Little Bits of History

Expo 67

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2012

Expo 67

April 27, 1967: The official opening ceremonies for Expo 67 are held on this Thursday afternoon. The invitation-only event was held at Place des Nations with Roland Michener, Governor General of Canada, proclaiming the exhibition was open after Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson lit the Expo flame. Michener had just stepped into the role of Governor General ten days earlier following Georges Vanier’s death. The flame, lit two years earlier at the Canadian Centennial celebrations were brought in by an honor guard of twelve cadets, representing the twelve provinces and territories in Canada at the time.

Attending the ceremonies were more than 7,000 specially invited guests. Most were from the media, however there were also 53 heads of state in the crowds. There were more than 1,000 reporters and the event was broadcast live and in color, via satellite, and reached over 700,000,000 viewers and listeners. The Golden Centennaires, forerunners of today’s Canadian Forces Snowbirds, closed the ceremonies with a fly-by covering the Expo site and the Montreal harbor.

Expo 67 was opened to the public the next day. It has been considered the most successful World Exhibition of the 20th century. There were 62 nations participating and over 50 million people came to the event between April 28 and October 29. A record was set on the third day of the Expo when 569,000 people visited. Like other World’s Fairs or Expos, the buildings were not constructed for a long life. However, they remained opened during summer months until 1981 when they were dismantled after deteriorating beyond safety.  However, a few of the major building were constructed to last and remain in use.

Many famous people came to Expo 67. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco, Maurice Chevalier, Queen Elizabeth II, Robert Kennedy and his family, Jackie Kennedy, General Charles de Gaulle, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, Billes Vigneault, and US President Lyndon B. Johnson all came to visit. They were treated to the sights and activities in fifteen different major pavilions and 850 total sites.  Construction had begun in 1963 and costs ballooned to $439 million ($2.9 billion today) by 1967. Six months prior to the opening, there were still 6,000 workers finishing their projects. Expo 67 opened on schedule and to the delight of millions.

Set a good example for the world. If you are excellent, if you are of high quality, the world will imitate you. – Albert Schweitzer

Still, Expo is regarded as the best world’s fair ever. Its success changed the world’s view of Canada, and more importantly, it changed the way Canadians viewed themselves. For the first time the country basked in the pride and the glory of its talents and accomplishments. A nation had come of age. – Raj Ahluwalia

When the lights go out for the last time, when the crowds have left the pavilions and the avenues, a World Exhibition begins a new life. Less glittering but more profound, this new life is nourished in the souls of those who visited the Exhibition, and it will blossom into a legend for generations to come. – Pierre Dupuy

We are witnesses today to the fulfillment of one of the most daring acts of faith in Canadian enterprise and ability ever undertaken. That faith was not misplaced. But Expo is much more than a great Canadian achievement of design and planning and construction. It is also a monument to Man. It tells the exciting and inspiring story of a world that belongs not to any one nation but to every nation. –  Lester B. Pearson

Also on this day:

Sultana – In 1865 the steamship Sultana has a boiler explode.
John Milton – In 1667, Paradise Lost was purchased for £5.
Appendectomy – In 1887, the first successful appendectomy was performed.

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One Response

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  1. dcmontreal said, on October 17, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Here’s an EXPO post you may find interesting!

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