Royal Agricultural Winter Fair – Country Comes to the City

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2023 - Kay is the 2023 Royal Ambassador. She is a year and a half old Polled Dorset yearling ewe making her first appearance last year at the 100th Anniversary Royal Gala, where she represented a century of sheep. Kay went on to win Reserve Champion in the 2022 Royal Sheep Show. Alongside her duties as Ambassador, Kay will also be competing in this year's Fair. She is owned by the Brien family of Ridgetown, Ontario
2023 – Kay is the 2023 Royal Ambassador. She is a year and a half old Polled Dorset yearling ewe (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is an annual exhibition of Canada’s finest agricultural products and livestock. The event was created shortly after World War I by a group of notable Canadian farmers and ranchers led by shorthorn cattle owner WA Dryden. Their objective was to set standards for judging domestic animals and to celebrate the accomplishments of the country’s farmers.

The group had the full support of the Canadian National Exhibition Association and the three levels of government, who agreed to build a vast arena for the CNE and house the newly formed Winter Fair. In 1920, King George V of England extended permission to use the “Royal” moniker in the Fair’s title.

Construction began on the Royal Coliseum in 1921, in advance of the first Fair scheduled for November of that year. Setbacks postponed the event until 1922, but when it was finally held, the first Royal Winter Fair was a huge success.

The inaugural Fair’s prizes totalled $65,000 and covered many agricultural endeavours, including horses, cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, foxes, pets, pigeons, fruits, vegetables, flowers, seeds and dairy products. General admission was 25¢.

The Royal Horse Show

Circa 1949 - A Percheron working horse at The Fair
Circa 1949 – A Percheron working horse at The Fair (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)

The Horse Show is and has always been a highly anticipated event which brings together top equestrians and horses from around the world to compete in various disciplines, including show jumping, harness and dressage. Feel the earth tremble when the six-horse hitches pass around the ring, or cheer for your favourite high stepper. The event attracts competitors and spectators who come together to enjoy the beauty, grace, and athleticism of these magnificent animals and their riders. It’s a fantastic opportunity to witness world-class horsemanship.

The Agricultural Show

The Royal highlights the best of Canada’s livestock, crops and food. Over a century later, the Fair continues to feature dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep and wool, goats, and swine competitions, as well as competitions for giant vegetables, maple syrup, honey and beeswax, butter tarts, jams, jellies, pickles, field crops, and much more.

Animal Theatre

In the Royal’s Animal Theatre, animals take centre stage as they showcase their skills and playful antics. Get ready to be amazed by the precision and quick-thinking of border collies herding sheep with ease. Don’t miss the thrilling performances of the Global Pet Foods SuperDogs®, who leave spectators in awe with their impressive athletic skill and daring stunts.

Attractions

2019 – The Royal's Giant Pumpkin / Squash Challenge was won by Jane and Phil Hunt of Cameron, Ontario, for growing a 1,705-pound pumpkin
2019 – The Royal’s Giant Pumpkin / Squash Challenge was won by Jane and Phil Hunt of Cameron, Ontario, for growing a 1,705-pound pumpkin

Other attractions at The Fair include the Royal Rodeo, a square dancing competition, Farm & Play Zone, butter sculpture displays, the Culinary Academy, live entertainment and the Artisan Pavilion. Or stroll through the various areas to meet and get up close to real farm animals and chat with their farmers.

The 2023 Royal

Since the first Fair in 1922, the event has continued to grow and evolve while remaining a leader in agricultural practices and education. The 2023 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs from November 3rd to 12th in the Enercare Centre, the Coliseum Complex and the Horse Palace at Exhibition Place. It offers over 1 million square feet of fun for all ages.

Did You Know?

  • Many fairgoers say their first memory of The Royal was on a school trip.
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride has been a feature at the Fair since 1948.
  • In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II visited during her Golden Jubilee Year to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
  • The Royal took a six-year pause during World War II and, more recently, a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.
  • About 300,000 people visit the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair each year.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Photos

2022 – Advertising in the Farm and Dairy magazine for the first Royal Winter Fair from November 22 to 29, 1922, at the “Royal” Coliseum Toronto
2022 – Advertising in the Farm and Dairy magazine for the first Royal Winter Fair from November 22 to 29, 1922, at the “Royal” Coliseum Toronto (Courtesy of Diane Fraser)
1923 – Billboard advertising for the Royal Winter Fair "Spectacular Features - General Admission 25¢ - Reduced fares on all Railways - Royal Coliseum Toronto"
1923 – Billboard advertising for the Royal Winter Fair “Spectacular Features – General Admission 25¢ – Reduced fares on all Railways – Royal Coliseum Toronto” (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1968)
Circa 1927 - The Princes' Gates, which opened in 1927, displays a banner with "Royal Winter Fair Entrance" above the arch
Circa 1927 – The Princes’ Gates, which opened in 1927, displays a banner with “Royal Winter Fair Entrance” above the arch (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2022 - A Six-Horse Hitch performance during the Royal's Horse Show
2022 – A Six-Horse Hitch performance during the Royal Horse Show (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)
November 25, 1927 - Horseshoe meet at the Royal Winter Fair. In the photo are W Kane and WR Struthers of Sarnia, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario William Donald Ross (holding the trophy) and NJ Brown and N Coulter of Toronto
November 25, 1927 – Horseshoe meet at the Royal Winter Fair. In the photo are W Kane and WR Struthers of Sarnia, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario William Donald Ross (holding the trophy) and NJ Brown and N Coulter of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 12276)
November 22, 1929 - Maritime Apples - The Empire's Best float at the Royal Winter Fair (City of Toronto Archives
November 22, 1929 – Maritime Apples – The Empire’s Best float at the Royal Winter Fair (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 18679)
November 28, 1929 - Boy Scout ushers at the Royal Winter Fair
November 28, 1929 – Boy Scout ushers at the Royal Winter Fair (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 18759)
November 25, 1929 - Royal Winter Fair, Lord Willingdon with G. champ Jeremy Bull, group
November 25, 1929 – Royal Winter Fair, Lord Willingdon with G. champ Jeremy Bull, group (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 18693)
2022 – Cattle on display at The Royal in the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place
2022 – Cattle on display at The Royal in the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place
November 20, 1930 - Judging cattle in the ring at the Royal Winter Fair
November 20, 1930 – Judging cattle in the ring at the Royal Winter Fair (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 22579)
2023 - National Junior Beef Heifer Show in the Ring of Excellence at the Enercare Centre during The Royal
2023 – National Junior Beef Heifer Show in the Ring of Excellence at the Enercare Centre during The Royal
Between 1922 and 1940 - Apple display at the Royal Winter Fair
Between 1922 and 1940 – Apple display at the Royal Winter Fair (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 458)
Between 1937 and 1939 – Billboard advertising for the Royal Winter Fair "A Gem and a Joy - Horse Show & 15,000 Live Stock - Royal Coliseum - 25¢ Admits"
Between 1937 and 1939 – Billboard advertising for the Royal Winter Fair “A Gem and a Joy – Horse Show & 15,000 Live Stock – Royal Coliseum – 25¢ Admits” (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 5000)
1948 - A herdsman taking a sleep in the cattle barn with his animals
1948 – A herdsman taking a sleep in the cattle barn with his animals (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2019 – Highland cows at The Royal. The Scottish breed of cattle has long horns and a long, shaggy coat
2019 – Highland cows at The Royal. The Scottish breed of cattle has long horns and a long, shaggy coat
1949 - A young lady with calves, two of them in a car trunk
1949 – A young lady with calves, two of them in a car trunk (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2023 - A Belted Galloway, also known as Beltie, at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. These cows have a distinct appearance with its long coat that is entirely black except for the broad white belt around its body
2023 – A Belted Galloway, also known as Beltie, at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. These cows have a distinct appearance with its long coat that is entirely black except for the broad white belt around its body
1949 - Bernadine Daniel from Park School enjoying a prize-winning McIntosh apple
1949 – Bernadine Daniel from Park School enjoying a prize-winning McIntosh apple (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
Circa 1949 - A Percheron working horse at The Fair
Circa 1949 – A Percheron working horse at The Fair (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2023 - An award-winning Belgian mare in the Horse Palace ring at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2023 – An award-winning Belgian mare in the Horse Palace ring at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
1952 - Ruth Charles with Ireland and Suffolk seed samples
1952 – Ruth Charles with Ireland and Suffolk seed samples (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
1953 - Dog show exhibitors
1953 – Dog show exhibitors (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
1954 - A school group visiting The Royal
1954 – A school group visiting The Royal (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2023 - Award-winning long gourds at The Royal. The longest is 5 feet 2½ inches
2023 – Award-winning long gourds at The Royal. The longest is 5 feet 2½ inches
2019 – The Royal's Giant Pumpkin / Squash Challenge was won by Jane and Phil Hunt of Cameron, Ontario, for growing a 1,705-pound pumpkin
2019 – The Royal’s Giant Pumpkin / Squash Challenge was won by Jane and Phil Hunt of Cameron, Ontario, for growing a 1,705-pound pumpkin
1956 - 4H Clubs of Canada in a group photo in front of the main entrance to the Livestock Pavilions. This trio of doors was initially accessed from the south exterior. In a 1995 expansion, they became part of the interior of Heritage Court at Exhibition Place
1956 – 4H Clubs of Canada in a group photo in front of the main entrance to the Livestock Pavilions. This trio of doors was initially accessed from the south exterior. In a 1995 expansion, they became part of the interior of Heritage Court at Exhibition Place (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2023 - Award-winning wheat sheaves in stands by 4-H Canada. They were on display at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2023 – Award-winning wheat sheaves in stands by 4-H Canada. They were on display at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The Livestock Pavilion entrance at the east end of Heritage Court. The trio of doors in a stone portico was once part of the building’s exterior before being covered in the mid-1990s
2022 – The Livestock Pavilion entrance at the east end of Heritage Court. The trio of doors in a stone portico was once part of the building’s exterior before being covered in the mid-1990s
1957 - Guernsey triplet calves shown with Cameron Bourne and Doug Tickne
1957 – Guernsey triplet calves shown with Cameron Bourne and Doug Tickner (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
1957 - A flock of sheep
1957 – A flock of sheep (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2023 - Kay is the 2023 Ambassador of the Fair. She is a Polled Dorset ewe raised by the Brien family, who are descendants of J.D. Brien, one of the founding members of The Royal
2023 – Kay is the 2023 Ambassador of the Fair. She is a Polled Dorset ewe raised by the Brien family, who are descendants of J.D. Brien, one of the founding members of The Royal
2023 - Polled Dorset sheep in sheep blankets to help keep their wool clean. They are owned by the Brien family of Ridgetown, Ontario
2023 – Polled Dorset sheep in sheep blankets to help keep their wool clean. They are owned by the Brien family of Ridgetown, Ontario
1958 - 1st and 2nd place beef cattle, all from Alberta
1958 – 1st and 2nd place beef cattle, all from Alberta (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2022 – Horses in their stalls at the Horse Palace during The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Horses in their stalls at the Horse Palace during The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
1959 - Marlene Walters and Wally Hayter with the last two tickets to The Royal Horse Show. Wally was the chief ticket agent, and Marlene bought the last tickets
1959 – Marlene Walters and Wally Hayter with the last two tickets to The Royal Horse Show. Wally was the chief ticket agent, and Marlene bought the last tickets (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
1960 - Mrs GC Reeves and her 700-pound Yorkshire sow
1960 – Mrs GC Reeves and her 700-pound Yorkshire sow (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
1924 – Billboard advertising for the Royal Winter Fair "General Admission 25¢ - Spectacular Features - Royal Coliseum Toronto - Reduced fares on all Railways"
1924 – Billboard advertising for the Royal Winter Fair “General Admission 25¢ – Spectacular Features – Royal Coliseum Toronto – Reduced fares on all Railways” (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1987)
Circa 1962 - Unloading horses off a CN railcar
Circa 1962 – Unloading horses off a CN railcar (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Archives)
2022 – Looking down an aisle in the Horse Palace during the 100th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Looking down an aisle in the Horse Palace during the 100th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Horses in the box stalls in the Horse Palace at Exhibition Place. The photo was taken during The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Horses in the box stalls in the Horse Palace at Exhibition Place. The photo was taken during The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
1960s - Jim Day, 1000 winner in horse jumping competition at the Royal Winter Fair
1960s – Jim Day, 1000 winner in horse jumping competition at the Royal Winter Fair (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 2732)
2022 - Show Jumping during the Royal Horse Show
2022 – Show Jumping during the Royal Horse Show (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)
2023 - Medium Pony Hunter Stake competition in the Coca-Cola Coliseum during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2023 – Medium Pony Hunter Stake competition in the Coca-Cola Coliseum during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The Royal Horse Show in Coca-Cola Coliseum during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The Royal Horse Show in Coca-Cola Coliseum during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2019 – The 2019 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at Exhibition Place took place from November 1st to 10th
2019 – The 2019 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at Exhibition Place took place from November 1st to 10th
2022 - Framed ribbons from 1924 to 1936 on display at A Century of Champions Exhibit during the 100th Anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Framed ribbons from 1924 to 1936 on display at A Century of Champions Exhibit during the 100th Anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police during The Musical Ride at the Horse Palace. The RCMP Musical Ride was founded in 1887. The troop of up to 32 police officers and their horses perform complex formations and drills set to music. The photo was taken during The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police during The Musical Ride at the Horse Palace. The RCMP Musical Ride was founded in 1887. The troop of up to 32 police officers and their horses perform complex formations and drills set to music. The photo was taken during The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The standing stalls at the Horse Palace in Exhibition Place. The RCMP Musical Ride horses occupied these stalls during the 100th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The standing stalls at the Horse Palace in Exhibition Place. The RCMP Musical Ride horses occupied these stalls during the 100th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The exercise ring in the Horse Palace during the 100th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – The exercise ring in the Horse Palace during the 100th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2022 – Levelling the sand in the exercise ring at the Horse Palace during the 100th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. It took only 20 weeks to construct the Horse Palace in 1931
2022 – Levelling the sand in the exercise ring at the Horse Palace during the 100th anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. It took only 20 weeks to construct the Horse Palace in 1931
2019 – A black alpaca at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Alpacas are quiet, easy to care for and generally odour-free. Their soft fibre is used to create yarn, clothing, rugs and more
2019 – A black alpaca at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Alpacas are quiet, easy to care for and generally odour-free. Their soft fibre is used to create yarn, clothing, rugs and more
2023 - Kay is the 2023 Royal Ambassador. She is a year and a half old Polled Dorset yearling ewe making her first appearance last year at the 100th Anniversary Royal Gala, where she represented a century of sheep. Kay went on to win Reserve Champion in the 2022 Royal Sheep Show. Alongside her duties as Ambassador, Kay will also be competing in this year's Fair. She is owned by the Brien family of Ridgetown, Ontario
2023 – Kay is the 2023 Royal Ambassador. She is a year and a half old Polled Dorset yearling ewe making her first appearance last year at the 100th Anniversary Royal Gala, where she represented a century of sheep. Kay went on to win Reserve Champion in the 2022 Royal Sheep Show. Alongside her duties as Ambassador, Kay will also be competing in this year’s Fair. She is owned by the Brien family of Ridgetown, Ontario (Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)
2023 - Toronto-based singer, songwriter, guitarist and musician Craig McRae performing on the OLG Entertainment Stage in Heritage Court during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2023 – Toronto-based singer, songwriter, guitarist and musician Craig McRae performing on the OLG Entertainment Stage in Heritage Court during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
2023 - Giant carrots and other root vegetables at The Royal
2023 – Giant carrots and other root vegetables at The Royal
2023 - Entries and award winners of the Fleece Wool Competition
2023 – Entries and award winners of the Fleece Wool Competition
2022 – Hung in the main hall at Coca-Cola Coliseum are the Eureka Refrigerator doors from the refrigeration system that was in the Coliseum
2022 – Hung in the main hall at Coca-Cola Coliseum are the Eureka Refrigerator doors from the refrigeration system that was in the Coliseum
2021 – Looking northwest towards the entrance of Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. The facility is used by the CNE, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and various trade shows
2021 – Looking northwest towards the entrance of Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. The facility is used by the CNE, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and various trade shows
2022 - The heritage plaque reads:

In honoured memory of William Arthur Dryden  Born May 29, 1881 - Died November 18, 1949

First President of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 1919 – 1923 Managing Director 1936 – 1949

A great agriculturist. The devoted friend of farmer and breeder

This tablet was unveiled November 21, 1950, by His Excellency Field Marshal The Right Honourable.  The Viscount Alexander of Tunis, K.G., Governor–General of Canada.

Erected by The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

In honoured memory of William Arthur Dryden Born May 29, 1881 – Died November 18, 1949

First President of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 1919 – 1923 Managing Director 1936 – 1949

A great agriculturist. The devoted friend of farmer and breeder

This tablet was unveiled November 21, 1950, by His Excellency Field Marshal The Right Honourable. The Viscount Alexander of Tunis, K.G., Governor–General of Canada.

Erected by The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association
2022 - The heritage plaque reads: 

"In honoured memory of Alexander Pattullo Westervelt 
Born Dec. 3rd 1873 – Died July 28th 1936 

Manager of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 1922 – 1936 He served Canadian Agriculture in its highest branches with zeal and enthusiasm, contributed to its prosperity and by able administration was instrumental in placing the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in high rank among agricultural exhibitions on this continent. 

This tablet was unveiled November 20th 1936 by His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada the Right Honourable the Lord Tweedsmuir, G.C.M.G., C.H. in the presence of former associates and friends." 

Erected by the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association.
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

“In honoured memory of Alexander Pattullo Westervelt
Born Dec. 3rd 1873 – Died July 28th 1936

Manager of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 1922 – 1936 He served Canadian Agriculture in its highest branches with zeal and enthusiasm, contributed to its prosperity and by able administration was instrumental in placing the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in high rank among agricultural exhibitions on this continent.

This tablet was unveiled November 20th 1936 by His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada the Right Honourable the Lord Tweedsmuir, G.C.M.G., C.H. in the presence of former associates and friends.”

Erected by the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association.
2022 – The heritage plaque reads: Coliseum Complex, Exhibition Place G.F.W. Price, City Architect “The Coliseum, erected to showcase The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the agricultural programs of the Canadian National Exhibition, opened in 1921. With additions made in 1926, the complex ranked as the largest exhibition space under one roof in the world. Its towers and classical detailing complemented the Beaux Arts buildings at the west end of the exhibition grounds. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a recruitment centre, known as Manning Depot Number One, for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It has hosted a wide range of entertainment and sporting events and has served as a showplace for livestock and other farm products. Today, the Coliseum is part of the Metropolitan Toronto’s National Trade Centre, the largest trade and consumer facility in Canada.” Unveiled by HRH Prince Philip, K.G., K.T., The Duke of Edinburgh, November 5, 1996 Toronto Historical Board
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

Coliseum Complex, Exhibition Place G.F.W. Price, City Architect

“The Coliseum, erected to showcase The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the agricultural programs of the Canadian National Exhibition, opened in 1921. With additions made in 1926, the complex ranked as the largest exhibition space under one roof in the world. Its towers and classical detailing complemented the Beaux Arts buildings at the west end of the exhibition grounds. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a recruitment centre, known as Manning Depot Number One, for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It has hosted a wide range of entertainment and sporting events and has served as a showplace for livestock and other farm products. Today, the Coliseum is part of the Metropolitan Toronto’s National Trade Centre, the largest trade and consumer facility in Canada.”

Unveiled by HRH Prince Philip, K.G., K.T., The Duke of Edinburgh, November 5, 1996

Toronto Historical Board
2022 - The heritage plaque reads: 

"The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 80th Anniversary 

In recognition of the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her Golden Jubilee Year, and to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair"

October 9, 2002
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

“The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 80th Anniversary

In recognition of the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her Golden Jubilee Year, and to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair”

October 9, 2002
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