100 Years of the PNE & Playland Contest

Monday, May 10th, 2010 — 11:30am PDT
Comments 164

The Pacific National Exhibition or PNE will be celebrating 100 years this summer. From livestock, pig races, demolition derbies, and the “As Seen on TV” marketplace, to cotton candy, fried onions, mini donuts and The Mousetrap, it’s a Vancouver tradition. While the PNE won’t be around for its limited engagement until summer is in full swing, Playland is now open on weekends.

  • 1910: The first Vancouver Exhibition was launched. The exhibition and agricultural fair saw 5,000 people on opening day, each paying the 50 cent admission. According to Vancouver History, “over the next 10 days, some 68,000 people attended… …and for the next two decades the Vancouver Exhibition was the second largest in North America after New York City’s.”

  • 1910 – Procession for the opening of the first Vancouver Exhibition, Granville & Dunsmuir
    ITEM #: CVA 7-105, Photographer: Quiney, James L.
  • 1915: The Vancouver Exhibition became a permanent structure at Hastings Park. In 1915 it was also the first time the fair offered up major prizes (totally $50,000).

  • (Left) 1918 Exhibit ITEM #: CVA 99-646 (Right) 1925 Exhibit ITEM #: CVA 99-3556
    Photographer: Stuart Thomson

    (Left) 1918 – Women’s Building (Right) 1925 – Inside Women’s Building
    ITEM #: CVA 99-645, ITEM #: CVA 99-3560
    Photographer: Stuart Thomson
  • 1926: Happyland opens.

  • 1929 – Entrance gate to the Vancouver Exhibition and Happyland on Renfrew
    VPL Accession Number: 7925
    Photographer / Studio: Frank, Leonard

    1931 – Pure Foods Building
    ITEM #: Bu N508, Photographer: Moore, W.J.
  • 1934: The PNE gave away its first prize home (valued at $5,000).
  • 1936: The Parker Carousel from Kansas City (built in 1912) was bought by Happyland at the PNE and made its way to Vancouver.
  • 1947: It was announced that one of Happyland’s main attractions, the Giant Dipper, would be torn down in order to make room for an expanding race track at Hastings Park.
  • 1947: The Vancouver Exhibition was renamed the Pacific National Exhibition.
  • 1942 to 1946: The PNE was closed and like the Canadian National Exhibition served a military training facility for the duration of World War II. [wiki]

  • 1940s – Line up at the Giant Dipper, Happyland
    ITEM #: CVA 1184-1219, Photographer: Jack Lindsay
  • 1957: Happyland was demolished. The Parker Carousel went into a pavilion at the PNE.
  • 1958: The largest roller coaster in Canada was built at the PNE grounds. Playland opens up on a new site (not the old Happyland location).

  • 1950s – VPL Accession Number: 41011
    Photographer / Studio: Province Newspaper
  • 1962: PNE attendance passes the one million mark.
  • 1963: The 8,000-seat Agridome opened at the PNE. [VancouverHistory]
  • 1971: The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame opened in the B.C. Pavilion at the PNE.
  • 1972: The pavilion that housed the Parker Carousel was demolished so the carousel was put outdoors and brought in at the end of the season.
  • 1989: The Parker Carousel was purchased by the City of Burnaby and now resides at the Burnaby Village Museum.
  • 1993: Playland became a division of the PNE.
  • The Continued Quest For Fun
    2009 – Photo credit: Jody Taylor on Flickr

    For updates and information about this year’s attractions at Playland or the 100th anniversary celebrations at the PNE you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

    If you would like to check out Playland, I have a couple of passes to give away. Playland is currently open Saturday, Sundays, & Holidays (10:00am – 6:00pm) until it expands its summer hours in June.

    Here’s how to enter to win one of two 4-packs of passes:

  • Leave a comment on this post (2 entries)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
    Enter to win a 4-pack of passes to Playland from @Miss604 & @pne_playland http://ow.ly/1J8gA
  • The passes are good for any full day at Playland during the 2010 season.

    Update May 18th My first winner is Sharon. I’ll draw another next week in a few days, thanks for entering!
    Update May 20th The final winner is Ashley – thanks for all the great comments!

    Fine print: I’ll do the draw for one of the 4-packs on May 18th, and I’ll do the other one week later on the 25th 20th (sorry, I’ll be leaving town on Friday and want to mail the passes before I go). Comment entries will be duplicated during the draw process in order to count them as two entries. Approximate value is $29.95 per ticket ($120 per 4-pack). Please note: the Playland day-passes are NOT valid during the week of the PNE.

    Current contests on Miss604.com

    • Enter here to win an Oktoberfest at at the Alpen Club prize pack (until Sept 19)
    • Enter here to win tickets to Le Concert Spirituel Baroque Orchestra Suites (until Sept 19)
    • Enter here to win tickets to the Coquitlam Express hockey games this weekend (until Sept 20)
    • Enter here to win tickest to see Herringbone at the Anvil Centre (until Sept 24)
    • View a complete list of contests »


    1. Owie says:

      Our family loves Playland! Happy 100th!

    2. Tricia says:

      Wouldn’t pass on a free trip to Playland! Weeeee!

    3. Sarah says:

      I love Playland! I cant wait to take my son there so he can enjoy it too!

    4. Vanessa says:

      Playland rocks! I remember when I would go with 5 of my cousins (ranging in age from 6-15, me included) and one of my aunts and would spend all day, on multiple occasions, at Playland during summer break. We’d hit all of the big rides first, then take a break in the arcade, then hit the rides again. We would always save the water log ride for the end so that it didn’t matter how soaked we got. Fun times, great memories!

    5. Karl says:

      A summer tradition, count me in

    6. Karen Campbell says:

      Never been, would love to go!

    7. Dom says:

      Good article and interesting facts. Count me in!

    8. T. King says:

      always a good time there and haven’t been in years!

    9. Jen says:

      Always my highlight of summer, thanks for all the history:)

    10. Jay says:

      love the rides!

    11. taraden says:

      Very neat to see all the old photos in this post. I would love to enter…..my son would love to visit Playland!!!

    12. Jenn says:

      The coaster is the best!

    13. Have been going there for the last 6-7 years every year. Always have awesome time. I am in ๐Ÿ™‚

    14. Graeme says:

      Sweet, I would happily accept free tickets to Playland!

    15. matthew m says:

      would love to check out playland for free this summer.

    16. Sharon says:

      I love all the old photos!

    17. deni says:

      We took our 2 year olds last year and they loved it! We can’t wait to go again.

    18. Jeff says:

      I want to go to Happyland!

    19. Roshena says:

      Make sure to ride on a full stomach!

    20. Sandy says:

      Haven’t been yet!

    21. Alex says:

      Haven’t been to Playland for 5 years. Hands-free on the wooden roller coaster would be just awesome.

    22. Rachelle says:

      I would love passes to Playland! Haven’t been there for a while!

    23. Gillian says:

      Would love to win those tickets, we go several times a year, one of my favourite places in Vancouver

    24. Van says:

      That’d be sweet! I love playland!

    25. Lindsay says:

      I love playland, and its not just the rides…it is the memories, we used to go every year at the end of the school year and then again for my birthday ๐Ÿ™‚ I still try to go at least once a year to keep my inner child happy <3

    26. Art Buffie says:

      I’d love to win this, the PNE is one of my favorite parts of summer.

    27. Alan C says:

      Count me in, thanks!

    28. amfriesen says:

      Haven’t been to Playland or PNE in a few years. Keep meaning to and with this momentus anniversary, I guess I’ll make the extra effort.

      Thanks for the opportunity of free passes. You rock!

    29. Win says:

      Free trip to PlayLand, awesome
      I can’t wait to take my 3 yo son

    30. Michael Rebak says:

      I’d love love love to go to playland with friends.

    31. Shannon says:

      I took my kids (now 5 & 3) to Playland for the first time last year and they had such a blast!! I can’t wait to take them again this summer and start making a tradition out of it. We would love to win tickets!

    32. Kym says:

      count me in!

    33. I’m planning on going to the PNE this year anyways, cause I missed last years, but I can’t pass up an opportunity to go to playland too!

    34. Christel says:

      Playland rules!!! The big wooden roller coaster vanquished my rollercoaster fears in grade 11 at physics day! 8)

    35. maria says:

      I would love to win this prize!!!

    36. sandy says:

      The kids would love this!!!

    37. angela says:

      My kids are still little and they love going every year!!

    38. Justin says:

      I didn’t go last two years and I’d love to go for the centennial celebration!

    39. Ron K. says:

      I’m sure my nephew would love it there!

    40. Lia says:

      Sounds so awesome! 100 years! WOW!

    41. elmo says:

      can’t wait till it’s open soon!

    42. Mona says:

      count me in for the draw, thanks!

    43. Marisa W says:

      I haven’t been to playland in a few years…. I’m not going to be in Vancouver next summer, would love to get a last crack at that wooden roller coaster!!

    44. Tracy says:

      Haven’t been in a while. Would love to go this year!

    45. Katie says:

      Can’t wait to go back, would love to go.

    46. Leigh says:

      Can’t wait to take my little girl this year! So much fun to be had!

    47. Shelly says:

      We haven’t been in a few years, but I know the girls would love to go this year.

    48. Kate L says:

      Haven’t laughed harder than during my first ride on the mousetrap. Can’t wait to go again!

    49. Daianne says:

      I would love know PNE.Since we moved for Vancouver we had no chance to go there yet…
      thanks for the contest and for all the good information you share with us in this cool space.

    50. My husband and I rode the Playland Coaster on our wedding day, after the ceremony and before the reception. We rode in the front, in our formal wear, my veil swaying, with our guests taking up the rest of the cars behind us. Playland’s Laura Ballance rocks!

    51. Jeff MacLeod says:

      Gotta love Playland ๐Ÿ™‚

    52. Monica says:

      I love the archival photos. Thanks for the contest.

    53. Jessica says:

      The thing I love most about the P.N.E is the precious time I get to spend with my family. We have so much fun, even though we go every year!

    54. lori says:

      Kids would love to go. Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

    55. Tiffany R W says:

      although i’ve grown up so much now i still go with my family each year. it’s tradition!

    56. Megan says:

      I love Playland! I can never decide if I prefer the food or the rides…

    57. Jeremy says:

      What a fun prize!

    58. Jen says:

      I have always loved Playland and the PNE, lots of good memories!

    59. Cameron says:

      The PNE will be fantastic!

    60. Kevin Wong says:

      its been years since i’ve been there.

    61. Tash says:

      Thanks for the history and info. What a great opportunity!
      I’d love a pair of passes!

    62. Veronica says:

      awesome contest… i’d love to take my kids!

    63. Jerry says:

      My family of 4 would love it!

    64. Anne SashyCat says:

      Bring on the rollercoaster and the mini donuts!

    65. mmx says:

      Thank you for yet another sweet contest give-away on your blog! Will def tweet about it as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

    66. Anna says:

      Would love a set of tickets for my family to go ๐Ÿ™‚

    67. Geoff says:

      The musical and dance fireworks show at PNE is awesome, love it

    68. Heather says:

      Too much fun!

    69. Gil says:

      My kids would love it.

    70. Ava says:

      Love going to Playland! Summer tradition =)

    71. Rachel says:

      I would like to go to there.

    72. Cathy Kuzel says:

      Here’a a piece of PNE history that wasn’t on your list.
      The Challenger map is the world’s largest relief map. BC lumberman George Challenger spent 7 years, individually cutting nearly a million pieces of wood which were then assembled into an approx. 6000 sq. feet scale map of British Columbia. The map was officially introduced to the public at the PNE, in 1954.
      A large section of the giant Challenger map, mothballed for 10 years, became the centerpiece of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
      It would be great to see it all in one piece again!

    73. Renn says:

      Great read about the history of PNE!

    74. greg says:

      Minidonuts, Rollercoasters, and Superdogs! Wahooo!

    75. Jeanie says:


    76. Mina says:

      Its going to be like the best day ever!!

    77. Ashley says:

      Love Playland and the PNE! Bought an unlimited pass one year in high school and I still have memories of that as my favourite summer ever! Go at least once a year, and will be there this year as well!

    78. scott says:

      great article (love the history at this site) and fun amusement park!

    79. sweetacheek says:

      Great to see the history behind PNE!

    80. Karen says:

      I’d love to win this!

    81. John says:

      mini-donuts and crazy spinning art

    82. Janet says:

      Playland is always the high point of summer!

    83. Jessica says:

      The best ride @ Playland: the rickety old wooden Coaster. LOVE that ride!

    84. Julia says:

      I’ve never been to Playland, but would love to go!! I hear the roller coasters are awesome!

    85. Areta says:

      a great contest!

    86. Adelaide says:

      Great post Rebecca!

    87. Michelle says:

      Love the nostalgia/history.

    88. Kelli says:

      I’m so glad the new park wasn’t named “Happyland” in honor of the old one. That’s just asking for trouble!

    89. Sanaz says:

      I haven’t been to playland for ages, not since I graduated from high school:( It’ll be nice to go and check it out again.

    90. Jamie says:

      Wooden roller coaster and ye olde Waveswinger– timeless classics.

    91. simone says:

      I’m dreaming about going to play land, I have to win.

    92. Cherp says:

      It’s a great place to have fun and enjoy summer !!

    93. Steph :) says:

      I’m looking forward to the 100th anniversary this summer!

    94. Richard says:

      Had a great time out there last year, would love to have some passes this year.

    95. B0bby says:

      I <3 PNE and Playland! Happ Birthday ๐Ÿ™‚

    96. Cindy says:

      Sounds like it’ll be fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

    97. christy says:

      my favourite ride is definitely the wooden coaster (:

    98. Dee says:

      i’ve never been-would love to go!

    99. Rox says:

      Last year we got a seasons pass and had an absolute hoot. One of the best part of moving to the city!

    100. Janice says:

      I’d like to try all the rides! I really like exciting rides!

    101. Sherry says:

      Love the trivia and photos! Hope to win the 4pack. Can’t believe the first home was worth $5000. Wonder where the lot was located. Does anyone know?

    102. Linda says:

      Thanks for putting the history and pics together! I had no idea there was so much story behind it. Will appreciate it much more.

    103. Xingji says:

      A good contest!

    104. Ann says:

      Playland is so much fun.

    105. Safiq maje says:

      Love the pics..nice post. I remember my first date at playland.

    106. Bonnie says:

      great contest! count me in!

    107. Gerry says:

      My Grand Daughter, Kaylee, will freek out at Playland. She’s 5!

    108. Jason says:

      I love all the black and white pictures you’ve put up.

    109. Susan says:

      I haven’t been to playland since I was a kid. Now its my 3 kids turn this summer.

    110. Tanis says:

      I’d love to win as it’s been so long since we’ve gone! Thank you!

    111. Amy says:

      playland passes? yes please! ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for the contest!

    112. EHONG says:

      omg yesssss. i haven’t gone in two years since going back to ontario ๐Ÿ™

      congrats to 100 years and hopefully another 100 more years lol

    113. Danny says:

      The PNE is a yearly must do for our family!! Thx.

    114. Toby says:

      My little girls love Playland! Can’t wait!

    115. David Darling says:

      Would love these passes for the fam!

    116. Jenny Wong says:

      i would love to visit playland or pne havent been there a while. need to try all the food again – whale tails.

    117. Robyn Smith says:

      Sounds like a fun Saturday!

    118. Nyla Carpentier says:

      Love Playland and what a great history. 100 years and counting. The best part is the rollercoaster, mini donuts and well the mini donuts.

    119. Nav says:

      love the old pics!

    120. tabulaarasa says:

      Many good memories of PNE. Fun for the whole family!

    121. Jeanette says:

      What great photos! Love some passes for the family!

    122. Mike DeWolfe says:

      It’s been a while since I’ve been to Playland, but I plan on returning soon.

    123. Tami Luciow says:

      My son and I have been going every year with my friend and her son since the boys were little and we all still have a blast!

    124. Jon Jennings says:

      Excellent! Didn’t know about its WWII history.

      (And the pond area is a beautiful retreat late afternoon when the pressures of the day start to get to you & you need 15 minutes to recharge & refresh ready for the evening)

    125. aria says:

      great photos

    126. pete says:


    127. Ying says:

      Looking forward to PNE and Playland.

    128. Stacy says:

      What fun — would love to go!

    129. Julie Nicholls says:

      great contest!

    130. Marilou says:

      I would love to take my daughter (4 years old) and her friend to Playland this year. Thanks for sharing the photos too! Love it!

    131. Oh, that would be awesome. Especially since the draw in on my birthday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    132. Helen says:

      Awesome info on the history of the PNE! Playland is great!

    133. nplum says:

      Mini donuts, bbq chicken, lemonade, sham-wows…aahh… good times at the PNE!

    134. acey says:

      I love the PNE!

    135. Nicole says:

      I use to live around there, brings back memories. I use to be able to see the fireworks from my room on the third floor of my house. My childhood memories.

    136. PLO says:

      Happy 100th and many more!

    137. aria says:

      Haven’t been going in the last few years. But would love to go this year.

    138. Rose says:

      Wonder if there is still survivors from the first pne?

    139. Jessica says:

      the pne is one of the best parts of living in vancouver <3

    140. AL says:

      Puppy love happens at the PNE.

    141. Danielle says:

      love playland!

    142. Julia says:

      I love Playland!

    143. Dana says:

      I love Playland. When I get there I go on as many rides as I possibly can as quickly as I can. I have been doing it for years. My favourte recent memory was going with my teenage step daughter and going on about 10+ rides. We both walked off the last one and did not feel very well. We went to the race track to chill out and sadly the thing that finally calmed my tummy was a cider ๐Ÿ™‚

    144. Cassandra says:

      Would love to go to Playland! Thanks for all the great info!

    145. Sam says:

      The kids are counting the days……

    146. Sam says:

      kids are ready……….

    147. Hannah says:

      I can’t wait for mini donuts!

    148. Diana says:

      Coaster, mini-donuts… Win a House! Win a Car!

    149. Ryan says:

      You know the fall is coming when the PNE is happening!

    150. Chelsea says:

      happy birthday PNE/playland! would love to go ๐Ÿ™‚

    151. Alan says:

      Oh would love to win this.

    152. Gillian says:

      LOVE “Happyland!” ๐Ÿ™‚

    153. Julie says:

      Thanks again for the opportunity! Excellent site!

    154. Annabelle says:

      I love Playland!!! I haven’t been there for 2 years. I would definitely want to go this year!

    155. miss tease says:

      Playland’s almost as old as Purdy’s (whom I work for). What great history Vancity has ๐Ÿ™‚

    156. Caitlin says:

      What a great contest!! I would love to take my niece and nephew if I won, they have never been before.

    157. Miss604 says:

      This contest is now closed. Thank you for the entries and I hope to have another contest of this nature running sometime this summer.

    158. ryan says:

      wow does playland suck even in the 40’s they had more roller coasters
      Playland is basicly a broken down dump of a park which is a shame because Vancouver would go a lot more if they added real rides nt dumpy little rides that they get for basicly for free and the removal of the WILDMOUSE was a crime and who ever is ruining this park should be fired as to remove that piece of history saying they couldnt get parts (bull sh%t) as parks all over the world have this still of ride which many are way older
      what is the parks attendance? I know it is very low based on the population scale of the city size.PLEASE LEASE THE PARK THE CEDAR POINT OR 6 FLAGS NOW BEFORE YOU DESTORY A BIG PIECE OF VANCOUVERS HISTORY!!!!!!!!!! AS GOVERNMENT WORKERS ARE CLUELESS ON HOW TO RUN A PROPER BUSINESS.

    159. ryan says:

      playland is so lame change is needed NEW COASTERS NOW!!!!!!!!

    160. Heather says:

      Would LOVE to take the family to the PNE!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    161. Lila Worms says:

      My Grandma (Lily Curnew) wond second prize at the PNE in either 1940 or 1941. I think it was either $500.00 or $1500.00. I was only four at the time. I still remember seeing the poor Japanese people taken from their homes and imprisoned at the PNE. You would see the poor people loooking through the fence. It left a lasting impression on me as a child. I also remember the little dipper and giant dipper and the shoot the chutes. Too bad they had to tear these down for gamblers. Have not been for several years because of all the walking.

    162. Lila Worms says:

      My Grandma (Lily Curnew) won second prize at the PNE in either 1940 or 1941. I think it was either $500.00 or $1500.00. I was only four at the time. I still remember seeing the poor Japanese people taken from their homes and imprisoned at the PNE. You would see the poor people loooking through the fence. It left a lasting impression on me as a child. I also remember the little dipper and giant dipper and the shoot the chutes. Too bad they had to demolish these for gambling. Have not been for several years because of all the walking.

    163. Amy says:

      I have gone there alot and just recently my dad made me go on the wooden roller coaster and I LOVED IT!!! brings back so many memories from when i was rally young,thx for the history

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