The 1967 International and Universal Exposition
July 12, 2011 8:20 PM   Subscribe

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. (previously)

Jeffrey Stanton has good articles on the construction, architecture, and multi-screen cinemas.

Bonus trivia: Robert Altman's 1979 post-Ice Age apocalypse film Quintet was filmed in the Expo's wintertime ruins. He liked one pavilion's 18-foot tall glass photomurals so much that he salvaged them from demolition and installed them in his apartment.
posted by Trurl (42 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Booth babes
posted by Trurl at 8:21 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I respectfully submit that the Chicago World's Fair is a better contender for best world fair, with a delightful amalgam of Wild Bill, Hottentots, serial killings, Scott Joplin and the original Ferris Wheel. And they concluded it by assassinating the mayor. Beat that Canada!
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 8:40 PM on July 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Aaaaand first comment is somebody from the U.S. saying this thing from the U.S. is better.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:51 PM on July 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


My mom can still sing this song. And does. To my horror.

Based upon that alone, I am willing to agree that Chicago's Murder Fair is superior, despite its inclusion of ragtime.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:57 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Expo 67 is this place where I imagine could have been something amazing, it was the first time we were ourselves, not a colony. also, FUCK WAS THE GRAPHIC DESIGN BEAUTIFUL.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:58 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here, Alvy, try this instead.
posted by maudlin at 8:59 PM on July 12, 2011


Aaaaand first comment is somebody from the U.S. saying this thing from the U.S. is better.

Oh lighten up, Fran├žois. I think the Expo was outstanding as well.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 9:01 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Free the Expo 67.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:09 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Best World's Fair has to be Expo 86 in Vancouver, because I got to go to that one. Plus, Expo 86 had Steam Expo with many working steam locomotives and steam tractors on display.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:10 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The declaration of best world's fair ever is a contest that will never be won. I got yelled at by a French woman once for not having having Paris Expo (1889) items for sale because it, clearly was the best exposition ever. She even objected to the term "World's Fair" as a barbarianism.

I asked her about the 1937 Paris Expo, where the Communist and Nazi pavilions were across from each other and each was built to try and literally overshadow the other and were involved in a fierce propaganda battle, and which France spent lavishly on in an attempt to puff themselves up to show the rest of the world they were still great. She wanted nothing to do with that one because the Nazis had ruined it for everyone.

I actually think Expo 67 was the probably last truly great World's Fair because it had it's feet in the traditional World's Fair Model of "This is who we are - who we were - who we will be. Let us show you wonderful new things and unusual things from around the world." What subsequent planners of world fairs seems to have learned from it was how to turn a world's fair into a PR/branding exercise for the country - a "Hey! Look at us and see how wonderful we are" (think Spain in 1992).

Expo 67 had the same sort of impact on Canada that the 1933 (Chicago) and 1939 (NY) fairs had on America, which is not to be underestimated.
posted by julen at 9:18 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Personally, as a Canadian, I wonder how many times this country needs to "come of age"?
posted by aclevername at 9:19 PM on July 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


A fashion disaster for any season!
posted by phooky at 9:20 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Montreal: dome

Chicago: no dome
posted by Trurl at 9:25 PM on July 12, 2011


A fashion disaster for any season!

That white raincoat has a pretty snazzy hood. Very fashion-forward, for its time. Almost Pierre Cardinesque, in how I hear Moog being played in the background...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:26 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A fashion win for the baseball season!
posted by not_on_display at 9:28 PM on July 12, 2011


The best World's Fair ever, until the next one.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:31 PM on July 12, 2011


Personally, as a Canadian, I wonder how many times this country needs to "come of age"?

And it still hasn't grown the fuck up. Get it together, Canada! This shit you've been pulling lately has been the equivalent of smoking without inhaling, it's time to put on the big kid pants... oh, who am I kidding?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:31 PM on July 12, 2011


Any exposition is useless without a Sunsphere.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually went to this fair as a child. I still remember the large geodesic dome.
posted by Brian B. at 9:57 PM on July 12, 2011


1967. Turned 15. Took acid (sorry, wrong thread). Sgt. Pepper's came out. The USA was in a terrible war. I went to the greatest World's Fair ever (hey, I wasn't in Chicago in 1893, St. Louis in 1904, Paris, Tokyo, etc....I was in NYC in 1964. A little commercial, but OK. I also missed hanging with Breton, Desnos, Bunuel and Ernst in Paris in the Twenties, due to an accident of birth...)

But Expo '67 was fantastic. Habitat, Kaleidoscope, countless wonderful experimental film formatting, the best people watching ever, nice homey Morocco under a tent...

Funny, the one that stands out most in my mind was what I remembered to be the Czechoslovakian pavilion, with a powerfully charming three-screen live-action/cinematic show which I can't find anywhere on the Internet and which I could sketch on a cocktail napkin but would take too long to explain in words. It doesn't match what the links describe at all. Was it a dream?

Of course, we had to go to the USSR's pavilion, about Ivan and his Glorious Tractor, but otherwise, film, people, chocolate-covered bananas, people, people, films, color, colour, people, films, countries...my brain just about blew up it was so wonderful.
posted by kozad at 10:01 PM on July 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was there. Eight years old. The Gyotron was cool.

"Gyrotron is unique, a $3,000,000 ride of the future suggesting outer space and the unknown. It puts the passenger into "orbit," dumps him into a hissing, spitting volcano to be swallowed by a huge monster living within in it. It's the fantasy of another world."
posted by philip-random at 10:05 PM on July 12, 2011


I remember it too. Buckminster Fuller's dome, habitat, everything so large, bold, and so exciting. I remember feeling such excitement and optimism about the future!

My father had press credentials so we were able to get special access to some exhibits. Don't remember any of that, but I do remember laughing at him when he tried to impress us with his savoir faire by ordering in French, only to discover that our waitress was Norwegian.
posted by jasper411 at 10:15 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Montreal: dome

Chicago: no dome


I'll reveal my age by mentioning I went to both the '64-'65 NY World's Fair and Expo as a kid and so think of course they were both the best ever, but yes: the dome is a great legacy (I'm seeing an event there this Friday by the always entertaining Ninjatune DJ Kid Koala), even if much of the rest of it was needlessly abandoned to ruin (don't get me started on Montreal city management of the 60's and 70's - hell, even now) and the French Pavilion is now a casino that, according to locals, is responsible for the sad demise of horse track betting on the island...

Coming into the dome on a monorail @ age 12 was definitely a junior scifi geek experience...
posted by Philofacts at 10:42 PM on July 12, 2011


Booth Babes

...backs slowly out of conversation.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:46 PM on July 12, 2011


I love Montreal's architecture of that era: the metro, and this masterpiece of a building. (not the 1920s renaissance style exterior so much, but the interior completed in 1967).
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:29 PM on July 12, 2011


Fuck art, let's rock
posted by qinn at 12:41 AM on July 13, 2011


I was there. I was enamoured with Habitat. I thought Moshe Safdie was some kind of Howard Roark (yeah, hate to admit it, drama-teen girl Ayn Rand faze).
posted by Surfurrus at 2:30 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Expo gave us the Alfa Romeo Montreal, too.
posted by sonascope at 3:07 AM on July 13, 2011


For Centennial Year, send President Johnson a gift: an American tourist's ear in a matchbox. Even better, don't bother with the postage.
Ray Smith, Cape Breton is the Thought Control Center of Canada
posted by CCBC at 3:25 AM on July 13, 2011


I remember that. And nothing that's come since has seemed to matter much. Folks used to say it was because of Epcot being essentially, a permanent world's fair. Now folks don't seem to mention expos at all.
posted by Goofyy at 3:37 AM on July 13, 2011


Hmmm. I think the fact that Toronto quite badly wanted the Expo in 2006 shows that the 'coming of age' thing hasn't quite happened yet.
posted by garlicsmack at 5:26 AM on July 13, 2011


Robert Altman's 1979 post-Ice Age apocalypse film Quintet was filmed in the Expo's wintertime ruins.

Bonus bonus trivia: the Expo's ruins were also used in an episode of the original Battlestar Galactica.

Toddler me was at Expo '67. I still have my Expo flag. I've got boxes of slides my dad took at the Expo and they all look so future-y and amazing. Whenever I look at them I start humming Fagen's "I.G.Y."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:37 AM on July 13, 2011


Such a high-water mark for the city, probably even more so than the Olympics. And after that, a long, long decline, which maybe didn't finally end until after the '95 Referendum.

Still -- there was a lot of magic to Expo. It boggles the mind that it's all gone, gone, gone. Aside from the France Pavilion, Bucky's geodesic dome (or what was left after the fire), La Ronde and some token other things -- all that glory simply vanished.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:51 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember my dad going to Expo 86. He brought me back a teddy bear that wore an Expo 86 t-shirt, that I then gave to his dog. That dog loved that teddy bear so damn much. I wonder whatever happened to it (since the dog is now a good 10 years gone, it was probably chucked).
posted by antifuse at 7:05 AM on July 13, 2011


Expo '67 is a Flickr group devoted to the Expo.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:16 AM on July 13, 2011


I'm just going to chime in to say the 1939 New York World's Fair needs to be on anybody's list of "Best World's Fairs Ever".

or what was left after the fire

The Buckydome is still pretty cool, even without the skin. The "Biosphere" museum that occupies the building is fun for kids, but I enjoyed just sitting on a bench on one of the upper levels, looking out at the city through the structure of the dome itself and wishing it was 1967 all over again.
posted by briank at 8:47 AM on July 13, 2011


The Buckydome is still pretty cool, even without the skin.

Oh, absolutely. I enjoyed being there at night, and trying to find the rare pentagons connecting the larger panels of so many hexagons. Maddening, but so rewarding.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:55 AM on July 13, 2011


I was there. And again three years later, when what was left was called "Man And His World" -- best thing about the subsequent visit was the Man the Explorer pavilion and its "Polar Life" film, which was renamed "Chimo!"
posted by Rash at 11:13 AM on July 13, 2011


Another film to see what's left is Afterglow from 1997 -- one of the characters lives in Habitat, which it seems was repainted a depressing beigey-brown color from its original, shining 'World of Tomorrow' white.
posted by Rash at 11:19 AM on July 13, 2011


So to be clear....this is not about Baseball in Canada?!
posted by Fizz at 6:25 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Expo 88 in Brisbane, Australia had an incredible impact. Probably the most fundamental change to the city in it's history, I'd say. World Fairs are not to be sniffed at.
posted by h00py at 5:48 AM on July 14, 2011


Meet me in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair...
posted by cereselle at 12:24 PM on July 14, 2011


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