July 21st, 2018

Collector’s Corner: Canadians celebrated in 1967

By Medicine Hat News on January 2, 2018.

Stamps celebrating Expo '67, which took place in Montreal during Canada's centennial year.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday this year is special.

We can reflect on this milestone by remembering how we celebrated the World Exhibition in Montreal 50 years ago.

This event was also timely for us to mark the 100th anniversary of Confederation.

The approval and star-up for the exhibition was given on Nov. 13, 1962. This massive amount of work was the determination of Mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau.

Work for a new site was started in 1963, which brought together two islands in the St. Lawrence River.

To accommodate the 62 participating nations, it was required to enlarge these islands with 25 million tons of fill, a large part of that coming from excavated material out of Montreal’s new metro-subway project.

This was the first time an international exhibition was being assembled with each country not only designing their own pavilion but constructing it as well. All the additional facilities had to be built, such as roads, bridges, rail connections, hotels, restaurants, safety and security — all had to be taken care of and as Expo ’67 began to grow so did the estimates — to $500 million. This did not include the 16 miles of new metro-subway or the centennial train, which travelled the country end to end. This was a massive amount of planning, construction and a show place like no other.

The official opening of Montreal Expo was on April 27, 1967, by Roland Michener, Canada’s governor general, followed by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Fifty-three heads of state, 7,000 media, and invited guests were on hand for this day. Expo ‘67 was open for the general public on April 28, and set a single day attendance record. On the third day, the 569,500 visitors were more than any other world fair.

The exhibition was visited by many notable people — Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Princess Grace of Monaco, Jackie Kennedy, Charles De Gaulle, Bing Crosby, Maurice Chevalier, and Marlene Dietrich, to name a few.

The Expo was the best of times, but also the worst of time. It solidified that we were still one nation, until the President of France, Charles de Gaulle, announced Quebec should be free. The aftermath was considerable, and to think this man had been accommodated in the safety of London while the Germans invaded Paris during the Second World War.

To commemorate Expo ’67 Canada Post issued several stamps.

The Centennial Symbol was seen everywhere across the country, along with the new Canadian flag.

The design of the symbol was built from 11 triangles, one for each province and one for the territories.

This Expo had become entrenched with Canadians and to what may become the last good year.

For those of us who remember Expo ’67, to repeat an exhibition on such a scale would be unthinkable in today’s economic climate.

This celebration was completed when the population of Canada was only 20 million, and half of its people were under the age of 25.

What, in 50 years time, will our next centennial be like in 2067? And where will it be built?

On behalf of the Medicine Hat Coin and stamp club we would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.

Collector’s Corner is contributed by the Medicine Hat Coin & Stamp Club. For questions or comments about coin or stamp collection email medhatcsc@live.com.

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