The circus in North America was in its heyday from 1920 to 1950. Troupes travelled by train from city to city, arriving in towns with great fanfare. These colourful and extravagant spectacles attracted a public eager to hear the music of the brass band and to gaze at the acrobats, clowns, exotic animals, and various sideshows such as fire-eaters, snake-charmers and human curiosities. All of these were key elements of the big-top industry.
The miniature circus created by Quebec craftsman Gaston Bergeron contains several hundred figures. Placed end-to-end, they form a parade measuring more than 150 metres long.
Bergeron painstakingly based his miniature version on the types of circuses that existed during the spectacle's golden age in North America. Fascinated by the dazzling world of the circus, the artist devoted all his leisure time to the project. From 1958 to 1986, he presented his miniatures across Canada and the United States in a travelling exhibition.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization acquired the collection in 1988.