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Annie Oakley came to Collingwood's fair in 1898 ... maybe

In their research on a former grandstand structure at Collingwood's Central Park, museum staff found an account that put Annie Oakley at Collingwood's fair in 1898

Today's museum mystery uncovers a semi-reliable account of an 1898 fair featuring the famous sharp-shooter Annie Oakley. 

It's information Collingwood's museum staff came across while looking into the history of a multi-level grandstand that once stood at what is today known as Central Park.

From this grandstand, Collingwood residents witnessed numerous horse races during the annual agricultural fair. This simple structure is visible in the background of today’s featured photograph. A closer view is available in Photograph 2.

Members of Collingwood’s Cadet Corps are standing in the foreground during an inspection on June 10, 1913. For information about Collingwood’s Cadets have a look at a previous Remember This article called Cadets Go Marching to the Square.

Numerous photographs in the Collingwood Museum’s collection appear to have been taken from the grandstand; however, very few photographs show the structure itself.

Staff were unsuccessful in determining the structure’s exact location as the early Fire Insurance Plans (1904-1917) do not include the Hume Street property.

A 1919 aerial photograph of Collingwood (Photograph 3) shows the large racing track that once circled the property, now Central Park. The grandstand, however, appears to be hidden by the many trees lining the property’s perimeter.

In Reflections: An Historical Anthology, Scotty Carmichael writes of activities that directly relate to the grandstand.

“The [fair’s] attractions included a match harness race between "Shipyard Joe," a Collingwood pacer owned by Paddy Stone and driven by Joe Welsh, and a Toronto horse named Calumet. Ten thousand dollars was bet on the race and Shipyard Joe took Calumet in three straight heats…The grandstand show saw such international acts as Leanora, the Floating Wonder, America’s greatest steel wire act. The Robertson Boys – trapeze artists known worldwide; the ballet troop of Manilla; Traumer the clown juggler; Cap and Abright – greatest tumblers of that era, Damus Braun – the fearless German high wire artist. Music by the London Band, Annie Oakley – the sharpshooter, Harold Knapp – the world champion bronco buster and truck rider. And the whole show was topped off by two hours of fireworks under the direction of Professor Hands himself.”

Scotty Carmichael was known for his lively and often embellished accounts of Collingwood’s history. At the time of printing, staff were unable to verify if Annie Oakley was actually in attendance at the 1898 fair. The identity of “Professor Hands” and the accuracy of the two-hour fireworks display are also unknown.

If you have any information to share about today’s featured photographs, please contact Collingwood Museum staff at [email protected].

Remember This is a weekly series of historic photographs submitted by the Collingwood Museum to These photographs were originally collected and documented by the Huron Institute in an historical catalogue entitled Huron Institute Paper and Records: Volume III. Much of Collingwood’s early history has been preserved due to the dedication and foresight of the early museum’s founders, namely its secretary-curator David Williams, upon its establishment in 1904.