Putting the whee! in CNE for over 50 years

Leg­endary rides that prove time re­ally does fly when you’re hav­ing fun

Richmond Hill Post - - Looking Back - By Samantha Peksa

Head­ing to the CNE to scarf down some Tiny Tom Donuts and try­ing to keep them down while scream­ing the day away on a roller coaster is as much a Toronto tra­di­tion as tun­ing into the Maple Leafs on a Satur­day night or sit­ting in traf­fic on, well, pretty much any sum­mer day.

Come Aug. 15, the Cana­dian Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion, Canada’s largest an­nual fair, will open its gates for the 136th time since it was first founded in 1879. Since its hum­ble be­gin­nings, the CNE has wowed gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion with its freak shows, death-de­fy­ing acts and thrilling mid­way rides.

The bearded ladies are, sadly, a thing of the past. Build­ings have also come and gone: the Grand­stand (later Ex­hi­bi­tion Sta­dium), Crys­tal Palace and Shell Tower, to name but a few. And of course, many of the rides and roller coast­ers that zigged and zagged their way into our hearts are no longer stand­ing.

The Flyer, built in 1953, was once ad­ver­tised as the “fastest flyer in the world,” reach­ing speeds of up to 65 miles an hour. It was 2,612 feet in length, 62 feet in height and ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing over 26,000 scream­ing people daily. To­day, it is not un­heard of for a roller coaster to top speeds of 100 miles an hour, but in the ’50s, it would have been a huge feat. Of course, as newer and faster rides came onto the scene, the Flyer’s ag­ing wooden frame lost favour with the thrill-seek­ing pub­lic, and the CNE said good­bye to it in June 1992.

The Alpine Way, which opened in 1966, was unique in North Amer­ica. Built by the Bridge & Tank Com­pany of Canada and op­er­ated by Con­klin Shows (now North Amer­i­can Mid­way En­ter­tain­ment), its two aerial lines of sus­pended ca­ble cars ran for half a mile through the Ex. It was 31 me­tres high, and it cost roughly $710, 000. Un­for­tu­nately, it was torn down in 1994 to make room for the Na­tional Trade Cen­tre (now the Di­rect En­ergy Cen­tre). The sky ride now stands in trib­ute to the Alpine Way.

Once the Ex’s most iconic ride: the Zip­per, in­tro­duced in 1967 (built by Chance Man­u­fac­tur­ing), was 57 feet tall, with 12 free-flip­ping cars, and it op­er­ated at 7.5 rpms. To­day, it is still amongst the CNE’s most pop­u­lar thrills, with up­wards of 1,500 rid­ers daily.

The CNE runs Aug. 15 to Sept. 1, www.theex.com.

The Zipper (an ex­hil­a­rat­ing take on the Fer­ris wheel) is a clas­sic ride that is still counted as one of the CNE’s most pop­u­lar thrills

L-R: The first run of the Flyer in 1953, an aerial shot of the Flyer and the Sky Ride

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.