Gouinlock Buildings / Early Exhibition Buildings National Historic Site of Canada
© Agence Parks Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, B. Morin, 1996.
Saskatchewan Road, Canadian National Exhibition / Exposition nationale canadienne, Toronto, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1904 to 1912
Event, Person, Organization:
Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada
The Industrial Exhibition Association of Toronto
The Canadian National Exhibition
Canadian Pacific Railway Company
George W. Gouinlock
Gouinlock Buildings / Early Exhibition Buildings
Music Building, Horticulture Building, Press Building, Fire Hall and Police Station, Government Building
Early Exhibition Buildings
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Mounted on post in front of Press Buildling - CNE Saskatchewan Road, Toronto, Ontario
These five buildings - the Press (1904), Music (1907), Horticulture (1907), Government (1912), and the Fire Hall and Police Station (11912) - are the largest and finest group of early 20th century exhibition buildings in Canada. Designed by G. W. Gouinlock, they reflect the influence of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition of Chicago in their creative classical decoration and ordered integration to a site plan. The first permanent exhibition buildings in Toronto, they are an impressive reminder of the Canadian National Exhibition as the major industrial and agricultural fair of the period.
Description of Historic Place
The Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings National Historic Site of Canada is a group of five buildings built in the early 20th century as part of Toronto's permanent exhibition grounds. They include the Press Building (1904, formerly known as the Administrative Building), the Music Building (1907, formerly known as the Railways Building, the Hydro Building, and the Career Building), the Horticulture Building (1907), the Government Building (1912, sometimes known as the Arts Crafts & Hobbies Building) and the Fire Hall/Police Station (1912). While the first four buildings were built in the Beaux-Arts Baroque style, the Fire Hall/Police Station is more eclectic in design. The buildings are clustered in a rough semi-circle at the western end of the Canadian National Exhibition, grounds, close to Toronto's waterfront. They are surrounded by more recent exhibition buildings of varying sizes and styles. The formal recognition refers to the five buildings on their footprints.
The Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings were designated a national historic site of Canada in 1988 because these five buildings are the largest and finest group of early 20th century exhibition buildings in Canada.
The Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings are the only surviving examples of a group of fifteen exhibition buildings designed by Toronto architect George W. Gouinlock as part of a comprehensive plan for the Industrial Exhibition of Toronto. Erected between 1902 and 1912 in the Beaux-Arts Baroque style, the buildings are integrated within a carefully planned and articulated site, that emphasizes the entrance to each building as well as the physical relationships between them. These characteristics were influenced by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition of Chicago. The Horticulture Building (1907), surrounded by attractively landscaped open spaces at the front and rear of the building, formed the focal point of Gouinlock's plan. The Government Building was built to house federal government exhibits. The Press Building, originally known as the Administrative Building, was built to emulate formal public buildings of the time. The Music Building (1907), originally known as the Railways Building, was built as an exhibition pavilion for the Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk railway companies
Prompted by the federal government's plan to sponsor a major exhibition at the site in 1903, and inspired by the Chicago exposition, the Toronto City Council decided to rebuild the exhibition site. The building campaign transformed the Industrial Exhibition of Toronto, as it was then known, from a makeshift collection of temporary buildings into a sophisticated complex of elaborately designed, permanent exhibition pavilions set in an attractively landscaped site. The building project reflected the development of the Toronto exhibition from a 19th-century municipal fair into a nationally recognized exhibition of industrial, manufacturing and agricultural development. At the conclusion of the building campaign, the name was officially changed to the Canadian National Exhibition.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1988.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings as a group include: the permanent nature of their construction, including the use of fireproof materials; the relationship between the five buildings, including their physical proximity, their similar style and materials, and viewscapes between the buildings.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Government Building include: its Baroque classical style, evident in its form, composition and detailing; its E-shaped plan and one-storey height; its formal, symmetrical composition; its large, central, glazed dome and flanking towers; its structural steel construction and red-brick exterior; its decorative detailing, executed in white stone using a classical vocabulary.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Horticulture Building include: its Baroque classical style, evident in its form, composition and detailing; its E-shaped plan and one-storey height; its formal, symmetrical composition; its large, central, glazed dome; its decorative detailing, executed in white stone using a classical vocabulary; its relationship to its site, including: its orientation facing the lake; and the open landscaped plaza to the south of the building; its role as the principal landmark of the western end of the exhibition grounds.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Press Building include: its Baroque classical style, evident in its form, composition and detailing; its rectangular plan and two storey height; formal, symmetrical composition and regularly placed openings; its brick exterior and artificial stone trim; its fanciful, classically inspired detailing.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Music Building include: its Baroque classical style, evident in: the massing of the domes; and the decorative detailing; its trefoil plan, comprised of three equal-sized octagons, each topped by a glazed octagonal drum, and surmounted by a shallow dome; its structural design, comprised of eight, thick, steel ribs springing from the angles of the drums and carrying the weight of the dome, and eight buttresses radiating from each drum to counterbalance the lateral thrust; the functional use of window openings to maximize exhibition space and provide abundant natural light, achieved through: the placement of windows at the upper level of the walls, and the placement of windows in the octagonal drums; its three wide entranceways, allowing access to the building on all sides; its construction of structural steel, artificial stone and red brick.
Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Fire Hall/Police Station include: its eclectic, Arts-and-Crafts-inspired design; its rectilinear clock tower; its brick exterior, detailed with contrasting colours and textures; its Tudor detailing, executed in wood and stucco; its wide entranceways, allowing easy access to the building for people and vehicles.