Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Expo 67

The 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67, as it was commonly known, was the general exhibition, Category One World's Fair held in Montreal,QuebecCanada, from April 27 to October 29, 1967. It is considered to be the most successful World's Fair of the 20th century, with the most attendees to that date and 62 nations participating. It also set the single-day attendance record for a world's fair, with 569,000 visitors on its third day.

My memories mostly revolve around the 70's when I was a teenager - I consider
those " my " years - but there were some pretty special ones in the 60's as well.

I suppose if you looked at it from eyes that are accustomed to 2012 it would seem
pretty boring - but let me tell you if you happened to have eyes in 1967 and were
lucky enough to have visited this fair the imprint of it would be stamped onto your
heart - forever engraved like a tattoo.
Talk about magic -
My mother ( a 27 year old widow of three years that summer ) managed to secure
a job there and so we had unlimited access - keep in mind that the 60's were still
a secular time for the most part - North Americans ( Canadians and Americans ) still
lived our lives out in our little neighbourhoods - news was local or national but we
pretty much lived our lives not knowing anything about China except for the chant
we would sing
OUT GOES Y - 0 - U
( we thought we were speaking Chinese )
But for some reason I was always fascinated by other countries - always -
so for a few months that summer I would wander in and out of the pavillions -
pretending I was actually entering the countries they represented - and speak
in " tongues " with whoever I was with - because I so wanted people to think
I was Russian or Italian or whichever country I happened to be in.
A typical conversation with my cousin upon entering one of these would go as follows

ME - espi nata colla spenania coodati?
HER - laka toochi spotofinata!!!!

translation? " oh I think we're fooling them! " - and I think sometimes we did which was the highlight of our day ( hey - we had to invent our fun - there were no videogames in the 60's )

There were celebrity sightings - and royalty sightings - everybody came that summer -
amusement rides and an overhead train system and gondolas ( see video )  that whisked you all around the grounds and actually entered the American Pavillion and went right
though it - suspended in the air, ( think of the Jetsons - )  there were international foods that we had never
heard of let alone seen - ( the 60's were grilledcheesesandwichtunacasserolejello days )
and it opened the minds of my generation like nothing else had done so far - it exposed
us to different and it was wonderful - at that time immigrants came to North America
with the sole desire of assimilating completely - blending into the landscape - not wanting
to stand out - so even though we had ethnic communities we were not really exposed to
their lifestyles at all - except for that one summer when we were exposed to everything
and I could not absorb it deeply enough - I wanted to know more - to learn more - to befriend and understand more.

The song on that video?  That became our anthem that summer - you could hear it on the streets,
in the shops - at school - and you would be hard pressed to find a Montrealer ( or any Canadian I suppose )
in their 50's or older that will not be singing along with it as they watch the video.

The U.S. Pavillion - which the monorail went through the middle
suspended in air!
The United States pavilion was enclosed by the most memorable structure, Buckminster Fuller's 250 foot diameter geodesic dome. Unlike many of Fuller's ugly squat half domes, the one at Expo was a 3/4 sphere set amidst a park-like setting. It floated above the fairgrounds like an enormous silver bubble. During the day its acrylic skin sparkled in  the sunlight, and when darkness fell, its interior lighting gave it a vari-colored glow.

night view - magic, right?
Habitat 67- designed by Moshe Safdie - still there in all it's glory
Prime real estate - with waiting lists to purchase

The France Pavillion

The Thailand Pavillion

The admission ticket was referred to as a passport.   Single-day, seven-day and season passports were sold. When purchased at the expo a single day passport was $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for children; seven day passports were $12.00 for adults; and season passports were $35.00 for adults. All passports entitled the holders to free entry to all pavilions as well as unlimited use of the mass transit system -- Expo-Express. Pages in the passport could be filled with "visa stamps" at the various National Pavilions.

Life was changing - people were changing - the world was changing and it all seemed
to culminate on this little man made island, Google it to see the amazing architecture that appeared on the grounds and the story behind the foresight that brought all this together.
If you're a history buff you will be hooked.

For a little girl who longed to see the world, with passport in hand, I got a little glimpse of it in the summer of 67 at the ripe old age of 8 years old.

Some memories will never die.


In a young girls heart



  1. The 70's were my years too, so I really enjoyed reading this :)

  2. Aaah, memories! Magic indeed. I still have my passport! My parents would let me go alone at 7 years old with my 11 year old brother. These were different times!

    And La Ronde amusement park was so much fun.


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