View Counter

Friday, March 23, 2012

The CNE Mandala Miniature Memories

Many sample items were given out at the Ex in miniature form and I , and some people I have spoken with , remember them specifically.  I have composed a list of what I have found thus far.  Do you recall them or any others ?
  • Fry's Cocoa cans
  • Coca Cola bottles in a case
  • Coca Cola bottles
  • hot dogs for eating
  • Tiny Tom Donuts ( yes, once we got a free sample )
  • packages of cereal
I' m sure there were a lot more and I will continue to search for them.
For me, there is something intriguing about seeing and holding a miniature replica.
I believe it is an innate human trait wherein , in order to learn and internalize a concept, we have to actually
hold it as a toy, so to speak.
Board gamers use miniatures.  Throughout art history, one sees miniatures used in charms and toggles, etc. We always see architects, theatre stage designers, jewellers, clothing designers and those in many in other creative fields create a prototype and work with it until the final product is on paper and then eventually completed in life-size reality.
My mandalas are visual miniatures enclosed in a circle, a kind of microscopic overview with abstract and realistic features.
I wonder if the distribution of these miniatures at the Ex had any influence on any child' s future.   Especially a child who never had any toys back then.

For further info, please contact me at :

Friday, March 16, 2012

The CNE Mandala : A MicroCity in Itself

Looking at my CNE Mandala as it becomes more full day by day, I see the makings of a microcity within the GTA : fountains, a firehall and ambulance, entertainment, floral displays, Childrens' Lost and Found, history galore, and so on and so on.
People of all walks of life come to the fair mostly in their garb of choice.  Cowboy hats and boots adorn the stable hands and farmers in the Coliseum.
Young couples sometimes are in their Sunday best, no doubt to impress on an evening date.  Cameras in hand, people are  posing everywhere for that momentous perfect shot.
The difference between the GTA and this Microcity are the smiles on everyone' s face ( unless it is the first sunny day for a while in the GTA ).  It is a specimen city viewed under the microscope for all of us to examine, to take stock and remember how all the cogs are turning to make it work....for us.  This city is a gift created by our ancestors.  Try to remember all the ones who worked so hard to get it going in 1879.
I have added  in all the shapes and sounds and scents and how they melt together in harmony - the ferris wheel, the bandshell, the water spraying in the fountains, the symmetrical Princes' Gates, the prestigious older buildings, the corn-on-the-cob, the candy floss, the candy apples, the carillion many circles, which all in all are mandalas and they sweetly capture our hearts as we stroll along.

Can you guess what I have chosen as the centre of the CNE Mandala ?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ex is the Centre of the Universe !

No matter where you are coming from, it seems that all roads ( and sidewalks, for that matter ) lead to the
Ex ; for example :  GO Trains, TTC streetcars and buses, taxis, boats, bicycles, skateboards and motorbikes.
When the Ex is on , people come ( came ) in droves by foot and on every form of transportation.

In its 2 week or so duration, to many, the Ex is the Centre of the Universe.
It is a nostalgic trip for those like myself.  Even when some sites don' t exist anymore, we walk around recalling " how it used to be ".  Pretty sad, eh ?
Pretty sad how so many things aren' t there anymore.  I propose that the CNE bring back some of the old days.

(  And please, Mr. Tory, please don' t agree to demolish the Cinesphere.  I know it' s not exactly in the Ex, but  it's very near to it. We have lost so many town halls, and other important buildings around the city to developers.  For example, in Yorkville sits a parkette with a picture story map and legend where The Yorkville Town Hall used to be.  Thank goodness the original facade of the original Mount Sinai Hospital was saved at 100 Yorkville where an historical plaque also stands.  At least we are not standing there staring at a parkette where it used to be.  Couldn' t they at least have built a mini version of it ?  These and other lost buildings could be displayed in model form and created by students of architecture as an assignment.  I would love to see the opera house that once existed on the south east corner of  Bay and Adelaide, where Opera Lane scarcely peeks out at you as you walk by.  Please don't blink or you might miss it. )

Torontonians  love that jewel-by-the lake, that landmark filled ( pun unintended ) with so many memories of of lining up for movies seen on the huge screen. It is an architectural delight and should come with a blueprint for each child who visits it, so that a mini-geodesic dome could be built with his/her parents at home.
It' s very simple : dowels, plastic tubing, screws.  Buckminster Fuller would be so proud and I' m sure many a tear would be shed by him watching it being torn down, triangle by triangle.
The mini-version could be be easily dismanteled,  used as a tent, decorated, etc.,  and be part of the child' s daily routine, re: the responsibility of taking care of a home.  I saw one version in a school yard recently at Dundas and Denison Avenues in Toronto.  I'm sure the children enjoy it immensely, and at the same time they are so close to functional architecture.)

Pretty sad how so many sites and events aren' t there anymore.  I propose that the CNE bring some of the old days back.
How about :

a miniature walk- through garden of buildings which are extinct ; it could be a competition for florists and landscapers of Toronto, or students of the former and latter ?

a Marilyn Bell Theatre where we can watch footage of her swimming the lake and a short swimming safety film can be shown after with safety rule pamphlets distributed on the way out ; ( as a kid we followed the swim on the radio with a corn syrup company as the sponsor and my mom made it so exciting for us as it went onto the finish....we were so proud of Marilyn ! )  It would be wonderful if we had a Marilyn Bell Day to honor her and maybe she could be invited to drop by ?

Elsie the Cow and her son Beauregard in their boudoir ?

a History Lesson Tent with volunteer teachers, professors, instructors, or just plain folks presenting archival slides of historical memorable moments at the Ex since 1879 ?  asking  Torontonians to send in photos of past visits to the Ex ?

Honeydew drinks?

a dress-up day.....creating a costume that someone would wear in certain decades at the Ex with prizes?

more $1 and $ 2 samples of  food?

the water-ski show on the lake with the clowns and the champions skiing off the ramp ? ( Oh, how it made us laugh our heads off !!!! )

and the Bathtub and Pooch Races ?

Let' s put " exhibit " back in Exhibition.

Just brainstorming here.  Please add any of your ideas.
Remember, eople together bring endless possibilities !

My mandala has about a third of the way to go.  I have recently added a kewpie doll on a stick; a reminder of the Baby Contest that used to be; a carny at the ferris wheel and a hockey puck, stick and skate to represent the Hockey Hall of Fame ( now relocated to Front and Yonge Streets, Toronto ).  A part of this building was saved as the entrance to the Blizzard soccer stadium across from the Food Building.

Going to the Hockey Hall of Fame at the Ex and seeing the Stanley Cup and famous players' photos and equipment was a super duper amazing experience for my family and I , as we lined up ( for I can' t remember how long ), to get inside !
But we forgot how long we waited , as we faithfully all looked up in awe at " The Cup " !

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bathtub and so many other Races at the Ex over the years, do dah, do dah !

The Bathtub Races at the Ex began in 1969 and continued until 1986.  Why ? I have no idea.  : (
There was a Mayor' s Bathtub Race in1983 and it was a sporting event with Mayors Denison, Lastman and others.  It would be fun to have one this year with mayors from all over Canada participating , don' t you think.
There was also the Dog Swim and many marathon swimming races.
I' ve included symbolic representation of these three in my CNE Mandala which is progressing very well.
I' ll be adding an update presently.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CNE Mandala : My grandparents signed up for WW1 at the Coliseum

Way back in 1916, both of my grandfathers signed up for WW1 at the Coliseum in Toronto.
Off to war they went for 4 years, leaving loved ones behind.  Thank goodness they both returned, but never talked about the war.  I imagine that every time they went to the CNE and went into the Coliseum, they recalled that very day when they enlisted.
For many years after, my paternal grandad sold his eyeglass cleaner and aluminum silver cleaner at the Ex , the Sportsman Show, and The Royal Winter Fair. ( I remember seein my grandad filling the little gold-labelled white jars with the reddish cream right from the bathtub which was half full of the stuff. )
 Every year when we went to the Ex and the other shows, we would always stop by his booth, watch his amazing,  magical ( to us kids at the time ) demonstrations and and then receive an orange and a dollar to spend.
My Auntie Doris was always at the end of the booth with her lovely little lace bags of lavender for sale.
I can still see it all now !

 My CNE mandala will salute all the vendors/entrepreneurs who have worked so passionately over the century, hoping that their new ideas would  make a mark and make people happy with their new products .
  I know my grandfather' s did !!!