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Remember This? 160 years of the Great Northern Exhibition

This GNE memory will take you back to 1914 and the days of animal sideshows.
Huron Institute No. 53, Collingwood Museum Collection X970.539.1

On the weekend of September 24-25, 1914, local crowds gathered for one of the region’s longest running agricultural traditions: the Great Northern Exhibition (GNE).

This week's Remember This photograph captures one of the weekend’s sideshows which included a number of dogs and a chimpanzee. If you look closely, you’ll see four dogs perched atop stools around the stage’s perimeter. The figure on the tricycle near centre stage is recorded to be a chimpanzee. Other popular events included a plowing match, horse races, livestock showings, a midway, fireworks, and lots of prizes for crafts and baking. All of these exciting events took place within Collingwood’s Exhibition Park, now home to the Collingwood Curling Club, YMCA, and Central Park Arena.

The Great Northern Exhibition was first organized in 1855 and held in a farmer’s field in Bowmore, now Duntroon. In 1863, the organizing committee moved the fair to Collingwood’s Exhibition Park on Hume Street where it stayed until 1984. At this time, the fair moved to its current location at 2220 Fairgrounds Road. This year’s fair will take place September 21-23, 2018.

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.