In 1967 Canada hosted Expo 67 in Montreal. This huge event not only celebrated the centennial of Canada's confederation but Montréal's 325th anniversary as well. Built around the theme of “Man and his world,” this event marked the history of Quebec for years to come.
Montreal's Expo 67 (also known and the Universal Exposition) was held from the 28th of April to the 27th of October and attracted 50,306,648 visitors! While it was briefly discussed and rejected in Toronto; Montreal’s Mayor, who was Sarto Fournier at the time, liked the idea and campaigned for it. The construction for Expo 67 finally began in 1958.
On January 26, 1963 architects Bedard, Charbonneau, and Langlois, presented the plan for Expo 76. They proposed to incorporate the theme of water by building the Exposition along Montreal's St. Lawrence River waterfront. It was going to be difficult, but it would give Expo 67 a great setting.
“Montréal's Expo '67 was the most architecturally stimulating of the postwar fairs” (New Millennium Encyclopedia) Some of the structures designed and built include a pavilion built by American architect Buckminster Fuller, a huge geodesic sphere, and a new “section type” of housing built with prefabricated units by the Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. The geodesic sphere and Habitat is still in existence today.
Expo 67 was mainly held on two islands built in the St. Lawrence River for the fair. Massive feats of engineering were achieved to double the size of one of the existing islands and to create a completely new second island. During the construction of the Montreal Metro system, massive amounts of dirt were taken from underground and transported into the St. Laurence seaway to create this new island. Montrealers also build a new bridge to the new islands and created the highway Decarie by tearing down existing buildings to create the in-ground highway we see today. Huge pavilions were constructed by different countries and by corporations advertising their products and advancements. To move guests around between the two islands and among the exhibit buildings, a monorail system was built which had some interesting design elements.
The Minirail, as it was called, consisted of two different kinds of trains and three different track systems. One set of trains was constructed in Switzerland in 1964 and was taken out of storage and “modernized” for Expo 67. The other set of trains was constructed in Montreal especially for the expo. Some of the tracks went over water and through the giant geodesic dome. The fare the monorail was first 40 cents, but it became so over-crowded and filled with people who only wanted to sit with and ever-changing view. The price was soon raised to 50 cents, and “looky-loos” were kicked off. The whole system was a great success, “drawing seven million passengers on the system in just the first three months of the operation! (Think of how quickly it must have paid for itself!)” (Novelty Monorails) To this day, the La Ronde amusement park exists and STILL has its yellow line minirail, the last remnant of the major exhibition.
All in all, Expo 67 was a vibrant sign of the new Quebec issued in by the Quiet Revolution, and gave a feeling of technological innovation and hope for a bright future for Montreal.
Simon and Schuster New Millennium Encyclopedia
Copyright 1998 Simon & Schuster Interactive and Versabook and their licensors. Viacom Inc., New York
The History of Quebec and Canada in a Nutshell
Copyright 2000, Brian Maddock, Beaconsfield, QC
Novelty Monorails -
Expo 67 - Montreal World's Fair
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