herself in 1958. In the background are the Carillon Tower and the Horticulture Building
2022 – The Princess Margaret Fountain during the Canadian National Exhibition. The fountain received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1993
2022 – The Princess Margaret Fountain during the Canadian National Exhibition. The fountain received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1993
2021 - Looking southeast from the Princess Margaret Fountain at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr towards the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place
2021 – Looking southeast from the Princess Margaret Fountain at Princes’ Blvd and Manitoba Dr towards the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place
2021 - Canadian flags surrounding the Princess Margaret Fountain at Exhibition Place. At the time of the photograph, the fountain did not contain water so the supports under each tier are more visible
2021 – Canadian flags surrounding the Princess Margaret Fountain at Exhibition Place. At the time of the photograph, the fountain did not contain water so the supports under each tier are more visible
2022 – The plaque and flower garden surrounding the Princess Margaret Fountain at Exhibition Place. The Princess Margaret Fountain replaced the Gooderham Fountain in 1958
2022 – The plaque and flower garden surrounding the Princess Margaret Fountain at Exhibition Place. The Princess Margaret Fountain replaced the Gooderham Fountain in 1958
2022 - The plaque on the Princess Margaret Fountain about the former Gooderham Fountain reads, "In 1911, a fountain, which was a replica of one in St. Peter's Square, Rome, Italy, was erected on this site and presented to the Canadian National Exhibition by Mr. George H. Gooderham during his final year as President. That fountain was replaced by the present one in 1958."
2022 – The plaque on the Princess Margaret Fountain about the former Gooderham Fountain reads, “In 1911, a fountain, which was a replica of one in St. Peter’s Square, Rome, Italy, was erected on this site and presented to the Canadian National Exhibition by Mr. George H. Gooderham during his final year as President. That fountain was replaced by the present one in 1958.”
SOURCE
  • City of Toronto Heritage Register: 100 Princes’ Blvd
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: Jul 23, 1958, pg 1
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Aug 1, 1958, pgs 1-2
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: Aug 1, 1958, pg 1
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Sep 15, 1959, pg 11
  • CNE Heritage
  • Exhibition Place: History
  • University Health Network: Our History: Princess Margaret History
  • Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & CNE Heritage