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Canadian Government Expositions Centre

Photograph of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visiting the Canadian Pavilion at the World's Fair, 1939
Source

This guide consists of a history and specific references to government sources on the Canadian Government Expositions Centre.

Established in 1901, the Canadian Government Exhibition Commission (re-named the Canadian Government Expositions Centre (CGEC) in 1976) was given the authority to purchase all exhibits shown in foreign expositions and to install them in a manner which gave the best impression of Canada as a whole. The CGEC reported to Parliament through many different departments, including Agriculture, Immigration and Colonization, Trade and Commerce, and Supply and Services. Among the major projects organized by the CGEC were the Canadian International Trade Fairs held in Toronto each spring from 1948 to 1955.

This guide was revised in September 2000.

1. History

Until 1901, participation in foreign exhibitions was carried out in co-operation with the various provinces. Each province prepared their own exhibits while the presentation was co-ordinated by the central government. This resulted in considerable duplication and similarity of exhibits and precluded any coherent presentation. In 1901, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and Minister of Agriculture Sydney Fisher established the Canadian Government Exhibition Commission as part of the Department of Agriculture. The "exhibition body" was given the authority to purchase all exhibits and to install them in a manner which gave the best impression of Canada as a whole.

By 1918, immigration was the main focus of the exhibitions and therefore leadership of the Exhibition Commission was transferred to the new Department of Immigration and Colonization. Gradually, however, trade and commerce overtook immigration as the focus of the Exhibitions and, in 1927, the Commission was transferred to the Department of Trade and Commerce.

Following the Second World War, exhibitions assisted in the re-establishment of trading patterns with former trading partners and the acquisition of new partners. The most successful vehicle for attracting trade proved to be the Canadian International Trade Fair held each spring in Toronto starting in 1948. The fair attracted trading partners, both old and new, but it quickly became more of an import rather than an export/import fair and therefore the last presentation was held in 1955.

The Exhibition Commission then shifted its focus back to Canada's participation in trade fairs abroad and in international expositions. The international expositions included Brussels in 1958, Expo '67 in Montreal, and Expo '70 in Osaka Japan.

In 1968, the Commission became a branch of the Department of Public Works. In 1970, with the establishment of Information Canada, the Commission became the Expositions Branch and later the Audio- Visual/Expositions Branch of that agency. Under Information Canada the Commission was run on a cost-recovery basis.

When Information Canada was disbanded in 1976, the Audio-Visual/Expositions Branch was transferred to the Department of Supply and Services and became known as the Canadian Government Expositions Centre (CGEC) where it was under the control of the Supply Administration.

In 1976, the CGEC was re-organized within the Department of Supply and Service. Director W.M. James completed his tenure that year and the Centre reported to the Minister through the Commercial Supply Service, which was part of the Supply Administration. Work within CGEC became increasingly focussed upon improved customer service and performance with greater financial and production controls implemented to aid in the achievement of a "break-even" objective. The CGEC also made greater efforts to purchase its supplies from the private sector.

In June 1986, the CGEC and the Canadian Government Film and Video Centre were consolidated to create the Canadian Government Expositions and Audio-Visual Centre. (CGEAVC)

The Canadian Government Expositions and Audio-Visual Centre and the Canadian Government Photo Centre were disbanded in the early 90s due to government-wide downsizing. The Canadian Government Photo Centre provided access to the CGEAVC's impressive photo collection.

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2. Archival References

Government Records

Records of the Canadian Government Exhibition Commission (RG 72)

The Canadian Government Exhibition Commission was the organization responsible for Canada's foreign exhibitions. During its long existence it was part of many different government departments.

Series: Numbered and Un-Numbered Registry Files, 1875-1971

(RG 72, vols. 1-583, 587)
(RG 72, acc. 1984-85/125, boxes 1-3)
Fair Participation files
(RG 72, acc. 1980-81/068, boxes 1-13)
Fair and Exhibition Participation files; administration, committees and International Bureau
(RG 72, acc. 1980-81/328, boxes 1-11)

Records of the Department of Agriculture (RG 17)

The Department of Agriculture was the first home of the Canadian Government Exposition Centre, from 1901 to 1918.

Sub-Series: International Exhibitions, 1853-1883

(RG 17, vols. 2308-2320, reels T-1289 to T-1291 (for vols. 2317-2320))

Records of the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce (RG 20)

The Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce was responsible for the Government Exposition Centre from 1927 to 1968.

Sub-Series: 1966 Central Registry System, 1950-1972

Various files documenting co-operation between the CGEC and different government departments and provinces.
(RG 20, vols. 1709-1710)

Sub-Series: Dormant Central Registry System, 1911-1966

Appreciation of work of CGEC
(RG 20, vol. 315)
Canadian International Trade Fair
(RG 20, vols. 1251-1252)
Fairs and missions; Exhibition Commission; London, England
(RG 20, vol. 1252)
Canadian International Trade Fair
(RG 20, vol. 1254)
Fairs and missions; Exhibition Commission; London, England, 1928-1929
(RG 20, vols. 1256-1257)
Fairs and missions; Canadian International Trade Fair
(RG 20, vol. 1258)
Co-operation of Exhibition Commission with other government departments
(RG 20, vol. 1352)

Sub-Series: Office of the Deputy Minister, 1892-1977. Sub-Sub-Series: Assistant Deputy Minister (Administration), 1892-1977

Transfer of Exhibition Branch to the Department of Trade and Commerce
(RG 20, vol. 1418)
Canadian International Trade Fair, 1946-1955
(RG 20, vol. 1421)
R.L. Greene (work history with CGEC, 1926-1962)
(RG 20, vol. 1422)
History of Canadian International Trade Fair
(RG 20, vol. 1423)
Canadian International Trade Fair
(RG 20, acc. 1985-86/665, box 62)

Records of the Department of Supply and Services (RG 98)

The Department of Supply and Services was home to the Exposition Centre from 1976 to 1986.

Canadian Government Expositions and Audio-Visual Centre, 1933-1983 (F)
(RG 98, acc. 1991-92/012, boxes 1-12)

Records of the Centennial Commission of Canada (RG 69)

The Centennial Commission of Canada worked on many projects with the Canadian Government Exposition Centre during Canada's centennial celebrations in 1967.

Series: Central Registry Files, 1960-1970

Canadian Government Exhibition Commission
(RG 69, vol. 21)

Series: Public Relations and Information Branch, 1963-1968. Sub-Series: Promotion Division

Exhibition Commission; Kaladar Avenue, Vic Rochford; exhibits and displays; Exhibition Commission contract reports, 1967
(RG 69, vol. 569)

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