Come To The Ex! Watch Us Slice Open A Living Dog! by Adam Bunch

Originally posted Aug. 21, 2011: 

The guys in this photo are looking pretty pleased with themselves. And with good reason. The two on the left and the one on the far right are veterinarians who have just been awarded fancy new commemorative pens.  The pens are in recognition of their outstanding PR work. These are the masterminds behind Vetescope, "the biggest public relations venture that organized veterinary medicine has undertaken on this continent". It ran at the Ex in 1962 and '63 and I'm willing to bet it's the weirdest exhibit the CNE has ever featured.

Held in what's now the Music Building, Vetescope was meant to show everybody that vets were more than just "horse doctors"; it had films and displays and more than 100 Canadian veterinarians on hand to meet the public, explain their profession and provide live demonstrations of their work. Including surgeries.

Apparently, people couldn't get enough of it. More than 400,000 visitors attended the exhibit in its first year, so many that they had to set up a closed circuit television; not everyone could get close enough to see through the windows into the operating room. And while the video below suggests that the vets might have tried to stick with small incisions, there were still plenty of people who couldn't take it. In one day alone, at least a dozen people fainted. One man passed out twice. Another recovered only to walk straight into a tree. The organizers, fearing for public safety, made sure there were assistants on hand to help the people who did keel over.

As if the combination of cotton candy, corn dogs and rollercoasters wasn't already enough to make you want to puke.

Here, if you're up for it, is some silent (and not too gory) footage of Vetescope '63 from the CNE's archives on YouTube:

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at

This post originally appeared on the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera Blog, which tells stories about the history of Toronto. You can read more highlights from it here, or visit it yourself here.


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