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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Exposed!

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2011

Expo 67

April 28, 1967: Expo 67 opens in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was considered to be the most successful World’s Fair of the century. There were 50 million visitors (including your author) and 62 nations participated in the event. There was a record crowd on the third day of the Expo with 569,000 visitors on that day alone. The year coincided with Canada’s centennial year. It was originally to have been held in Moscow, Russia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but the Soviet Union backed out and the fair was offered to Canada in 1962. After the fair closed in October 1967, the site and many of the pavilions remained open as exhibits called Man and His World.

The exhibition did not get a smooth start. In 1963, a computer program had predicted the project was doomed and there was not enough time to get ready so many of the top organizers resigned. Or else it was due to a new government coming into power and switching appointees. It was in May 1963 that a theme for the fair was selected. They chose “Man and His World” based on a book written in 1939 by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

There were seventeen theme elements for Man the His World including: Du Pont Auditoriaum of Canada, Habitat 67, Labyrinth, Man and his Health, Man in the Community, Man the Explorer with four sub-themes, Man the Creator with three sub-themes, Man the Producer with three sub-themes, and Man the Provider. Construction began on August 13, 1963 when the first front loader of fill dirt was dumped. Twenty-five million tons of fill dirt followed. There were only 1,042 days to complete the building of Expo 67. On opening day, everything was ready.

One of the notable features of Expo 67 was the World Festival of Art and Entertainment which featured art galleries, operas, ballets and theater companies, orchestras jazz groups, and pop musicians. There was an amusement park that remained open nightly until 2:30 AM even though the park itself closed at 10 PM. Many notable people arrived including Queen Elizabeth II, Lyndon Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Charles de Gaulle. Many countries participated in the event but notably Spain was absent, South Africa was banned due to apartheid, and China did not participate. Many countries in South America also did not take part. The revenues were $221,239,872 and the cost of the Expo was $431,904,683 for a deficit of over $210 million. But I had fun.

“The cannonade of fireworks which marked the opening of Expo…may in retrospect turn out to have been one of those rare moments that changed the direction of a nation’s history…This is the greatest thing we have ever done as a nation and surely the modernization of Canada — of its skylines, of its styles, its institutions — will be dated from this occasion and from this fair…The more you see of it, the more you’re overwhelmed by a feeling that if this is possible, that if this little sub-arctic, self-obsessed country of 20,000,000 people can put on this kind of show, then it can do almost anything.” – Peter C. Newman

“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

“The official name was “The 1967 Universal and International Exhibition in Montréal / L’Exposition universelle et internationale de 1967 à Montreal”. A bit of a mouthful. It needed a more convenient name.” – Yves Jasmin

Also on this day:
A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789 the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Kon-Tiki – In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl set sail.

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