Story Ideas

In Canada’s T.O.? Catch a trade show, or 20.

Toronto hosts 140 trade shows a year, even more for the public—from motorcycles and wine ‘n cheese to postage.

16 March 2011

Next week I’m going to learn about the joys of Tantric sex. Three weeks ago, I discovered the challenges of a black-diamond run at British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb ski resort. Got my skis waxed, too. In January, I’ll be sipping piña coladas ensconced in a wicker easy chair, 10 minutes after getting a free lesson on docking my boat and right before checking out a new boat. If I were younger, I could figure out where to hold my perfect wedding. Somewhere in there, I can improve my golf swing and discover the best place in Canada to go whitewater rafting.

Might think I’m a sort of Renaissance man. Wrong. Might think I’m some kind of world traveller. Wrong again. I can do every single one of these things without leaving Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area (GTA). That’s right, I’m a consumer show aficionado.

It’s been said that when you get three people who share a passion, a magazine is born.  Get four together, and a consumer show is born. “Whatever you’re into, you can get into it in Toronto,” says Andrew Weir, Tourism Toronto’s communications VP.

Consider this: a recent study by University of Guelph’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management shows that 2.3 million visitors hit the GTA for trade or consumer shows. And those people drop over a billion dollars into the economy. The city boasts more than 280,000 sq m (3 million sq ft) of exhibition space, so there are worse places to hold a show. There are well over 120 trade shows held here each year, and even more consumer shows. Only Las Vegas hosts more trade and consumer shows.

Direct Energy Centre, at Exhibition Place, is ground zero for these spectacles: the biggest single event venue in the country with 93,000 sq m (1 million sq ft) of its own. The DEC is home to the likes of the Toronto International Boat Show, Everything to Do with Sex Show, One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale and Winter Woofstock (the summer show is Canada’s biggest dog show, so now it’s added a winter event!). Not sufficiently esoteric for you? The National Postage Stamp Show has even been held here.

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, conveniently located downtown, puts on shows ranging from  Toronto’s Ultimate Travel Show to Canada’s Bridal Show. You can visit the same venue for the Canadian International AutoShow and Toronto Motorcycle Show.

The International Centre (47,000 sq m or 500,000 sq ft, opened in 1972) near the airport hosts the International Motorcycle Supershow. Also here: The Outdoor Adventure Show and Wine & Cheese Show.

Nearby, Toronto Congress Centre (93,000 sq m or 1 million sq ft) lays claim to yet another bridal show and is the ultimate parking lot for another exhibition of wheels, the Toronto RV Show & Extravaganza.

For in Toronto the show must go on… and on.

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