April 16th, 1943
Dear Mom + Dad
Just a few lines to let yous know I arrived safe and sound and very tired but it was a swell ride. I can’t say anything about the camp except that it’s a swell place. I’ve met all the guys I used to know at the Horse Palace. Demps and I are to-gether again for good I guess. Find out Earls address and I can drop in and see him.
If you have any spare old dollar bills lying around send them I can always use them. Take Demps letter to his mother and ask Marg to drop me a line as I’d like lots of mail.
Well that’s all for to-day. Write again to-morrow. Lots of love
The East End Kid
Be home soon I hope.
[Shannan’s Note – Gord mentions a place called the Horse Palace in this letter. For those of you that aren’t native Torontonians, you’re probably left wondering if we really see our horses as royalty, worthy of a Palace for a home… Although incredible creatures, yes, the Horse Palace isn’t exactly a Palace in the usual sense of the word. Built in 1931 and once thought of as one of the best equestrian facilities in Canada, the Horse Palace is one of many buildings that make up the entire grounds of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. I will spare you the full history of the grounds themselves, but they are best known as the home to the beloved summer fair, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), affectionately known as The Ex to us locals. The Ex started in August 1879, and aside from 5 war-era years, has been a Canadian tradition ever since.
From 1942 – 1946, the CNE would not be held. The Exhibition Place grounds (including the Horse Palace) were turned over to our Department of National Defence to provide a core training ground for soldiers. In 1945, after the war ended, Exhibition Place was converted from training grounds into a demobilization centre to help integrate returning soldiers back into society. The grounds were turned back over to the city in late summer 1946, but with too little time left to plan the annual fair, The Ex would begin again in 1947.
Today, the Horse Palace is actually home to horses that may well be royalty after all, Toronto’s much loved Mounted Police Unit have been the main tenants since the late 1960’s and on any given day you can walk by the Horse Palace and see the officers and their four legged partners heading out for duty.]