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Jim

Unbuilt Pavilions

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I just read a piece indicating that there were a number of planned but never built pavilions.  One we've seen in another thread (The St. Lawrence Seaway Pavilion).  Another was a favorite of Mayor Jean Drapeau--the Paris-Montreal Tower.  The general idea of  the proposed tower did materialize as a part of the 1976 Olympic Stadium, however, although it took over a decade after the Olympic summer games for it to be completed.  In addition, Ireland and Costa Rica had planned pavilions along with a collection of Commonwealth nations not individually presented in pavilions of their own.  All three would have nicely fit in especially Ireland because about one third of Canada's immigrant population was of Irish ancestry.   Also, the World Wildlife Federation planned a pavilion which would have been a first for animal interests and rights at any international exposition.  Evidently, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and Simmons all planned pavilons.  Things like this always make me wonder what these three exhibits might have been and why they never proceeded with the plans.  However, my original thought is that their obvious commercialism would not have fit well into the exceptional international flavor of Expo.                                                                                                                                    

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There were several reason why these nations or companies back down. Ireland, Bresil and Poland all suffered a huge economic crisis (UK also but politically, they could not back down), several of the Latin countries between the signature of the contract and the actual building of their pavilion also back down but for political reason: most of them were either struggling with communist insurrection or were simply in a civil war. Some, like Spain or the Auto Industry (GM and Chrysler both reserved lot for their pavilions) lost so much money with the NY Fair that, for the auto industry, preferred to tone down their participation and join together to finance the Stadium, which is why it was named the Autostade – and for Spain to not participate at all (they did come back several time for Man and His World though).

And you’re right – the severe non-commercialism clauses in the contract made it hard or even impossible for several companies to participate at Expo.

As for what their pavilion looked like, several of them went into pre-design and I already found a lot of plans and detailed sketches of them. I already published several documents covering them (sorry, only in French for now) but the plans will still give you a good idea of what they would have loked like.

You can get access to my documents, in .pdf format (which are and will remain free of charge) at these addresses:

The Montreal-Paris tower (actually, the 7 tower projects for Expo 67!): http://www.villes-ephemeres.org/2013/12/nouvelle-fiche-les-sept-projets-de.html 

The General Commissioner Pavilion: http://www.villes-ephemeres.org/2016/10/nouvelle-fiche-le-palais-du-commissaire.html

The Trade Unions Pavilions: http://www.villes-ephemeres.org/2016/10/nouvelle-fiche-le-palais-du-travail-non_10.html

The Art of Living Pavilion (theme pav.) : http://www.villes-ephemeres.org/2016/10/nouvelle-fiche-pavillon-lart-de-vivre.html

I also produced a set of plans of the site that shows through the planning years, the evolution of the pavilion placement, including those that never came to MTL but had reserved a site: http://www.villes-ephemeres.org/2017/03/nouvelle-fiche-evolution-du-plan-de.html

Some, like IBM, decided afterward not to build a pavillon but instead lowned an IBM 360 mainframe for Expo use

I’m still working on the others – researching the plans and such…

Roger

evolution.JPG.a39bbf4814b8aab0357f16b98012b2c7.JPG

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" And you’re right – the severe non-commercialism clauses in the contract made it hard or even impossible for several companies to participate at Expo."

Perhaps that is too bad. As the NYWF demonstrated, the big companies can produce some excellent exhibits. Of course, they tend to oversell how educational their pavilions are, but the fact is that the greatest impact on the public that can be had is to merely get the thought of important topics to enter their minds. Attempting to make an exhibit into a seminar will be counterproductive. I once went to a Jaques Cousteau exhibit that had so much text on the walls, it would take you three days to read it all. My only thought was that they were not educating anyone who wasn't already intensely interested and spending lots of time on the subject.

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Except that Expo 67 wanted to be anything but the NYWF - Basically, Seatlle's Fair and the Swiss exhibition at Lausane, in 64 had more influence in Montreal than the NYWF - The extreme popularity of Expo 67 and the way it was celebrated this year tend to show that, at the time, it was the right choice. This also played a part in the instant succes of  La Ronde - a way to balance the educative and intelectual approach in the pavilions with a breath of fresh air and fun at La Ronde. Bob Kennedy, during is visit to expo 67 with his kids did exactly that: after several hours visiting the pavilions he decided that it was time for him and his kids to relax and have fun...  and spent the afternoon in the attractions at La Ronde 

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Expo '70 was probably the best example of combing the best of New York and Montreal.  Great corporate pavilions by Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc. balanced with national pavilions of the US, USSR, Britain, etc.

 

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Roger, you have nailed it.  Expo tried to distance itself from the NYWF and Expo organizers and leaders did not even wish to use the phrase "world's fair."   I am also interested in your observation of La Ronde.  It was instantly popular but it was quite a distance from the rest of Expo.  One had to make a clear decision to spend time at La Ronde.  It had the Expo flavor but it was all amusement park as it was intended to be.  One comparison I think of is The Midway at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  It was the first great amusement zone at an international exposition and it as purposely placed in a location quite separate from the heart of the exposition.  It was a world of its own.  This is how La Ronde was designed for Expo.

There is a photograph of Robert Kennedy and his kids on La Pitoune in 1967 and they are having a good time.  

I knew the stadium was called Autostade but had never given much thought as to why.  The major US auto companies spent a fortune for the NY fair but the payback could not have been great.  The future of automobiles that they envisioned was upturned in the next few years by rising fuel costs, vehicle safety concerns, a flood of imports and the downsizing of automobiles.  When I think back fifty years, I cannot begin to imagine such corporate behemoths competing for attention with the international flavor of Expo.  They just would not have fit in very well.

Thank you for all of the information you are sharing with us.  It's amazing to think that this time in October of 1967, Expo had three weeks to go and it was closing in on the fifty million mark.  

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I think the idea that the absence of the big manufacturers was well planned is overstated, since the record clearly shows that there were ideas of them participating at first. The explanation of their commercialism eventually being rejected, however, does make sense; it seems that a mutual disagreement developed. As far as them being concerned about the returns from the NYWF, it has been discussed here many times that the NYWF got them some of the cheapest publicity they could imagine, even with the attendance 25 million below the rosy predictions. After that, they may have been concerned about possible overestimates in Montreal, and missed the opportunity when attendance went as high as it did.

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Well, however it played out or why, I think Expo fared better without more corporate exhibits especially American companies.  The result was a truly Canadian event with spectacular international participation.  And the results were breathtaking.

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There's little doubt that in the midst of the 60's Quebec separatist movement, there was considerable anti-American feeling there in Montreal too.  I'm not sure how much the other English-speaking provinces shared in that, but it was there in Quebec.  And Americans probably cared as little about the Quebec independence cause as they do about the Catalonian "cause" these days in Spain.  In both cases, it was an "internal matter" of a foreign country that doesn't involve U.S. interests at all, so it's easy to just ignore it.  "Don't have a dog in that fight" is apropos.

 

Every international expo is different in a lot of ways.  New York was strong on cutting edge technology and innovation.  Montreal's forte was international showcases.  It doesn't mean that one is better than the other.  What a great chance to enjoy BOTH types, and so close together too!

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1 hour ago, Randy Treadway said:

  What a great chance to enjoy BOTH types, and so close together too!

I'll second that - the more I learn about Expo, the more I wish I could have gone to Montreal.

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In truth, the Quebec separatist movement was not remotely active in 1967.  Canadians often refer to 1967 as "the last good year."  The Parti Quebecois did not yet exist and eight months after Expo ended its run, Pierre Trudeau, a remarkable combination of Anglophone and Francophone Canada and his Liberals were swept into office. Mr Trudeau once said while speaking to a crowd at the Forum in Montreal:  "My name is Pierre Elliott Trudeau.  I am Canada," in reference to his English middle name and French last name.  

There was no anti-American sentiment in Quebec to speak of.  There were anti-Vietnam War sentiments, but no episodes of anti-Americanism I've ever heard of or read about.  Expo was heavily marketed to the US Northeast and hundreds of thousands of US citizens converged on Montreal and were warmly welcomed.  When Mrs. Kennedy and, earlier, Senator Robert Kennedy visited Expo, tens of thousands of Canadians cheered them.  Even LBJ received a warm welcome.  US television shows broadcast from Expo throughout 1967.  Three US states had pavilions at Expo.  Americans learned a great deal about Canada that year and US visitors were treated with great respect. 

The license plates, the year before, still read "La Belle Province"--a welcoming greeting.  For one year they read Expo 67 and Confederation.  They would return to La Belle Province for a few more years before Je Me Souviens appeared on the tags--a clear reference to the French history of Quebec many Francophones believed had been lost on the Plains of Abraham during the Seven Years (French and Indian) War.

It would be incorrect to confuse Canadian pride with anti-American sentiment.  Expo gave Canadians a new sense of self.  They had a brand new flag; it was their centennial year and Expo sparked a dynamism Canada had never really felt before.  That nation of 20 million people had pulled off the absolute impossible.  They built an exposition that shattered attendance records and became the most significant world exposition of the Twentieth Century.  Canada had emerged on the world stage.  Almost any Canadian would say that two precise moments defined Canada in the 20th Century:  The 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge (fifty years prior to Expo) and Expo itself.  

If Canadians preferred Expo's style and focus to that of the New York Fair which had failed to attract the predicted crowds, that was not anti-Americanism.  It was a good practical decision.  Rather than pavilions celebrating American corporate achievements, Expo focused on Canadian interests and international cooperation on an epic scale.

Evidence of the sense of nationalism felt by Canadians, including those who lived in Quebec, would be the outrage when Charles de Gaulle shouted "Vive le Quebec Libre" from the Montreal City Hall in July of 1967 and, while some Francophones cheered him, he was bashed by the Quebec and Ottawa government, the press and asked to leave Canada.  He did the next day.

Things changed after 1967 just as they did in the US.  The last two years of the decade were turbulent and 1970 was violent (Kent State in the US, and the murder of Pierre Laporte whose body was actually found at Man and His World in an automobile trunk).  It was the terrorist group, the FLQ, which claimed responsibility and PM Trudeau instituted martial law in Montreal. The Parti-Quebecois formed and tried to lead Quebec out of Canada but was often thwarted by Mr Trudeau who made Canada bilingual, allowed for special recognition of Quebec cultural differences, gave Canada a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and made Canada a Federation for the first time.

I do not know about the impact of the separatist movement in Quebec on the rest of the US, but it gained significant attention in the US Northeast and NYS in particular.  An independent Quebec, even though it would have likely included the St. Lawrence River Valley and no more (not even Montreal which twice voted to reject separation) would have had profound impact on trade, the Seaway, hydroelectric power (Marcy South originates in Quebec), tourism, rail traffic--you name it--on New York State and its 20 million people.

I've taught Canadian history, so this explains my comments here.  Also, I visited both expositions.  I was most fortunate to have had two such experiences.  I had a good time in New York.  I enjoyed it very much although I knew, at 13, that there was just too much corporate hype and very few international exhibits.  But Expo took my breath away when I was 15. Montreal was the coolest place I had ever visited.  I got to see more of the world than I have been able to see since then.  I loved Expo.

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Being a French Montrealer, who worked at Expo in 67, at the age of 13  (and MaHW from 68 to 73) it's not very easy for me to really be impartial but I agree completely with Jim's analysis. As an historian who have been working on International exhibits for the past 10 years, I believe that every exhibition must respond to the moment, to the host country but also to the population that welcomes the exhibition. If you look at the exhibitions that took place after WWII, up to Expo 70, each was very different in their approach and each had large success with their visitors and that is enough for me to state that all of these exhibitions had their success. Expo 67 would not have worked at NY and vice versa. To often exhibitions are compared quality wise but to be honest, it can't be done. But one thing that still make the Montreal Expo 67 a bit different is the way that the citizens embraced the exhibition - we were not only extremely proud of it but we basically invaded the site every day - when Expo opened, expo bashing was never heard in Montreal (and the province) - except maybe for Logexpo, but that's another story.

As for an anti-american feeling in Montreal in 1967, that is not true. As Jim pointed out, the Anti-Vietnam war feeling was very strong but it was not directed against the US as such. Actually, the "american invasion" that came with Expo 67 was not only welcomed but contributed a lot in a better understanding of each other. 

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Thank you, Roger, you've given me more insight.  I love your phrase, American invasion.  It must have felt like that.  And I love the description of Montrealers "invading" their Expo site every day. They must have done just that and look at the incredible results.  I will add one more thought.  I am one of millions of Americans who "invaded" Montreal in 1967 and who fell in love with that city and with Canada.

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I was lucky enough to live close enough to the New York Fair that I lost track of the number of my visits.  I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to stay with a family friend in Montreal and spend a week at expo67....and returned a year later for a day at the first season of Man and His World.

As others have said, both were magical places and had very different vibes.  In retrospect, expo67 was more well-designed and New York's was garish, but the adventures to be had in and around their respective pavilions were glorious!

Thanks to this site and other online resources, we have an incredible amount of material at our fingertips... a far cry from the few ephemera I had kept and the occasional Fair retrospective exhibits I managed to attend at the Flushing Town Hall and the Queens Museum.

The flat park that tops the old Corona Dump is hallowed ground; I feel its electricity every time I step into the park.

I haven't revisited the expo site since 1968; judging from the pictures I've seen i'd feel very out-of-joint if I visited it today.

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