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expo67: A Virtual Experience
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From its early days, a great deal has been written about Expo 67. Some journalists and even some politicians were initially opposed to the fact that the event would be held during Canada's centennial year. Others saw this as yet another opportunity to celebrate and strengthen our national unity. The appointment of the first commissioner general, Paul Bienvenu, and of deputy commissioner general Cecil Carsley, in 1963, also caused quite a stir. These two then stepped down, faced with an almost insurmountable workload and because they were unable to agree on where to hold the event. Moreover, the World Fair held in New York in 1964 and 1965 was disappointing in many ways and led some Canadian journalists to fear the worst for the event in Montreal. As well, the name Expo 67 did not meet with unanimous approval as it was feared that the public would not understand it.

The development of the site on the islands (Sainte-Hélène and Notre-Dame) was often viewed as a slightly crazy idea and the costs of such an undertaking put many people off. Everyone made predictions, often pessimistic ones. Progress on the site, the number of visitors who would visit Montreal, the effectiveness of the advertising and the availability of sufficient accommodations for tourists were all topics of debate. The Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, was the key figure journalists associated most closely with Expo 67, and so he was most often the target of attacks or congratulations, in spite of the fact that a large team was at work on Expo.

One year before the official opening, on April 27, 1966, several newspapers produced a special issue about the event. Pierre Dupuy, the commissioner general, was even invited by the newspaper Le Devoir to submit an editorial. Media scepticism apparently abated as soon as it became clear that Expo would be ready on schedule, either in late 1966 or early 1967. The enthusiasm of the American press tipped the scales. The confirmed representation of sixty or so countries; the largest opera, theatre and dance companies; the most prestigious orchestras and the biggest names on the national and international arts scenes no doubt contributed to this shift in opinion.

In spite of a few problems, such as the shortage of accommodation, the lack of restaurant services and the public transportation strike, most Canadian journalists gave Expo 67 positive press during the six months it was open. Newspapers not only reported on the tremendous success of the event, but also on the ever-increasing number of visitors who rushed to Man and His World. Montreal's La Presse newspaper even coined a new word for visitors to Expo: Expovores! Very apt indeed!



News Headlines

"In Expo
Canada came of age
The Globe and Mail

"In Praise of
the World Festival
The Winnipeg Free Press

"Expo Runs Out Of Time Sunday - But The Smell
Of Success Will Linger On
The Winnipeg Free Press

"Expo-an eye-popping visit
for Ottawa students
The Ottawa Citizen

"Expo 67"
The Calgary Herald

"Expo Triumph"
The Calgary Herald

"Colorful ceremonies bring Expo 67 to an end"
The Leader-Post, Regina

"Expo 67 was success beyond wildest dreams"
The Leader-Post, Regina

"Expo: a season for all men"
The Edmonton Journal

"This is Expo's Great Flaw"
The Telegraph Journal, Saint John

"The police worked,
but had it easy
("Sans chômer, les policiers ont eu la partie belle")
La Presse, Montréal

"Expo revealed a people with
great intellectual potential
("L'Expo a révélé un peuple qui a d'immenses possibilités intellectuelles")
La Presse, Montréal

"Expo gave Canada
its confidence back
(L'Expo 67 a redonné confiance au Canada")
Le Soleil, Québec

"A Permanent Expo"
(L'Expo permanente")
Le Soleil, Québec

"Curtain falls on
Montreal's love affair
The Montreal Star

"Whose? His? Hers?
No, Expo Is Mine!
The Montreal Star

"Good-bye Expo,
and Thank You
("Adieu et Merci, Expo")
Journal de Montréal

"Expo will have been useless if we forget its lessons!"
("L'Expo aura été inutile si nous ne profitons pas de ses leçons!")
Journal de Montréal


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