Canadian National Exhibition. Agriculture Dept.

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Canadian National Exhibition. Agriculture Dept.

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Description area

Dates of existence



The Canadian National Exhibition, originally called the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, was founded in 1879 for the purpose of promoting agriculture, industry and the arts. From the outset, the agricultural events featured at the annual fair were administered by various committees. In the 1880s, for instance, there was a Horse Committee, a Cattle Committee, a Sheep and Pig Committee, an Agricultural Products Committee, and so on. Eventually, these committees were drawn together and coordinated by an overarching Agriculture Department.

Unfortunately, no unpublished records exist regarding the activities and achievements of the Agriculture Department prior to the Second World War. Researchers interested in agricultural events at the CNE before the 1940s should consult published records, such as the CNE programmes and annual reports. The CNE was closed from 1942 to 1946 when the grounds were used by the Canadian Military.

The records in RG 1 cover the period from 1946 to 1982. During this time the Agriculture Department's operations were extensive: it administered the annual CNE livestock shows and competitions; oversaw the rental of agricultural exhibit space in the Horticulture Building and the commercial exhibit space in the Coliseum; managed the Woodcarving Exhibit (from 1977 on) and several junior competitions; and organized the Miss CNE: Queen of the Fairs and Dairy Princess pageants. The department also communicated and worked with the Provincial and Federal Agriculture Ministries, with various national and international breed societies, as well as with local agricultural organizations. These societies and organizations contributed a large portion of the prize money and awards offered to competitors at the CNE.

The Department was, and still is, organized around various committees responsible for setting standards, rules and deadlines for competitions and exhibits, establishing prize money, adding, deleting and changing classes, classifications and prizes, communicating with outside organizations, and recommending judges, superintendents and veterinarians.

The members of the committees are drawn from the governing body of the CNE, the Canadian National Exhibition Association (CNEA), as well as from various societies and organizations with an interest in agriculture. The Manager of the Agriculture Department, an employee hired from outside the CNEA, was, and is, responsible for coordinating the Department's various efforts, and attends to general administrative duties. The manager also performs consultative work for other agricultural events such as the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

Managers of the Agriculture Department have been: Sam Foster (1943-1954), J.N. Perdue (1954-1968), Frank A. Wolff (1968-1971), John Wiley (1971-1972) and Ross T. Farr (1972-1982).

The Agriculture Department's responsibilities have undergone very few changes between 1946 and 1982. Since the early days of the CNE the agriculture program has provided one of the most important attractions of the annual fair, although agriculture itself has lost much of its significance in contemporary urban-industrial Canadian society.


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Control area

Authority record identifier

EX / CNE Agri

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  • EAC

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