As we mark the 150th birthday of Canada – rare are references to it as our sesquicentennial, thank God – we are also celebrating the city of Montreal’s 375th anniversary. But for me the most enjoyable reminiscences have been those documenting the 50th anniversary of EXPO 67.
As a seven year-old the huge World’s Fair was a pure joy for me. Thinking back to those days often tweaks a pang of nostalgia in me. Not surprisingly there is a plethora of tweaking going on as many exhibits and special events are running this summer. While I enjoy these formal presentations, what I find most heartwarming are posted photos of EXPO 67 that were taken by average visitors.
As an example this collection on Flickr comprises over a hundred photos that were found in a scrapbook on the street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I figure sooner or later I will come across a picture with me in the background.
One of the things that has struck me while looking through many photos, is the seemingly total lack of corporate branding at the fair. There were corporate pavilions; Kodak, BELL etc. But when it came to branding there was little if any. No Doritos pavilion of the United States or Stella Artois’ Belgium pavilion.
Given our reliance on corporate branding in today’s overpriced world, this is a breath of fresh air. I know it would be folly to suggest another EXPO 67-like event for any number of reasons, perhaps this is a good thing as another such event would no doubt be riddled with corporate logos and slogans.
Another thing that comes to mind while looking at these photos is that although there were lines for many pavilions (remember admission was free once you entered the site, no fee-per-exhibit) there never seems to be overwhelming crowds. It always looks comfortable – or is that an illusion after fifty years – even if over 53 million visitors dropped in that summer.
When I was growing up I listened to Montreal’s rock radio station CKGM FM which morphed into CHOM. Almost without fail whenever there was a thunderstorm, or even just the sound of distant thunder, the station would play the 1971 classic Riders on the Storm by The Doors. What a great marketing ploy, almost guaranteeing bonus play in addition to regular spins. (Yes, they were actually spinning records back then.)
The Doors’ song gave them extra plays throughout the year. But there’s another artist who benefits greatly every year on this day, the Summer Solstice. I am referring to none other than Mungo Jerry and their hit In the Summertime. The band – the name comes from a T. S. Eliot poem – still tours but has undergone numerous changes of personnel over the years.
Happy summer 2017!
Playing the video below may result in the implantation of the earworm Chh chh chh uh, chh chh chh uh that will loop and haunt you all day long.
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is introducing a new wrinkle that is aimed at getting people on buses faster. They will allow passengers with unlimited passes – weekly, monthly, four-month or yearly – to board buses via the rear door. Commuters with a single fare or those paying cash will still have to use the front door.
There are restrictions aplenty; only the long articulated vehicles – commonly known as bendy buses – are involved, and only at Metro stations, and only between 5 a.m and 7 p.m.
Wow, that will no doubt result in a massive reduction in boarding time. However, I feel it incumbent upon myself to hereby inform the STM that this system has unofficially been in use at many Metro stations for years. When long lines form waiting in inclement weather – wet, cold, snowy or all of the above – it is not uncommon for folks to hop on through the back door, even on non-bendy buses.
I suspect the new system will have a means of checks and balances to weed out those just scamming a free ride. Undercover conductors to verify passes and transfers will be required. I believe that the majority of riders will observe the honour system, but there are always a few who take advantage.
It won’t surprise me if this does not result in a great improvement, given people have been doing it to some extent for years. Now if we can just build a Metro station turnstile that is too high to jump over and too low to get under we may be getting somewhere.
People often remark that Canadians are very polite. I think I would have to agree. For the most part we use the magic words – please and thank you – and of course we have been known to apologize from time to time. Yesterday I noticed a new aspect of our politeness when I passed a parked police car downtown and spotted a friendly warning on the rear window.
The window is equipped with bars on the inside to make sure no one kicks out the glass, and there is a partition between front and back seat. But what struck me was that printed on the window was a warning: attention à votre tête or watch your head when getting in.
Such a nice touch!
Dear President Obama,
We are pleased that you are coming to visit us in Montreal. I thought I would take a moment to give you a little background on what to expect. We live in an officially French-speaking province in a country that is officially bilingual; French and English. But at street-level most Montrealers get by just fine in a variety of languages and dialects. But please do not tell anyone, we like to keep that a bit of a secret.
Our political views run the gamut – left to right and everything in between. However keep in mind that up here everything is shifted just a wee bit to the left. In fact, given this cultural adjustment, it may well be the first time in a long time that you, Mr. President, find yourself the most conservative politician in a room.
This year the City of Montreal celebrates its 375th anniversary while Canada marks its 150 birthday. You may notice, as you are whisked about the city, many streets closed-off for various festivities. You may therefore be tempted to think that these people are putting on quite a party for their anniversaries, but in fact things are like this most summers in Montreal. It’s a long winter so we tend to make the most of summer. Coming back for the Jazz Festival?
It is my understanding that the United States Secret Service is responsible for your safety. I strongly suggest you make certain they have the absolute most up-to-date GPS information in their vehicles We have been known to have construction related detours with their very own detours! Not that your motorcade will get stuck in traffic what with police escorts and all, but when you send a trusted Agent out for a snack or a pack of smokes, he or she may become enmeshed in our annual Festival of the Construction Cones.
I have a hunch the local police assigned to your visit may be in full uniform – at least if the mayor has his way – but should you notice a police officer wearing a bright red baseball cap, bullet-proof vest, and shocking pink camouflage pants please take no notice. Labour disputes can take some odd forms here. But let’s face it, cammo pants are a whole lot better that a police strike.
On the topic of food, no doubt there will be calls for you to be photographed eating poutine, bagels or smoked meat. Try to avoid these kitschy shots. Montreal has a wide range of restaurants serving great meals from all over the world, Perhaps a photo at a Latin American cafe might fit the bill. Or better yet, skip the whole photo nonsense entirely and have a quiet meal brought in.
In closing let me welcome you to Montreal. I hope you enjoy whatever time you have here, I believe you will find you are much admired in my city. As for your successor, well, perhaps the less said the better, after all, we are having a party!
Ironically these two tweets appeared in order on my Twitter feed today.
Global beer sales drying up, says report https://t.co/LsPn57AoYT
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 4, 2017
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) June 4, 2017
Someone is trying to do his best to keep those beer sales up, come hell or terrorist attack!