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Coliseum (1922)

15 Nov 2015
Image Credit: Postcard of the interior of the Coliseum during livestock judging, CNE Archives, 1925
Architectural Credit: George Frederick W. Price
Built in 1922 to hold livestock presentations and the Royal Horse Show, the Coliseum was a joint effort between the Canadian National Exhibition and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. When finished, the Coliseum was said to be the largest structure of its time in North America. Additions were made in 1926 which made the complex the largest exhibition space under one roof in the world. Its towers and classical detailing complemented the Beaux Arts buildings at the west end of the Exhibition grounds.

Horse judging in the Coliseum, 1940, CNE Archives

The original structure was designed by architect George Frederick W. Price (1867-1924), City Architect for Toronto between 1920 and 1924. Price, who would oversee the design of several of Toronto’s public buildings, had previously practiced in the offices of some of the most recognized architects of the time, including William G. Storm and E.J. Lennox (where he oversaw the construction and completion of the Toronto’s Old City Hall).

The Coliseum has gone numerous renovations in its 93 year history, including reorienting the main entrance from the northern side to the southern façade of the building, and the removal of the southern façades cupola towers in 1963. The most recent renovations were completed in 2003 by PCL Constructors Canada Inc. and their design/build consultants Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects, Parkin Architects, and structural engineers Yolles. The renovations included a new, higher roof which improved sightlines, expanded seat capacity, and the ability to turn the arena into an ice rink. This last change has allowed the Coliseum to be the official home of the Toronto Marlies since 2005.

Royal Horse Show, Percheron Lady's Cart Competition, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, 2015, photo credit.: J. Leon

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