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The year the CNE first ran on Sundays and served alcohol, too

In 1968, for the first time, the Canadian National Exhibition ran seven days a week during its end-of-summer run.

For the first time in its 90-year run, fair was open 7 days a week and diners could enjoy a beer

In 1968 the CNE served liquor, and opened on Sunday

2 years ago
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For the first time in its 90-year history the Canadian National Exhibition ran on Sundays and one restaurant was licensed to serve liquor. 1:46

Back in 1968, visiting the Canadian National Exhibition on a Sunday was as novel as some of the midway thrills, Grandstand spectacles and modern home displays in the Better Living Centre.

That's because for the first time in its 90-year history, visitors could spend a Sunday afternoon and evening at the fair.

To top it all off, one of the CNE's restaurants was also licensed to sell liquor. 

There still was some disappointment among "imbibers," though, as Jeff Hussey discovered for this Aug. 18, 1968 CBC News report.

'A long way to go in the liquor department' 

One restaurant at the CNE was granted a liquor licence in 1968. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

"The CNE still has a long way to go in the liquor department," he said, because some visitors wanted to be able to drink alcohol at the international exhibits as well.

Hussey paid a visit to the Stoodleigh Tavern Restaurant, which was located in the Grandstand building, to talk to the manager there about the new offering on the menu.

Business on that Sunday did not seem overly brisk, Hussey said, and he asked the manager, Mr. Barber, why that was.

"Well, this is the first Sunday the exhibition has been open," the manager commented, noting that "it has to do with the pocketbook, as well as the people themselves."

As Hussey pointed out, outside the restaurant, was John. Q. Public, who, if he brought his kids, might have to spend a minimum of $10 on a meal, so it was possible that "the average family man might not be able to buy his beer."

3 million visitors

CNE visitors at the Alpine Way ticket booth in 1968 (CBC News/CBC Archives)

The next day, the Globe and Mail reported the Sunday opening as a success, with an estimated 167,500 entering the turnstiles. 

Overall attendance by the time the fair closed Sept. 2, totalled 3,248,000 with the addition of the three Sundays and a preview day, according to a Sept. 3 report in the Globe.

Age-of-majority customers were not the only customers being offered something new that year.

On Opening Day, Hussey reported that "the Ex this year ... is more expensive and, in the vernacular of youth, more turned on," with a special "multi-media" show for the teen set.

'Sound, light, colour and excitement'

In 1968 the CNE put on a show for the teen set

2 years ago
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"Sound, light, colour and excitement" were on offer for teens at the Canadian National Exhibition. 0:35

The "teen action for this year" he continued, was in the Automotive Building, at a show called "Time Being."

It was billed by the CNE, Hussey explained, as "a gigantic mixture of sound, light, colour and excitement."

There, they could experience the Conditioning Chamber, which one teen had explained to Hussey "opens your head a bit."

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