Expo 67’s Lack of Corporate Branding

Photo credit: © “Expo 67 Montreal Canada.” Toronto: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1968

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.

One of the things that has struck me while looking through many photos, is the seemingly total lack of corporate branding at the fair

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.

Another thing that comes to mind while looking at these photos is that although there were lines for many pavilions … there never seems to be overwhelming crowds. It always looks comfortable

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.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Seeking Expo 67 Artist

During the many trips to EXPO 67 fifty years ago as a seven year old child I had the opportunity to stock-up a lifetime of interesting experiences. On one such occasion my aunt, with whom I made most of my visits, had me sit for a portrait sketch. She would subsequently have the sketch framed and present it to my mother as a gift. The portrait still hangs in my mother’s apartment.

The artist was a woman if my memory is correct, who signed her work Milligan 67. I imagine she, and others, produced hundreds is not thousands of sketches during the fair’s run. I have tried to see what became of Milligan after 1967. Is she still around? Still sketching? Or did she, like many artists, have to abandon her talent for a ‘real’ job so she could pay the bills.

In this anniversary year I thought I would publish the portrait and bring this story to light just in case Milligan is still out there.  And if I do not succeed, at least I have provided my readers with a sketch of a real cute kid, about which I have no qualms! I wonder where he went!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Montreal Fifty Years After EXPO 67; Sorry Mayor Drapeau

Fifty years ago this week , Thursday, April 27, 1967 to be precise, was the opening day of Montreal’s EXPO 67 World’s Fair. It was a General Exposition of the first category as decreed by the  Bureau International des Expositions (the first fair of this magnitude ever to be held in North America). The theme was Man and His World; the fair was open until October 29th and welcomed over 50 million visitors from across Canada and around the world. The city was on top of the world.

 It was Montreal at its best. Will new generations of Canadians and Montrealers ever see anything the likes of those days?

Ah nostalgia! That word, the etymology of which is often said to come from the Greek for “a painful yearning to return home” is just about all that remains today of EXPO. However I imagine other Montrealers have felt the pang of pride when overhearing tourists marvelling at Moshe Safdie‘s Habitat 67 which, along with Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome are among the few remaining EXPO buildings.  I was seven-years old in the summer of 1967 and spent many days with various family members visiting the numerous pavilions and soaking up the international environment. A half-century later, when I look back, I do so through the eyes of a child.

Habitat 67

Halcyon, salad, glory, or just plain ‘good old’, those days are indelibly etched in my memory. I suspect some of the warm fuzzy feelings of that year’s Summer of Love in the United States made the trek north with the many visitors to the fair.  It was Montreal at its best. Will new generations of Canadians and Montrealers ever see anything the likes of those days?  I fear not.

I cannot deny that I am out-of-step with what appears to be the general consensus of my fellow citizens today. Concerns about costs, noise, corruption, you name it, have exceeded our once prevailing desire to be host to the world. The late Jean Drapeau, who as mayor of Montreal was responsible for both EXPO 67 and the 76 Summer Olympics, planted the roots as he set out to make Montreal the “first city of the 21st century”. Alas financial and political insecurities during the eighties and nineties scuppered the mayor’s dream forever.

… projects of world-class proportions have been relegated to mere memories for most of us. That is a pity, but thankfully many of us of a certain age can think back to those days with pride and reflect on what grand memories they are.

As Canada marks its sesquicentennial this year, which sure does not roll off the tongue like centennial (I can’t imagine there will be too many Sesquicentennial High Schools or Sesquicentennial Bridges named), and Montreal celebrates its 350th anniversary I cannot help but feel saddened that the events planned are not on par with EXPO 67. With our current state of affairs, ranging from an ageing infrastructure to gentrification concerns (investment in neighbourhoods was once seen as a positive thing, if broken shop windows and graffiti are any indication the opposite is now true), projects of world-class proportions have been relegated to mere memories for most of us. That is a pity, but thankfully many of us of a certain age can think back to those days with pride and reflect on what grand memories they are.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Forty-five years ago today was Westmount Day at EXPO 67

Forty-five years ago today, October 17, 1967, was Westmount Day at EXPO 67. The City had spent the princely sum of $135,000 to sponsor the Plaza of the Universe at EXPO 67.

Montreal The Gazette March 21, 1967

The celebrations began at the Fair site and  continued in Westmount Park later in the day and into the evening. Although it was just a few days before the World’s Fair closed having had a surprising record breaking summer, I can remember as a young boy the excitement in the community.

Westmount Examiner October 19, 1967

The day itself, as I recall, was dull, cool and rainy but that didn’t keep too many people inside especially when the fireworks began. What was then the football field (now it would be more accurate to refer to it as the soccer field) in Westmount Park was the scene of the festivities.

The back of the main panel with the Canadian Centennial Maple Leaf

The Westmount Centennial Monument

The focal point of the evening was the official presentation of the Centennial Monument to the City of Westmount. It was a gift from the 3rd Field Engineer Regiment which has long been domiciled in the Hillside Armoury. Work had been carried out for most of the summer and the monument was ready to go on the 17th. Aside from the panels representing the provinces and territories there was a flagpole and Canadian flag. For many years that flag was taken down in the evenings and raised every morning as was the custom then. Today a flag still flies over the monument.

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Montreal, EXPO 67 and the van Ginkels

EXPO 67
Library and Archives Canada

There is a great piece in today’s The Gazette on the van Ginkels who created much of what Montreal is today. Not only the development of the old Port, but a major role in the biggest urban project the city has seen – EXPO 67.

The combination of creativity and a Mayor – Jean Drapeau – who wasn’t afraid to put Montreal on the world stage resulted in one of the most successful World’s fairs ever.

In 1962, the Soviet Union backed out of the 1967 World Exhibition,leaving the field open to Canada, which two years earlier had lost its bid to hold the ’67 event in Montreal. In November, Mayor Jean Drapeau flew to Paris with a proposal by Blanche and Daniel van Ginkel in his pocket – and Expo 67 was on.

“When the matter of an exhibition was broached, everybody assumed that it was going to be somewhere on the outskirts of the city, because the nearest international show of that kind (the 1964 World Exhibition) in New York, was on Flushing Meadows,” van Ginkel remembers.

“We weren’t going to have any of that.”

Will Montreal ever see anything like that again? One can only hope!!