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During a boat ride on the St. Lawrence, Port of Montreal Director Guy Beaudet suggested to Mayor Jean Drapeau that the island site (Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Ronde) would be the perfect place to hold Expo 67. This idea of putting the islands to use was not new. Many others had suggested developing them, particularly in the late 19th century, during the Depression in the 1930s as a way to create work for the unemployed. Early in 1963, a firm of architects in Saint-Bruno suggested using the site for the 1967 World Exhibition. However, this site did not receive unanimous approval. Some people claimed that it would be too costly to expand the islands, and that it was ridiculous to create a site from scratch when other sites were available.

Another architectural firm proposed the use of various sites along the river bank and in the Pointe-Saint-Charles area. The architects claimed that this would revitalize the area. Using these sites would have entailed many expropriations which would have been onerous and complicated from a legal standpoint. Furthermore, having visitors spread out at different locations was not desirable. Other sites on the Island of Montreal, such as Maisonneuve Park or Domaine Beïque in La Salle were also considered.

On March 22, 1963, the City of Montreal, the Government of Quebec, and the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition, a federal agency, agreed on a development plan for the islands. The Mackay Pier, a part of the Port of Montreal, was also made available to the directors of the exhibition. How different Expo 67 might have looked had another site been chosen!

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