Tomorrow is the start of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
People have many feee-eeelings about the CNE. It’s the harbinger of the end of summer. It’s a tradition, a last hurrah in the dying days of summer before you have to buckle down to whatever your September brings. Many years ago, I went with my grandfather and my mom. We parked by the baseball diamonds, and watched part off the tournament while my grandfather had a frosty beverage with his picnic lunch. Another time, I watched Parachute Club and the Spoons at the band shell while he and my dad discovered Upper Canada Brewery.
Later, I went with friends, and spent equal amounts of time in the Food Building, the Midway, and the old Exhibition Place for a Jays game. Then there was the unfortunate Ontario Place Attack Swan incident when my friend swore that if we paddled over to the swan, it would be fine – right up until the Swan bit his toe. Birkenstocks are not your friend in a paddle boat.
Later again, I went with Mike and Connor. We watched a sheep get sheared in The Farm. One year, my sister’s Champ puppets were featured as part of a Sheraton College exhibition in the Better Living Center. Connor and I attended the Warriors’ Day Parade, and then he spent hours talking to CAF members, trying to narrow down his potential life trajectories.
The evenings would end with caramel apples and Tiny Tim donuts, and walking back to the parking lot or toward the Go Train station. In the background, all day, there was the music of the midway. It didn’t change that much, really: Surfer Music, Motown, and 70’s arena anthems. Maybe there’s more CardiB and Brothers Osbourne now, but I don’t hear it. I’m still nostalgic for my Magic Carpet Ride.
So, in honour of the start of the 139th CNE, I give you, The Midway: