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FROM THE Heritage Minutes COLLECTION
A part of our heritage...
There was much to celebrate in the year of Canada's Centennial, but its crowning achievement was Expo 67, one of the greatest birthday parties in history. One of the most successful international exhibitions of the 20th Century, Expo 67 gave Montréal the opportunity to show itself as an international city and proved once and for all that Canada had come of age.
But the story of Expo 67 must begin with the fact that it almost didn't happen at all. The Canadian government's application to the International Exhibitions Bureau in Paris for the right to hold a "first-category" exhibition, as this was called, was rejected in favour of the U.S.S.R, which was marking the 50th anniversary of the Communist regime. However, when the staggering costs forced Moscow to withdraw their bid, Canada re-applied and was selected.
The controversy and friction about the fair then began in earnest. Montréal mayor, Jean Drapeau, came up with the idea of enlarging Ile Ste Hélène, an island park in the St. Laurence, and adding another island to become the fair site. His plan was met with skepticism and derision by almost everyone. But Drapeau and his engineers persevered, and began the momentous task of filling the river with 25 million tons of earth to create a magnificent and unique locale.
The choice of the islands in the St. Lawrence River for the location also carried historical significance for Canada. As an important trade route, and the access point for early immigrants, the St. Lawrence symbolizes the link between Canada and the world.
But the real meaning of Expo 67 came from the theme itself, a clear representation of the optimism of the time. "Man and his World" was the official title, and the fair guides explained it in this way: "It will tell the story of man's exploration of the physical world, his drive to discover, understand and produce; of how he assimilates, organizes and uses his knowledge to improve his lot and how, as a social being, he has sought and still seeks to live in peace and harmony with his fellow man."
Expo 67 was a huge success. It changed the world's view of Canada, and more importantly, it changed our view of ourselves. Expo brought us together for the first time in mutual pride and appreciation for our talents and accomplishments.
Heritage Minute Cast