Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toronto Sportsmen's Show Moving to New Digs

It hit me like a hammer; the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show is moving! That’s right folks after 63 years at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds Southern Ontario’s largest outdoors show, the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, is moving to the Toronto Convention Centre.

I’m going to give this a while to sink in before wading in with my personal opinions of the move but I’m sure there will not be many fence sitters when it comes to the new venue. For those in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) the Convention Centre is very accessible and convenient for those that use public transit. For those of us coming from out of town it’s nothing more than a logistical nightmare. Oh well, decisions are made and this was likely not a knee-jerk reaction.

For now let’s take a trip down memory lane.

The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show has been a part of my life for just about as long as I can remember, so that means that I’m only a few years shy of having been there from the beginning. My grandparents lived in the east end of Toronto when I was growing up so events like the Sportsmen’s Show provided a great, low cost way for my parents to keep us kids amused for a few hours when we made the trip from Wingham to the big city.

Up until a few years ago the Toronto Sportsman’s Show occupied the Coliseum building at the CNE. Although the larger venue provided by the Direct Energy Building was greatly needed, it did in my opinion, loose all of its character and became just another show when the move took place.

Some of my fondest memories are of jostling crowds, the smell of hay in the arena, creaking floorboards, and a multitude of stairways and hidden corridors. And then there was the ever present smell of pipe smoke. Those were the days when Brigham pipes used to sell their factory seconds for a very cheap price and were set up right across the aisle from a tobacco vendor. No, I’m not a smoker and certainly don’t advocate smoking, but that was a different era and like everyone else I became a pipe smoker for a day. To this day the smell of pipe smoke conjures up images of camping supplies, fishing tackle, and creaking floors.

I remember buying my first upscale fishing rod there; it was a Berkley Bionix and when you bought one you got a Berkley Lightning Rod for free. I never did care for the Bionix, but the Lightning Rod has accompanied me on every fishing trip since the mid 70’s and has landed – and lost – tons of fish.

Over the years we have bought tents, backpacks, fishing tackle, and every new gadget on the market. You know, now that I think of it the move to the Convention Centre may not be that much of a stretch. The move from the Coliseum for me was like loosing an old, albeit smoky, friend.

The great outdoors is still very much alive in Southern Ontario and the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, regardless of the venue, will always be a memorable part of it.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

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