BID TO HOLD THE WORLD'S FAIR IN MONTREAL
Where does a bid for a World's Fair come from? Is it a stroke of genius? Sometimes perhaps, but more often than not it requires a great deal of thought and determination. In the case of Expo 67, a number of people, apparently in the 1950s, put forward the idea of holding the World's Fair in Montreal to mark Canada's centenary. The idea was publicly expressed by Senator Mark Drouin on August 25, 1958, which was Canada Day at the World's Fair in Brussels. From then on, Mayor Sarto Fournier was keen on the idea and the Montreal city council passed a resolution asking the Executive Board to develop a bid for Montreal to host the fair.
In the two years that followed, the City of Montreal, with the help of Montreal's business community and the Government of Quebec, continued to lobby the federal government for its support. The government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially endorsed the bid in February 1960. The federal government would provide $20 million, the Quebec government would provide $15 million while the City of Montreal would spend $5 million.
The Government of Canada submitted Montreal's bid to the International Exhibitions Bureau (IEB) in Paris in March 1960. The candidates in the running were Canada, Austria and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The hopeful delegation included Robert Campbell-Smith, trade commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Paris, James A. Roberts, Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce of Canada, Paul Beaulieu, Quebec Minister of Trade, and Mayor of Montreal Sarto Fournier. At the request of the USSR, the vote was delayed to May 5, 1960.
A new delegation was making the trip to Paris again on May 1, 1960, when Austria withdrew Vienna's bid. The new delegation was headed by William Hamilton, Postmaster General, and included in particular Pierre Sévigny, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister Paul Beaulieu, trade commissioner Robert Campbell-Smith and Mayor Sarto Fournier. After a close vote, Moscow won in the fifth round by sixteen votes to fourteen. What a tremendous disappointment it was for the Canadian delegation.
Two years later there was a dramatic turnaround. Montreal got a second chance when the City of Moscow withdrew in April 1962. In May of that year, the IEB unanimously decided to award the World's Fair to Canada and not to accept any further bids until November 13, when it was scheduled to meet. Jean Drapeau, elected as Mayor of Montreal in October 1960, and the Liberal government of Jean Lesage in Quebec City were delighted. Through Minister Pierre Sévigny, the Diefenbaker government once again endorsed Montreal's bid. On November 13, 1962, the new Canadian delegation finally had cause to celebrate: Montreal was officially awarded the 1967 World's Fair.