Date: 1878

Origin: CNE Archives

The thirteenth Provincial Agricultural Exhibition of Upper Canada was held in Toronto in September, 1858. For this exhibition, an imposing permanent building was erected on the Toronto fairgrounds located south of what is now the Mental Health Centre on Queen Street. The new building was called the Crystal Palace, and it was similar to the larger “Crystal Palace” built by Joseph Paxton for the 1851 London Universal Exposition.

Toronto’s Crystal Palace was designed by Sir Collingwood Schreiber and Sir Sandford Fleming. The Palace was principally constructed of iron, glass and wood and was erected in ninety working days. When complete, its one full story and upper gallery enclosed 47,000 square feet of space. In 1878, Toronto again hosted the Provincial Agricultural Fair with the hope that the Fair would become permanently located in Toronto. To induce the Fair’s organizers to agree with this plan, Toronto City Councillors found a new, larger exhibition site on the shore of Lake Ontario. The Crystal Palace was dismantled and moved to this new fairground. Upon arrival, a second story was added to the building as well as a large Baroque-styled cupola. In the enlarged Crystal Palace there were two tiers of galleries, thirty-two feet wide in the central portion. These galleries were reached by eight separate staircases richly furnished with oak steps and balustrades. On the roof were 103 patented ventilators to circulate the air. The height of the building was 185 feet to the top of the flagstaff. On Thanksgiving Day of 1906 the Palace burned to the ground. A year later the Horticultural Building was erected on the same site.