Late August, the weather starts to get cool and rainy in Toronto. People know it's time for the CNE, the "Canadian National Exhibition", the "Ex", the biggest and longest running annual fair in the world.
Gone are the glory days of the CNE. Gone is the "Alpine Way" cable car ride that took you over the grounds from one end to the other. Long gone are the generous free samples at the food building. And gone is Exhibition Stadium, where the Argos and Blue Jays played, and where every night concerts entertained CNE visitors.
But other favorites remain, such as the horticulture building, the midway, Ontario Place, the arts and crafts building, and the bandshell. The horse show still runs every day of the CNE. And, if the sky is clear, hordes of people go on the last weekend to see the air show.
It's become somewhat fashionable for people to proudly declare that they've never been to the CNE. But we still enjoy spending a day at the Ex each summer, throwing away some money on the midway, shopping through the international building, pigging out at the food building, and at the end of a busy day relaxing in the coliseum to watch the horse show.
The CNE runs for about 18 days ending on Labor Day. The Air Show takes place on the last three days. The Cat Show usually takes place on the second weekend. There is parking nearby, but it fills up quickly. Most people get to the CNE using the TTC. Streetcars run directly into the exhibition grounds leaving from the Bathurst and Union subway stations. GO trains also stop right at the exhibition, but the service is much less frequent - one train per hour in each direction.