Date: 1920

Origin: CNE Archives

The Music Building began its service as the Railways Building. Constructed in 1907 as a joint project of the CNE, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway, the building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by G.W. Gouinlock. Each of the three equal-sized octagons which form the building are 54 feet in diameter and approximately 40 feet tall. On top of each octagon is a glazed, octagonal drum, surmounted by a shallow dome. The eight, thick buttresses radiating from the domes counterbalance the building’s lateral thrust. The exterior of the building is adorned with classical decorative motifs which give the building a festive appearance. These include a balustrade along the top of the main walls, a frieze beneath each dome and a variety of classical brackets, plaques and bosses.

Inside the Railways Building, the public was treated to the latest developments in rail transportation. In 1929, for example, the first run of a diesel electric train in North America travelled from Montreal to the CNE and the event was detailed inside the Railways Building. After the Second World War, the Railways Building ceased to function as a transportation pavilion. Between 1952 and 1961, the building became the centre of the new Hydro Exhibit highlighting hydro-electric energy advances in Canada. In 1961, the Ontario Medical Association used the building for an exhibit called “Mediscope” which focused on important new medical techniques. One year later, the building was home to “Vetiscope,” a veterinary display also featuring medical techniques such as repairing broken bones on domestic and farm animals. In 1968, the CNE Music Department moved into the building and, appropriately, it became known as the Music Building. Music competitions, Kiwanis Music festivals, ethnic dancing and popular fiddle contests were held here in front of huge crowds. Between 1985 and 1987, the Music Building was closed to the public. Then, on August 26, 1987, the Music Building was severely damaged by fire. Toronto residents rallied to save the building from demolition. A committee spearheaded by Sam Sniderman raised $500,000 of the $1.9 million needed for restoration. Subsequent grants from the Federal Government and the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto made the restoration of the Music Building possible.