National Treasure #107: Expo 67

The 1967 International and Universal Exposition: Expo 67 for short.

It was the 100th anniversary of Con-fed-er-eh-tion, and Expo 67 was our signature national event.

We drove about 2,000 miles (we drove in miles, back then – it was a different time) from Edmonton to Montreal: my mother, my brother, my two sisters, a friend of one sister, and me. My father was busy with work and flew to Montreal to join us. I was 15 and I remember . . .

  • Trailing my father through crowds on the grounds – at 6′ 1″, he stood out
  • ¬†Going to as many pavilions as possible to bag Expo passport stamps
  • Eating at a French restaurant in Old Montreal, where the proprietor lent my father and brother sports jackets to maintain the dress code
  • Watching a couple waltz to Strauss played by a string quartet in an outdoor concert – she was wearing an electric blue, form-fitting, mini-dress
  • Accepting the phrasing of the theme – Man and His World – without a second thought about its inclusiveness or lack thereof – a different time, indeed
  • Feeling really proud of my country

I knew nothing then about the Soviets cancelling their exposition, opening up to 1967 time slot for Canada but with just 5 years to prepare. Or the resignations of many members of the organizing committee – maybe forced by Pearson’s win over Diefenbaker that year – which cast doubt on the schedule. Or the municipal politics. Or the threats from the Front de liberation du Quebec.

Somehow, though, it all came together both because of and in spite of ourselves, and the world came to Canada.


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