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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Memories of Expo 67

Happy Canada Day. If you're a certain age, you'll watch this video and remember every image vividly; for those of us who were kids in 1967, Centennial Year is etched in our memories.

I was eight years old in 1967, and our elementary school in St Catharines, Ontario was consumed with Centennial madness that year. The entire school was decorated with patriotic displays and Canadian flags. Each class had to prepare a bulletin board display on one of the provinces or territories; my class had Alberta. I thought "Oh please, not Alberta! Why couldn't we have one of the cool provinces, like British Columbia?"  I was jealous of the class across the hall that got the Yukon Territory - now that was a place worthy of a bulletin board. At least we didn't get Saskatchewan, for heaven's sake. My teacher that year, Miss Francechini, wore miniskirts and go-go boots and had a beehive hairdo - I thought she looked like a movie star. My father flirted with her at parent-teacher interviews and I thought "Boy, you're going to be in trouble with Mom when we get home."

We sang  Bobby Gimby's song Canada incessantly that year - it seemed as important as the national anthem, and I had the impression that there was something a little creepy about Bobby Gimby. When we weren't singing Canada, we were singing A Place To Stand, Ontario's official Centennial song with it's nursery-rhyme chorus "Ontari-ari-ari-o".

My parents took us to Montreal to visit Expo 67 that summer along the newly-completed Highway 401 in an epic voyage that seemed to go on forever. We stayed overnight at my aunt & uncle's place in Beaconsfield Quebec, practically throbbing with excitement, and then ventured to St Helen's Island the next morning on the groovy Metro. My mother had been forewarned to carry food and drinks because of the long lineups everywhere, so she lugged around a gigantic purse full of sandwiches and a thermos of Kool Aid.

I don't remember much about Expo 67 except that it was stinking hot and very crowded. I remember riding the futuristic monorail through the US Pavilion, that giant geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, and thinking that this was what living in the Jetsons' city must be like.

As much as the Centennial hoopla seems corny now, it was a time of great national pride and unabashed patriotism. We could use some of that old-fashioned jingoism right now, I think.


Anonymous said...

Who would of thought that "Expo 67" was a celebration of the end of Canada and the beginning of the "just society", Trudopia. Canada was a great country though, Trudopia, not so much. I guess it will always be a mystery as to why Canada had to be replaced with something so artificial and fake. Oh well, Happy Dominion Day!!

Anonymous said...

My family visited Montreal for a week and managed to skip some of the lines because the general manager was an old air force friend of my father's (Stan Turner). I remember my brother and I spent all our time trying to get as many passport stamps as possible. I still have my passport.

I remember standing in the snow on the eve of Centennial Year at Queen's Park and cheering. We also had some sort of centennial medal if you could meet all sorts of fitness challenges in school. Don't know what I did with the 'medal' I got (I was no fitness buff but was motivated).

I agree it was downhill ever after with the Trudeau highjacking of our country. Let's hope we don't have a second Trudeau regime.