The Miramichi Agricultural Exhibition Association Limited was organized by a group of interested farmers and businessmen and was incorporated in 1903. The charter was signed by Mr. L. J. Tweedie, Provincial Secretary, by command of the Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable Jabez Bunting Snowball.
The organizers and provisional directors were:
William. B Snowball , Merchant
Sydney D. Heckbert , Merchant
John MacDonald , Manufacturer
Andrew H. Marquis , Merchant
Angus S. Ullock , Liveryman
George Hildebrand , Agent
Charles Reinsborrow , Merchant
Joseph Tweedie , Clerk
Fred M. Eddy , Accountant
George Watt , Merchant
George P. Searle , Farmer
Richard A. Lawlor , Barrister
Robert Murray , Barrister
Thomas Flanagan , Hotel Keeper
Michael Morris , Millwright
Peter Archer , Hotel Keeper
James Johnston , Hotel Keeper
John D. Creaghan , Merchant
John P. Burchill , Lumber Merchant
Alexander G. Dickson , Farmer
This group of men, who arranged for the erection of a building, which was to collapse later under heavy gales, started the plans for the Exhibition Building in 1902. The next building was erected following the signing of the Charter, which took place on March 12, 1903.
This second building was to survive until 1937, when shortly before the annual exhibition; flames engulfed and destroyed the stately structure.
The Board of Directors then made a very important decision. They realized the tremendous amount of work, which had already gone into the preparation of the 1937 Miramichi Exhibition, not only by themselves but also by the many exhibitors who would have had their exhibits prepared. They decided to erect temporary buildings and improvise with those not destroyed by fire so they could carry on with the annual event.
The exhibits arrived; the official ceremony took place; the judging was completed; and the crowds mingled in the midway with the smell of smoke in the air and the ruins of many years of dedicated work in full view.
The Board of Directors, however, was not to be discouraged. For the third time, plans were made for an Exhibition Building and the program of reconstruction began. After completion, the building was used for many years before it was further extended, both east and west, to occupy the entire width of the Exhibition Property. The building stretched a distance of 343.41 feet from Lobban Avenue on the east side, to John Street on the west side.
Main Exhibition Building
This structure, situated atop the hill overlooking the beautiful Miramichi River, became known as the Main Exhibition Building. The immense structure was crowned with a distinctive red steel roof it was impeccably maintained and extensively renovated throughout the years. It stood as one of the community’s landmarks until April 16, 1993, when fire engulfed the stately structure and destroyed the entire complex.
This Main Exhibition Building consisted of three main sections. Located on the east end of the structure was the L shaped section, which housed the Curling Club ice surface and clubrooms. It was constructed in 1965, primarily to provide extra booth space for, the annual Exhibition.
In 1967, just shortly after erecting the Curling Club, the building collapsed during the curling season. Fortunately, no one was injured. The Ladies Curling Club later honoured Wib Jardine for saving their lives. Wib had refused to let the ladies go on the ice to curl as he had heard some unfamiliar noises when preparing the ice earlier in the morning.
His concern was instrumental in averting what may have been a terrible disaster. All concerned will always be grateful to Wib! The building was reconstructed shortly thereafter and continued to provide curling facilities for the Chatham Curling Club until 1992.
Located at the west end of the Main Exhibition Building was the Pavilion or the Dance Hall. The Pavilion was used extensively throughout the years as a venue for entertainment, weddings, dances, binges, fashion shows, and other special community events.
The ground level of the centre section of the structure was to house booth space as well as several of the Exhibition’s own canteen facilities. These facilities, constructed in 1988 and 1989, were used during the annual fair. On the upper level of the centre section of the Main Exhibition Building was “Club Carnival.” This area was completely renovated for the 1989 fair. Also located on the upper level of the centre section were three lounges: The Mac O’Brien Lounge, The Acadia Lounge, and the Black Angus Lounge.
The fire of April 16, 1993 left nothing but memories of the Main Exhibition Building. An Irish Flag and the contents of two small safes were all that remained of the 42,000 square foot structure and its many contents. During 1993 and 1994, large tents were used during the annual Exhibition to accommodate many of the functions, which would have been held in the Main Exhibition Building.
Extreme adversity had faced the founders and directors of the Miramichi Agricultural Exhibition Association Limited in the past. As a tribute to their dedication, the President and Board of Directors made the decision in the spring of 1995 to begin construction of a new Exhibition facility.
Phase I of the reconstruction was completed for the 1995 Miramichi Exhibition. JW Lindsay Enterprise Limited of Moncton constructed a 9,000 square foot facility. This fully air conditioned structure seats up to 600 people and is used for entertainment, weddings, dances, and other special community events. The first official event that took place in the Exhibition Pavilion was the 1995 Miss Miramichi Pageant. During Exhibition Week, the Pavilion is used as an entertainment venue and also houses a lively casino featuring blackjack and roulette.
Construction began on Phase II of the project immediately following Exhibition ’96. Prospect Contractors Ltd. of Fredericton built another 9,000 square foot facility.
This facility, known as the Trade Show Building, has previously held the commercial booth displays during Exhibition Week. The Trade Show Building is used during the rest of the year for the weekly bingos and other special community events. It also houses the Exhibition Office year round. Preliminary construction plans call for three separate phases of construction.
Other Buildings and Improvements
Property owned by the Miramichi Exhibition extends a distance of 2462.2 feet from north to south from Church Street to St. Thomas Street.
South of the Exhibition Pavilion stand three cattle barns, two horse barns, a farmyard baby animal display building, and a livestock display building. During Exhibition Week, the livestock building houses swine, sheep, goats, fancy breeds of hens, purebred rabbits, foxes, oxen, etc. Also on the southern part of the property are the L shaped Napke Building, the Red Rooster Lounge & Casino, the Log Cabin, public washrooms and the Show Ring.
The Napke Building houses Nana’s Kitchen as well as all of the exhibits entered for competition. This includes exhibits of agricultural products, horticultural products, fine art, home economics, handicrafts, and 4-H crafts.
Repairs to the Napke Building, including a new red steel roof and completely renovated public washrooms were completed in 1988. In 1991, new showcases were constructed for the display of baked goods. In keeping with making buildings more accessible to the disabled, a new concrete wheelchair ramp and steps were installed.
In 1993, after fire had destroyed the Main Exhibition Building, the Association no longer had a venue to hold its weekly bingos. It was decided to convert the Napke Building to meet this need. As a result, the building was again completely renovated. A new tile floor was laid; a canteen was built, and new walls, windows and doors were installed. The hall was wired with a new PA sound system and an air exchanger was installed for the comfort of patrons. New tables and chairs were purchased to complete the renovation package. In 1999, new tables were once again purchased for the Napke Building.
On the second floor of one of the horse barns known, by old time fair goers as the “Jersey Barn”, is the Red Rooster Lounge & Casino. In 1989, a new red steel roof was installed on this building. Then in 1991, the facility underwent extensive renovations. A distinctive red and white tile floor was installed; a cashier’s office was constructed; and lighting was improved. In 1999, six new blackjack tables were built for the Rooster. During the annual Exhibition, nightly entertainment featuring local artists that add to the lively atmosphere of the Red Rooster Lounge & Casino.
The little Log Cabin with the red roof was completely renovated for the 1996 Exhibition. The Log Cabin has a concrete patio with a new roof built over it and has been landscaped to add to its appearance. Also new that year was the construction of wheelchair accessible public washroom facilities, which are located just south of the Log Cabin.
On July 24, 1986, the Exhibition’s Grandstand was destroyed by fire. The Grandstand was some thirty years old; had seated 500 patrons; and was once used as a canteen area. It had housed the pari-mutuel betting windows for horse-racing events. The last horse- racing event was staged in 1982, and from then on the Grandstand had been used as a seating area for horse hauling events and other outdoor shows.
Following the destruction of the Grandstand, open-air bleachers were built in 1987. The bleachers were erected in the area immediately south of the three cattle barns. Also in this area is the judges’ stand. This area of the property, known as the Show Ring, is used for such events as the 4-H judging. A stairway leading from the midway area between Cattle Barn #2 and Cattle Barn #3 enables patrons easy access to the Show Ring. Also in 1987, new fencing was installed around the entire midway area. In 1988, new and improved lighting was installed for the Barn / Show Ring area.
Behind the open-air bleachers, on the far south of the Exhibition Grounds, is the area used by the midway in the past for the special “Kiddies Land.” For the past few years, the format had been changed. “Kiddies Land” had been held on the main part of the Exhibition Grounds, next to the Pavilion and Trade Show Building. This year, we will return to the old format, with “Kiddies Land” on the southern part of the property. The Adult Midway will be housed on the main Exhibition Grounds.
Further south is the trailer hook up area used by exhibitors and midway personnel. A building in this area has also been renovated for storage. The remaining property south to St. Thomas Street (the old race track property) has been levelled and is now to be used for parking. In 1989, the new Show Ring lighting was extended to include the south parking lot. This expensive, but worthwhile lighting provides visitors, neighbours, and this facility with an added sense of security, not only during the fair week, but during the remainder of the year as well.
There are three entrances into the Exhibitions Grounds. These ticket booths and entrances are conveniently located around the perimeter of the property. To the north is the Main Entrance gate, situated between the Exhibition Pavilion and the Trade Show Buildings. In 1998, new ticket booths were built for the Main Entrance. At the opposite end of the property is the South Gate Entrance, situated in the southwest corner of the Exhibition Grounds. This entrance is located handy to the south end parking lot. In 1991, renovations were made to the South Gate Entrance to include an extra ticket booth. To the east is the Lobban Avenue Entrance, which was situated as a convenient entrance for visitors from Mount St. Joseph.
For more than 100 years, the organizers of the Miramichi Exhibition have worked hard to produce a first-rate Exhibition with facilities that were the envy of the industry. Over the years the organizers of the Miramichi Exhibition have been awarded national awards by the Canadian Association of Exhibitions. It was chosen “Regional Fair of the Year” in 1992 and earned the “Achievement of the Year” award in 1993.
Visitors to the 2020 fair will note that no expense has been spared in preparing the grounds and facilities. Without question, the fairgrounds here at the Miramichi Exhibition are the “cleanest in the east”. After a visit to the fair we are sure you would agree!
George Watt 1902 1904 1917 1920
Hon. L. J. Tweedie 1904 1911
Alexander G. Dickson 1911 1912 1925 1927
William B. Snowball 1912 1913 1922 1925
Richard A. Lawlor 1913 1915
Hon. John P. Burchill 1915 1917
Frederick M. Tweedie 1920 1922
Sydney D. Heckbert 1927 1930
George E. Fisher 1930 1932
G. Percival Burchill 1932 1934
William Johnston 1934 1936
J. Mac O’Brien 1936 1948 1950 Feb. 1955
Byron Nowlan 1948 1950 1960 1962
Max Galloway 1955 1960
Harvey White 1962 1965 1978 Jan. 1979
Renforth Loggie 1965 1966
William J. Rigley 1966 1967
J. Robert Martin 1967 1969
George W. Bateman 1970 1973
Charles A. McCoombs 1973 1976
John D. Trevors 1976 1978 1979 Jan. 1980
1982 1984 1997 Present
Marion Fitzpatrick 1980 1981
( First Woman President )
Paul Seymour 1981 Jul. 1982
John E. Tozer 1982 Oct.1982
Thomas L. MacLean 1984 1990
Glenna Sorel 1990 1992 1993 1996
Doug Breau 1992 1993
John D. Trevors 1996 Present