Date: 1964

Origin: Photo: York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC06901
Text: CNE Archives

The Canadettes

When Jack Arthur began producing and directing the Grandstand spectaculars in 1951, he tried to keep the balance of his shows Canadian. To that end, he organized the Canadettes for the 1952 show and chose his wife, Midge, to be their choreographer. Billed as the longest chorus line in the world, the 1952 Canadettes contained sixty women. By 1967, budget restrictions had cut the number, but Midge Arthur was still able to produce an impressive display of chorus work with only thirty-two dancers. The Canadettes would begin practice three weeks before the opening of the CNE. Rigorous rehearsals were held outside for seven hours each day and everyone endured rain, cold, and heat one year, the soles of the dancers‚ shoes melted in the 110F temperatures. Training the dancers was a task that demanded both patience and originality. During the Canadettes‚ sixteen-year existence, Midge Arthur was responsible for teaching the dancers a correct semaphore drill for a number that honoured the opening of the Seaway. As well, Midge took lessons in traffic signals from a constable. After drilling her dancers so well, Toronto‚ chief of police teased that she might also drill his force.