From 1879 to 1913, a prestigious national agricultural exhibition known as the “Dominion Exhibition” was held annually across Canada. “Each year the federal government designated one of the country’s larger fairs as the Dominion Exhibition. ….There was much at stake in the ongoing battle for Dominion Fair status, and the various exhibitors across the country competed vigorously for this honor.” (1)
In 1913, despite fierce competition, Brandon was awarded the right to host the prestigious Dominion Exhibition, based on the progressive attitude of the community and the agricultural excellence of this region!
It was reported that more than 200,000 people bought tickets during the ten day event, which opened on July 13th, 1913. The Exhibition was such a success that all hotels were filled to capacity and the overflow had to be boarded in the local roller rink! Brandon’s street car system began to operate in June, just in time for the Fair, and during fair week. trailers were attached to the cars to help move the crowds. The Fair was a spectacular success and deemed “the best ever.”
During the years following the Dominion Fair, Display Building No. II saw many uses – from swine displays to hockey games and petting zoos, and more recently as a cold storage space – the building has been in continual use for nearly a century.
Despite receiving Provincial and National Heritage designation, the Display Building has not been been well maintained over the years. But despite its deteriorating exterior, the building is basically structurally sound, and can be restored to its former grandeur.
Once again Dominion Exhibition Display Building No. II will stand as a proud symbol of our heritage of agricultural excellence and an iconic representation of Brandon and Westman’s agricultural history.