Saturday, September 9, 2006

The Expo Hostess

Expo 67's hostesses were responsible for the reception of the more than 50 million visitors that came through Expo's turnstiles. They played a pivotal role in the success of Expo 67.

As early as 1965, a nation-wide selection process began in Canada to fill the positions of the 200+ hostesses required for the Canadian and provincial pavilions, as well as "general" Expo hostesses.

Each participating country was responsible for hiring their pavilion's hostesses. These women became ambassadors of their own cultures at Expo 67.

Though not politically correct by today's standards, physical appearance played a very important part in the selection of Expo hostesses. One pavilion went so far as to hire only former Miss Canada winners and contestants! (I wonder if there was a swimsuit competition?) Official hostess training also included makeup lessons!

Beauty aside, these girls needed to be intelligent, friendly, and quick to answer any question that a typical Expo visitor could have. (I imagine that these girls also had to be able to withstand un-funny jokes and comments from leering old men...)

A little known fact is that a small amount of young men were also hired as hosts, mostly for late-night duties and information booths. A total of over 1500 young men and women hosted at Expo 67, some even putting their studies on hold to work in Montreal during Expo's 6-month run.

Another interesting note is that while pavilion hostess uniforms were styled in the latest fashion by their countries' leading designers (hats and gloves a were a must), the waitresses that worked in the pavilion restaurants were usually in traditional costume...

photos: library and archives Canada

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