Sunday, October 29, 2006

Penguin Books

The Penguin Book company was founded in Britain in 1935 by Allen Lane. His idea was to offer quality books at the same price as a pack of cigarettes, and as readily available: the books were to be sold in train stations, general stores and corner shops.

Penguin Books proved extremely popular and different divisions were created: Pelican Books (an educational series) and the ever-popular Penguin Classics, introduced in 1945.

From the beginning, Penguin had a progressive approach to cover graphics and typography. The company's visual identity was under the direction of German typographer Jan Tschichold in the 1940's and Italian art director Germano Facetti in the 1960's.

The result were books as notorious for their graphic design as they were for the literature they contained. Today, Penguin Books have a fan following and collectors network worthy of any Star Trek series...

To see a really cool collection of vintage covers, click here.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Winter, 1967

Winter's chill is starting to be felt here in Montreal, and it inspired me to share some rare pictures of the Expo site in the winter of 1967/68:

The Canadian pavilion's Katimavik covered in a blanket of snow:

The Africa Place pavilions caught in a climate far different from their own:

Snow-covered Iranian pavilion, groovy information kiosk, Minirail tracks:

The empty U.S. Pavilion that would become the Biosphere in 1968:

photos: personal collection

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cheese Fondue Recipe from Expo 67

I'm really amazed at some of the things that I find on the Internet. Like this recipe from the Swiss pavilion at Expo 67:

Cheese Fondue

• 1 lb. Swiss cheese ends
• 2 tbsp. flour
• 1 clove garlic
• 2 cups dry white wine
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice
• 3 tbsp. Brandy (or Kirsch)
• Pepper or Paprika to taste
• 2 loaves crusty French or Italian bread, cut into cubes
• a fondue pot or chafing dish
• fondue forks

Dredge the cheese lightly with the flour. Slice the garlic and rub over the inside of the pot. Discard garlic. Pour in the wine and set over moderate heat on the stove. When air bubbles begin to rise, add the lemon juice. Begin adding the cheese by handfuls, stirring with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melty. Add the brandy and spices, stirring until blended. Serve in a heated pot, adjusting the heat to keep the pot bubbling but not burning. Using long fondue forks, spear pieces of bread, dunk them and place on the plate to cool and eat. Tradition dictates that the woman who loses her bread in the pot has to kiss the man on her left. This can clearly be expanded in scope.

image: (top)
(bottom) author's own

The Holiday Inn

The Holiday Inn was the idea of Kemmons Wilson in 1952. During a family road trip, he was frustrated at the poor quality of roadside motels and the lack of services geared towards families with babies and children.

North America was just entering a motor age. The automobile was king and brand-new highways were popping up everywhere. The time was right for a clean and modern motel chain.

The Holiday Inn was born.

Named after the 1942 Bing Crosby film of the same name, the Holiday Inn offered weary middle-class travelers the amenities they desired: in-room telephones, air-conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting and kid-friendly pools. The chain grew rapidly and in 1965, a computerized reservation system called Holidex would revolutionize the way middle-class families booked their vacations.A big part of the Holiday Inn's pop culture mystique was it's Great Sign. Built to be visible from highways, the red and green marquees were an explosion of light and neon. With a blinking Las Vegas-style arrow pointing towards the front office and topped by a yellow star twinkling into the night, the Great Sign lured vacationers to the dependable family motels they knew and trusted.

On a family car trip to Florida as a kid, my mother recalls that I pointed out every single Holiday Inn sign along the way. Mezmerized by it's twinkling star, my 1-year old self would exclaim: "Look, Mommy, a star!"And speaking of pop culture neon signage, rumor has it that Héritage Montréal is interested in preserving the Five Roses Flour Sign. If true, this would be very good news for the Montreal landmark.

images: (top)
(middle, bottom)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Expo-Express

With a forecast of 30 million visits (which was to become a reality of over 50 million visits), Expo 67 needed efficient on-site transportation.

While the Minirail gave visitors a slower, panoramic view of Expo, the Expo-Express quickly moved large crowds to the different exhibition areas. There were 4 Expo-Express stations: Cité du Havre, Île Sainte-Hélène, Île Notre-Dame, and La Ronde.

Unlike the Metro which ran entirely underground using rubber-tire technology, the Expo-Express operated above ground and on steel wheels. The train's route was 5.7 kilometres long, and waiting time was 5 minutes on average. There were 48 cars in total, 8 sets of 6 cars each. Each train had a capacity of 1000 passengers.

The Expo-Express was the first fully automated transit system in North America. To ease the fears of certain passengers that would not want to embark on a driverless train, personnel was hired and outfitted in nice uniforms, to sit in the front cabin and do nothing at all...!

images: (1)

(3-4) library and archives Canada

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

1972 Chrysler Brochure

Check out this vintage 1972 Chrysler brochure I came across.
They just don't make 'em like they used to...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Montreal Metro

The Montreal Metro system was officially inaugurated exactly 40 years ago today, on October 14th, 1966. It is on this day that Montreal became the 8th city in North America and the 26th in the world to have an underground transportation system.

The original Metro system had only 26 stations on 3 lines. Construction began in 1962 with the Green and Orange lines ready in 1966. The Yellow line, which brought passengers to Expo 67, was inaugurated on March 31, 1967, just before Expo opened.

The Metro was the most popular mode of transportation to Expo 67, and more visitors passed through the Île Sainte-Hélène metro station than the "official" main gate of Expo, Place d'Acceuil. Originally, there were plans for an Île Notre-Dame station, on Expo's other island, but the idea was abandoned due to technical difficulties.

The Île Sainte-Hélène station was originally equipped with washrooms and water fountains for Expo. The crowds were so dense during Expo 67 that, occasionally, the train was unable to stop at Île Sainte-Hélène, letting passengers off at Longueuil instead!

Our Metro has some differences to other subway lines in major cities. First, the Montreal subway runs on rubber tires instead of steel wheels. This necessitated the system to run entirely underground, due to the incompatibility of 1960's rubber tire technology with the harsh Montreal winters. Second, there is no air conditioning in the Metro, which can make summer travelling almost unbearable. And lastly, the metro system is not wheelchair accesible, which is a sore spot for accesibility advocates.

Montreal's Metro is renowned for it's architecture and public art. Mayor Jean Drapeau held design competitions for each station, ensuring that they all had a different look and feel.

The artwork featured in early stations were sponsored by patrons, while subsequent stations included art in their initial budgets. Artists worked in close collaboration with the architects of the stations to create a one of the most unique and beautiful subway systems of the world.

Since 1966, the Metro has carried over 6 billion passengers, which is equivalent to the world's population. Happy Birthday, Metro!

images: (1)
(2) (3)

Flintstones Commercial

My jaw dropped when I saw this!

Like the View-Master, the Flintstones were not originally meant for children. It was a prime time television show, loosely based on a Honeymooners-type concept and aimed at an adult audience. Also, it was not uncommon in the 50's and 60's for TV stars to flaunt the show sponsor's products...

A commercial like this would never fly today!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The View-Master

The View-Master was first introduced at the 1939 World's Fair. Originally intended as a souvenir (and not a children's toy), View-Master was sold at stationary and photo stores as an alternative to postcards.

View-Master simulates depth perception. The simultaneous viewing of two images, one for each eye, causes a 3 dimensional effect.

The View-Master was invented by William Gruber, an organ-maker and photographer of Portland, Oregon. A chance meeting with Harold Graves, president of a postcard company named Sawyer's, made Gruber's invention a reality. View-Master soon became's Sawyer's main product line. At the height of it's popularity, View-Master sold 35mm cameras that would produce View-Master reels and projectors with which to view them.

In 1951, Sawyer's bought over Tru-Vue, the main competitor to View-Master. Tru-Vue owned the licensing rights to Walt Disney cartoon characters, and with these images, View-Master would begin it's slow evolution into a toy for children.

In 1966, Sawyer's was bought by General Aniline & Film, at which point fewer scenic reels were being produced, being replaced instead by cartoon and toy related reels. Over the years, View-Master became more and more popular with children. Today, View-Master is owned by Fisher-Price.

Three sets of reels were produced for Expo 67: General Tour, National Pavilions, and Night Scenes & La Ronde. I love these reels as they truly give a 3 dimensional sensation of Expo!

images: (top)

Monday, October 9, 2006

The United Nations Pavilion

The United Nations pavilion was located on Île Notre-Dame, next to the Indians of Canada pavilion. The pavilion was composed of a circular structure of concrete, steel and glass, at the center of a raised platform. Surrounding the structure were 122 aluminum masts flying the flags of the nations that belonged to the UN.

Visual and printed information on the UN's history, accomplishments and commitments throughout the world were available in the pavilion's main hall. In a central exhibit, the United Nation's charter could be observed. It was also in this area that UN agencies' work was documented in displays that changed on a weekly basis.

The Academy award winning film To Be Alive was projected in a 100-seat theatre located below the central hall. The movie's aim was to show the similarities of children growing up in various parts of the world. Produced by the Johnson Wax Company of the U.S., it was the main attraction of the Johnson Wax pavilion at the 1964 New York World's fair.

The UN pavilion also contained a post office which issued United Nation's stamps. These special stamps could be used for mailing purposes, under a unique agreement with Canada Post. In all, 5 commemorative stamps were put out by the UN during Expo 67. This proved very popular with stamp enthusiasts...

The Restaurant of all Nations offered Expo visitors a diverse and exotic menu on a terrace that faced the St Lawrence river.

One of the most striking (and most photographed) elements of the United Nations pavilion was the Tree of Life sculpture located near the pavilion's entrance. It was carved by famous Italian wood carver Joseph "Peppi" Rifesser out of a 150 year-old chesnut tree. Featuring 5 faces that represented the populations of 5 continents, the Tree of Life was a plea for equality and unity among nations.

After Expo, the Tree of Life was given to the city of Montreal. It was moved to the Lionel-Groulx metro station upon it's inauguration in 1978.

Click here to see a photo of the sculpture as it appears today.

photos: (top)

Friday, October 6, 2006

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot was born in Paris in 1934.

Her profesional life began with modelling work for fashion magazines in her teens. The modelling eventually lead to movie roles and by the mid 1950's, she had starred in numerous French films. These roles typically cast her as an ingenue or a siren, often in various states of undress. Her then-husband and film director Roger Vadim was dissatisfied with these fluffy parts and wanted to see Brigitte in a more serious role. He cast her in the film And God Created Woman (Et Dieu... crea la femme) in 1956, a film that launched her international career and made Brigitte Bardot an overnight sensation in the United States.

The film pushed the boundaries of sex in American cinema and her popularity there was unprecedented for a foreign actress. She became an icon of femininity and sexuality of the Marilyn Monroe calibre. The American press swarmed her at public appearances, noting her every move. Time magazine hailed her as "the princess of pout, the countess of come hither..." but American enthusiasm for Brigitte Bardot never translated itself into a career for her in Hollywood. Although she appeared in over 50 foreign films during the span of her career, the sexually charged image she had was too risqué for the Doris Day-era Hollywood.

Brigitte Bardot's musical career began in 1962, recording over 70 songs between then and 1982. Her musical style in the 1960's varied between classic french chansons and pop-rock yé-yé. Brigitte Bardot's music was as sexually provocative as her films. Her most popular songs were collaborations with famed French songwriting genius Serge Gainsbourg, with whom she was romantically involved with for a time. The music from this period was, in my opinion, her best.

On New Year's Eve, 1967, a color TV special was broadcast in France. Featuring videos of her most popular songs, it was years ahead of it's time, predecessing the MTV music video. The Brigitte Bardot Show was broadcast a year later in the United States.

Michèle Richard is known to have been a big fan of Brigitte Bardot's in the late 60's and early 70's, she even collected photos of hers at one time. I've always suspected this admiration to have played a role in Michèle's decision to go blonde in 1974. At Maryanne's party, Michèle herself recounted the tale of a trip to Europe in the late 60's. She had somehow obtained Brigitte Bardot's personal phone number and was set to call her up once in Paris.

Upon her first attempt, a nervous Michèle Richard became overwhelmed. She lost her courage and never ended up calling Brigitte Bardot!

I have included 2 videos for the Expo Lounge visitor's enjoyment. The first is is the opening theme from the Brigitte Bardot Show in 1968. The second is the video for Brigitte Bardot's notorious Harley Davidson, a song written by Serge Gainsbourg.

I can only imagine impressionable young men watching this in the late 60's...


Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Top 10 Restaurants of Expo 67

Caption: "How to become a conoisseur without leaving Canada: Go to Expo and dine on the dishes of over 30 nations."

Expo's top 10 restaurants, based
on sales volume:
1. Bavarian restaurant at La Ronde
2. USSR pavilion restaurant
3. Canadian pavilion restaurant
4. Czechoslovakian pavilion restaurant
5. Brewer's pavilion restaurant
6. German pavilion restaurant
7. St Hubert BarBQ (at theme pavilion)
8. Scandinavian pavilion restaurant
9. Ontario pavilion restaurant
10. Raphael 67 (at theme pavilion)