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Bill Cotter

Biosphere - after the fire

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I remember it when it was abandoned and decaying. It was odd to see remnants of the show elements sitting inside. I'm glad they were able to find a new use for it.

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It was the second major fire at the former Expo site. The Ontario pavilion was destroyed in a massive blaze in 1975.

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Here is one picture of the Ontario pavilion fire in 1975.[quote name='Bill Cotter' timestamp='1297235166' post='86270']

Do you know of any pictures of that fire, Jim?

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Bill, that is the only photograph I have ever seen of the Ontario Pavilion fire. I found that same photo on the Archives Canada website devoted to Expo 67. I do recall reading that the fire started in the early AM and I am not sure who might have even been on the scene. The pavilion roof was a bit like the roof of the West German pavilion--the same type of material I think, and I would bet it was extremely flammable. In any event, the entire structure was quickly lost. I wonder if the Montreal Gazette has any photographs of this fire in their archives.

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No, I don't know what happened exactly with this one. But if I remember well this area of Man & His World was close that year.

That was quite a blaze. Do you know how that one got started?

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It makes sense that Ile Notre Dame was closed in 1975 When I saw it in July of 1976, the structures on that island were looking very forlorn. Even the largest of the pavilions were empty and dark. I rode the Mini-Train through area at dusk and it was completely deserted.

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From what I heard Île Notre-Dame area was completely closed after 1972 because the City of Montreal started to remove the pavilions in the way of the Olympic facilities in 1973 and did the construction work in 1974 and 1975. This area of Man & His World reopened only in 1980 for the "Floralies" after another massive pavilions destruction that occured in 1979. The "Katimavik" of Canadian pavilion was demolished in 1978 to make room for the "Grand Prix" racetrack. And as you now know the Ontario pavilion burned in 1975.

It makes sense that Ile Notre Dame was closed in 1975 When I saw it in July of 1976, the structures on that island were looking very forlorn. Even the largest of the pavilions were empty and dark. I rode the Mini-Train through area at dusk and it was completely deserted.

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Thank you for that good information. It all makes sense as regards the timing of the demolition. Of all of the pavilions that were one-by-one demolished, I would imagine that the destruction of the Katimavik was the most painful. What a loss that was. It was such an iconic structure and if Expo had a signature image, the Katimavik might have been it. It appeared on the official Expo 67 Canadian postage stamp and it appeared on so many other Expo items and souvenirs. Canadians were so proud of that pavilion and rightly so. It must have been so difficult to destroy that building.

Katimavik is an Inuit word meaning "gathering place." Today, Katimavik is a government supported program aimed at recruiting Canadian youth to serve their nation a bit like Americorps is in the States. In that sense, the legacy of that pavilion lives on.

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Katimavik was demolished because of structural issues, not to make way for the racetrack. The steal beams at the base had become unstable. The racetrack did not cause the demolition of any pavilions, and was carefully built around pavilions. When the racetrack was built, there was still serious hope to re-open what was left of Ile Notre Dame as an additional exhibit area for Man and His World.

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