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Jack Ray: Selling Glamour and Illusion
North American Carnival Museum and Archives
Stittsville , Ontario


   In the early 1900s the
carnival beckoned its
audience with canvas signs
and callers. Banners and
posters were strung up in
succession, tempting the
public with glimpses of the
exotic. Sensational images
and peeks of the show inside
introduced by a caller's

spiel enticed spectators to
venture inside the tent. This
fanfare at the entrance to a
show was known as "ballyhoo".
   Although riveting, these
banners reflected a bygone
era. The 20th century
spurred modernization in
every aspect of North
American culture and the

carnival industry was no
exception. A new face for the
carnival was needed.
   John C. (Jack) Ray, the
almost forgotten Toronto
commercial artist and master
designer of theatrical
scenery met James Wesley
(Patty) Conklin the "Carnival
King" in the Palliser Hotel

in Calgary where Jack was a
busboy. This chance meeting
would change Jack's life and
the face of the modern
carnival forever.
   Patty Conklin hired Jack
initially as sign painter in
1937, by the early 1940s he
was designing shows and
fronts for the Canadian

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