Sunday, July 03, 2011

New Contributor: Anne McDonald on Expo 67 and 1867

With this post prairie writer Anne McDonald joins our group of occasional blog contributors.  Anne is a psychologist, sometime comedian, teacher, and historical novelist, now based in Saskatchewan .  More about Anne at her website.

My interest lies in important parties, as in fetes, of Canada’s past. One of the biggest parties Canada ever had, was Expo ’67. I turned seven just before the centennial. Seven is an interesting age – it is when we begin to look at the world outside ourselves and see how we fit. At seven we start the journey to rational adulthood, yet still have the optimism and exuberance of youth – and I think a country turning 100 is the same thing as a person turning seven. And Expo ’67 in Montreal was just that – exuberant and optimistic (of course it was the height of the 60s) and Canada finding her place in the world.

From the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition:
“Canada is a land radiant with promise, bountiful and big ... . (Expo) will be held from April 28 to October 27, 1967 ... and will be the largest international exhibition ever held ... and is the only ‘first category’ world exhibition ever authorized outside of Europe. ...

 ‘Man and His World’ – the theme of the 1967 Universal and International Exhibition – was inspired by the title of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s book Terre des Hommes, (the title in English is Wind, Sand and Stars).” Thus the theme of Expo was, in Saint-Exupery’s words, “To be a man is to feel that through one’s contribution one helps to build the World”.
    Exuberance and optimism defined.

And what is a party without a cake! My mother snuck through the lines and caught this picture of Canada’s cake on July 1st, 1967 at Canada Place, Expo. The MP in the middle is Bryce Mackasey, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour.

Meanwhile, back at the original Confederation Day on Monday July 1st, 1867, the Globe came out (which is where this comes from, available online to subscribers at universities and the Toronto Public Library, and this special Confederation Day posting
“As the town clock struck midnight, and the Dominion of Canada began its legal existence, the bells of St. James’ Cathedral ... sent forth a merry peal. Bonfires were lighted in various parts of the city (Toronto), small arms went off as rapidly as pop guns ...”
     And from the next column: “Confederation Day in Toronto, The Programme of Rejoicing:  Today, our loyal city will bear her part in celebrating an occasion destined in the future annals of these Provinces to be marked as a red letter day for all time. ... At 6 o’clock a.m. an immense ox [a very fine one it was noted later] will be roasted by Capt. Woodhouse, of the barque Lord Nelson, at the foot of Church street. ...

The Directors of the Horticultural Society have prepared a most attractive evening of entertainment.” The bands of the 17th and 18th Hussars were there to draw large crowds and afterwards would ‘supply music for dancing.’
In addition, illuminations and fireworks will be indulged in to a considerable extent.

Should the cake have been in the shape of an ox?
Follow @CmedMoore