How many readers can remember “March Break” as a time when one was glad to be out of the classroom for a week and enjoy what was supposedly the end of winter. It has been a long time for the author since school work and study dominated his daily routine, but “March Break still holds some semblance of freedom and desire, and that is the annual Toronto Sportsmen’s Show. As with each and every year, the city of Toronto becomes a focal point for tens of thousands of individuals who attend a multi-day event which is billed as “Canada’s Biggest Fishing & Outdoor Show”. The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, hereafter referred to as TSS, started six and a half decades ago and has growth to encompass hunting, fishing, outdoor adventuring and to the surprise of many Toronto natives… GUNS!
With the show located on numerous levels and across two buildings at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) from Wednesday the 14th of March until Sunday the 18th, the show was host to several hundred exhibitors and multitudes of individuals. Please allow a bit of reflection however on the history of the TSS. For sixty two (62) years, the Toronto Sportsmen’s show had existed in one form or another as an annual event located at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds (CNE), but due to the unfathomable machinations of, the previous Toronto Mayor, David Miller; forced the show to relocate to the MTCC in 2010. Why Miller’s anti-gun zealotry deemed it necessary to destroy so many decades of history and pride is beyond comprehension. Now on its third year away from the CNE, the TSS is once again running what is now their 65th anniversary. It was estimated that the City of Toronto lost nearly $14 million of revenue when the show shifted locations, the reason being that all revenue from the MTCC flows to the province of Ontario, not the city. Fast forward to 2012 and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is opening the show which he has attended since he was a child and the hunting hall is growing.
As always, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association was present at the TSS and with the help of many volunteers was able to once again have a successful show in terms of membership growth and engaging in discussion with probably thousands of individuals throughout the duration of the show. Many thanks to CSSA Regional Director Gus M. who volunteered far more than what was asked of him and to Mr. Andrew Craig of Canadian Reload Radio fame who brought in his custom centre-fire silhouette rifle and a small video which was a great draw and topic of discussion. The CSSA thanks all who helped them with another successful show and as always the main topic of discussion was the demise of the Long Gun Registry (which TPF is proud to state just passed clause by clause reading in the senate as the author edits this entry).
Over the five (5) days of the TSS, several tens of thousands of attendees were able to experience a full gambit of outdoor pursuits as the show caters to the public and the newest wares and a “One stop shop” for nearly every outdoor need. In fact many attendees left the show in possession of products which were impulsive purchases in the first place. TPF however will concentrate this TSS review in the Hunting Hall aspect of the event. As always the primary focus of the Hunting Hall aspect was for Outdoor adventures such as hunting, hiking, boating, with additional luxury products as well as some interactive displays and pavilions being present.
This year was a slight departure from the norm, not only were there far more firearms on display for sale by retailers, this year represented the first time in many years which restricted firearms were for sale, let alone on display. Many thanks to Tactical Imports, whom took the first step, with the assistance of Mr. Tony Bernardo and the CSSA, were allowed to bring in some of there more “exotic” firearm products for the public to not only view order from them. Initially the TSS was refusing to allow Tactical Imports into the venue as it did not fit in with the traditional “Hunting” definition. When pointed out that many of the exhibitors, such as that depicted in the previous luxury product image, had little if anything to do with “Hunting” and that a firearm is a firearm, the TSS removed their objections and Tactical Import set up their display. Showing both non-restricted and restricted firearms in their booth, Tactical Imports has started what may be a growing trend by other exhibitors/retailers at the show. At least that is the hope of TPF-Online and many attendees whom we talked to.
As always some things never seem to change and that is a good thing in the case of the Toronto Sportsmen’s Association (TSA). The TSA crew has been coming to the TSS for many many years, and has always been the ones who have run the air-gun and archery ranges at the show. They are a truly exceptional group of individuals who continuously are to be thanked for exposing the future generations to the shear enjoyment that is available in shooting sport disciplines. Many thanks to Mr. Edwards and his volunteer crew for all his time and efforts over the past several years for continuing to provide exceptional public awareness and hands-on experiences like these for our youth.
The Canadian Military has been present as well in the last few years with an ever increasing display of equipment and public outreach. The author ensured that every one of our men and women in uniform whom was met at the show was thanked for their service and their efforts. TPF-Online will side step here briefly and state for the record that Support The Troops ribbons, pins, and decals are not being pro-war, but pro-survival. One does not have to believe in the circumstances which led to Canadian military involvement, but we should all wish our fellow brothers and sisters in uniform to come home safely and with as due speed. A full gambit of military hardware was present for display for TSS attendees to look at, ask questions about, and receive answers.
The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show is an annual event and it looks as though it is starting to grow out of the “traditional” mold of what constitutes our hunting aspects of outdoor recreation. That being said, the TSS is a huge endeavour which caters to the outdoors-man in most people in the Toronto region. So if you do not mind paying for parking and what some claim are excessive admission fees, you too can experience “Canada’s Biggest Fishing & Outdoor Show” every year. As TPF-Online looks forwards to next year’s show once again, we put forward the standard question: Is the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show; Tactical, Practical or Fantastical?