25 vintage photos of Playland and the PNE’s first half-century

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Hot dogs, ice cream cones, prize homes, livestock, midway games, rides, and crowds are all staples of “the fair.”

In 1910 Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier officially opened the first annual Pacific National Exhibition, known at the time as “The Industrial Exhibition.” A lot has changed since then, and, then again, a lot has remained the same.

Crowds gather to watch the opening of the first PNE, 1910 (Vancouver Archives)

Playland’s rides are still giving kids young and old a thrill from day into night, and The Fair at the PNE still draws people from around the province to enjoy displays focusing on industry, nature, agriculture, and more–plus live music, family fun, and tons and tons of food.

Check out these images from the Vancouver Archives and the Vancouver Public Library that show a slice of life from Playland and the PNE from its first half-century (and some), from 1910 to 1965.

1911 display at the PNE (Vancouver Archives)
Politician John Oliver eats an ice cream cone at the PNE in 1916 (Vancouver Public Library)
PNE livestock barns, 1922 (Vancouver Public Library)
PNE dancehall, 1928 (Vancouver Public Library)
Opening of the PNE, 1928
Butter carving at the PNE, 1933 (Vancouver Archives)
Aerial view of Hastings Park and the PNE/Playland grounds, 1936 (Vancouver Archives)
Chute the Chutes ride, 1936 (Vancouver Archives)
Kids’ rides, 1936 (Vancouver Archives)
Midway, 1936 (Vancouver Archives)
Sideshow, 1936 (Vancouver Archives)
The PNE and “Happyland” rides, 1940 (Vancouver Archives)
Playland at night in 1947 (Vancouver Public Library)
Playland ride, 1950s (Vancouver Public Library)
The giant roller coaster at Playland in the 1950s (Vancouver Public Library)
Centrifugal Force Ride at P.N.E. Playland in the 1950s (Vancouver Public Library)
The Carousel at Playland in the 1950s (Vancouver public Library)
The PNE prize home, 1950s (Vancouver Public Library)
Roller coaster at Playland, 1960 (Vancouver Public Library)
PNE and Playland grounds, 1960 (Vancouver Public Library)
Floral display at the PNE, 1961 (Vancouver Archives)
PNE and Playland grounds, 1961 (Vancouver Public Library)
At the PNE, 1963 (Vancouver Archives)
Crowds inside the Pure Foods building, 1965 (Vancouver Archives)

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, and the co-host and co-producer of the Vancouver Is Awesome Podcast. A fifth generation Vancouverite and life-long foodie, Lindsay also serves as a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of LAist.com, in her past life in L.A. she earned an MA in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancouverisawesome.com // Twitter/Instagram: @squashblossom