CNE Lee Shimano story

Going to The Ex faster with GO

GO connects long time CNE volunteer to Exhibition Place.

Aug 23, 2023

GO Transit has been helping get people to the CNE since the transit agency started running 56 years ago.

And this year it’s easier than ever to jump on a train and go to ‘The Ex’.

GO is running extra service, and you can save up to 37 per cent off admissions and rides with PRESTO Perks.

And when you get there, keep an eye out for long-time CNE volunteer Lee Shimano at the front gates.

CNE Lee Shimano story

Lee Shimano has been taking the GO to her volunteer job at the CNE for more than two decades. (Metrolinx photo)

Shimano has been taking GO Transit to her gig at the CNE for more than 20 years and her story is a reminder that how you get there is the first part of your experience at ‘The Ex’.

“I learned you could actually take the GO Train in a flash to get to the CNE,” Shimano said.

“It’s a very short run from Mimico or Long Branch and to drive that distance takes five or six times as long.”

The time savings are particularly important for Shimano as ‘The Ex’ is more than a one-day event in her summer.

She’s part of a team of 150 CNE volunteers - working at least six shifts over the 18-day duration of the fair, serving as a goodwill ambassador and greeter.

The location of Exhibition GO Station puts Shimano just steps away from her volunteer post and several key attractions.

“You walk in just minutes away from the Food Building, all of the facilities and Tiny Tim is right there with the fresh donuts,” she said.

Metrolinx also has a booth at the CNE to help provide people with more information about things like PRESTO, transit projects, and GO Transit services. It’s staffed by brand ambassadors and members of their community engagement team and is located just outside the Enercare Centre.

CNE Lee Shimano story

A Metrolinx brand ambassador ready to talk transit with fair goers. (Metrolinx photo)

Volunteering at CNE

Shimano has taken on several roles since 2000 when she began volunteering, including her current meet and greet position. Sometimes she’s stationed just inside the CNE gates, greeting people mere moments after getting off the GO Train.

“We introduce people to the events of the day and give them an idea of where to find them,” Shimano said.

The CNE has been a constant in Shimano’s life, as her childhood home was within walking distance of Exhibition Place – and that helped pay for her early visits.

CNE Lee Shimano story

One of Shimano's favourite items of CNE memorabilia commemorate Marilyn Bell’s 1954 swim across Lake Ontario. (Metrolinx photo)

“We would park cars at our property during the CNE and my mother would very graciously give us a handful of quarters that we could spend at The Ex,” Shimano said.

As an adult, she built an impressive collection of CNE memorabilia, including medallions, tickets, drinking glasses, posters, plates, dolls, and other souvenirs.

Shimano now shares her love for ‘The Ex’ with younger generations.

“Kids love it,” she said.  “The CNE still offers a really nice family package.”

CNE Lee Shimano story

Check out the specially wrapped double decker GO Bus at Metrolinx's CNE booth. (Metrolinx photo)

Let’s GO to The Ex

Canada’s largest fair, the CNE has been an end-of-summer tradition in Toronto since 1879. With a variety of activities for people of all ages, it attracts 1.5 million visitors per year.

With Exhibition GO Station just steps from Exhibition Place, plus new weekday group and weekend unlimited passes, it makes GO Transit the easiest and most economical way to get there.

As always, kids 12 and under ride free on all GO Trains and GO Buses.

Remember to plan your trips before setting out on any summer adventure. Check GO Train schedules, look out for any GO service updates or sign up for real-time service updates from GO Transit.

by Mike Winterburn Metrolinx communications senior advisor