This Is What It Was Like To Attend The PNE Over The Last 100 Years

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PNE

The PNE is one of Vancouver’s most recognizable attractions, drawing thousands of people every year. In fact, it is the region’s largest ticketed event; it continues to draw in excess of 900,000 visitors during its 15 days.

What’s more, the fair is over 100 years old. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier opened the attraction in 1910, and it put Vancouver on the map.

Back then, the fair was the second largest in North America. As such, it gave the city a global platform upon which to shine. It allowed the city to showcase its agriculture and economy in an engaging way.

RELATED: The Most Outrageous Food Coming To The PNE This Summer

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

The biggest attractions of the two-week fair are its numerous shops, stalls, performances, a nightly fireworks show, and the PNE Prize Home. Of course, guests also venture to Playland, where they can enjoy a vast number of rides as well as entertainment.

Playland’s beloved wooden roller coaster attraction opened in 1958. Today, the ride remains the most popular on the site and one of the most highly regarded wooden coasters in the world. When it opened, it cost 40 cents to ride.

PNE Evolution

When the fair was first opened, admission cost a mere 50 cents. Of course, at that time 50 cents was nothing to laugh at, but the fair didn’t raise that price until the mid ’60s.

Nowadays, an adult regular admission is a whopping $34 online and $37 at the gate.  Nevertheless, it continues to shine as one of the biggest summer attractions.

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

Numerous technological firsts have also debuted on the grounds, including the first rotary telephone in the Pacific Northwest, as well as aircraft and rocketry displays. In additon, many major consumer shows got their start as a part of the annual Fair. Specifically, the Vancouver Boat Show, the BC Home Show and the Pacific International Auto Show.

While the fair still presents some of the country’s finest livestock, it used to have some rather odd inclusions.

“There was Independence (the horse with the human brain), a flea circus and an award for the Sun Tan King and Queen (billed as a “health promotion”). Even ostrich races, in 1964,” reports The Province.

On a much darker note, the fair was temporarily shut down for five years during the World War 11. Specifically, the grounds were utilized as a processing centre for over 8,000 Japanese-Canadians. Afterwards, they were forced to move to the Interior.

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

PNE

Photo: Vancouver Archives

Interestingly, Playland was originally called “Happy Land” in 1926. Further, it remained on the original site until 1958. Afterwards, it moved to its present site and re-opened under the name, Playland.

Interested in more local history? Check out the fascinating history of Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park, as well as the story of how Science World came to be.

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