Origin: CNE Archives, 1929 Programme
By the 1920s, engineering achievements and hydroelectric technology had become important factors shaping Canadian life. It was only natural that the CNE constructed a building devoted to these twin forces. One year after completing the Princes’ Gates, the architectural firm of Chapman and Oxley was given the contract to design the Electrical and Engineering Building.
Like other Chapman designs throughout Toronto, the Electrical and Engineering Building was constructed of “artificial stone,” or poured concrete. Eight magnificent statues, also made of concrete, and crafted by Charles McKechnie, lined the large colonnade of the building.
Inside the Electrical and Engineering building, anything utilizing electricity — stoves, vacuums, irons — could be found on display and for sale. In later years, this building was to serve several different roles (see below), and endure several false facades covering its columned entrance.
In desperate need of repair, the Electrical and Engineering Building was demolished in 1972.
Some of the carved figures and ornamental pieces from the building were salvaged and incorporated into the Toronto Free Theatre’s front door steps on Berkeley Street. Other statues are in storage on the grounds of Exhibition Place. Four of the eight statues from the colonnade of the Electrical and Engineering Building are now located in Heritage Court, in the Enercare Centre (formerly the Direct Energy Centre).