Friday, March 30, 2007

Expo 67 Pavilion Caps

For Expo 67, the now-defunct Dow Breweries had issued thematic bottle caps on their products. These caps featured photographs of various pavilions and attractions, and each was identified on the side of the cap. Dow Breweries issued a total of 85 different bottle caps.

As far as Expo 67 collectibles are concerned, these are sought after items, especially considering how many were probably simply thrown out at Expo. That is precisely why, upon seeing a complete uncrimped set of these caps on eBay, I jumped on them.

The photo below is from the actual eBay auction I won.

images: (top) personal collection

Monday, March 26, 2007

Toronto City Hall

One of Toronto's most distinctive landmarks is it's city hall, built in 1965.

By the 1950's, it was clear that the expanding city of Toronto was in need of a new city hall. An international competition was held for its design.

Finnish architect Viljo Revell won with his ultra-mod curved office towers and oyster-shaped council chamber. The design was the architect's most famous, and it would become a symbol of Toronto.

Unfortunately, Revell died a year before the project was completed.

Toronto City Hall during construction.

The New City Hall was actually Toronto's fourth. The first was destroyed by fire, the second was temporary, and the city outgrew the third (now known as Old City Hall). Built in 1899, Old City Hall was declared a National Historic Site in 1989, and is now used as a courthouse.

Old City Hall, situated just east of Toronto's new city hall.

Last-minute scrambling, minor flooding and defective locks threatened Toronto City Hall's official opening on September 13, 1965. Guides in blue and gold uniforms worked overtime, some losing their voices, ushering throngs of curious visitors through the $25-million building.

Within the first 4 days alone, there were more than 70,000 visitors...

Click here for a photographic tour of Toronto City Hall.

images: (1)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chris Dorland

Chris Dorland is a Montreal-native painter, living in New York City.

Like me, much of his artistic expression is represented by Expo 67. And also like me, Chris is too young to have seen Expo first hand.

His work is inspired by what he considers a North American view of technology and optimism. Using architecture to create visual environments, his paintings seem familiar in their utopian references.

Needless to say, I totally dig his work!

images: (1-2-5)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Envelope Security Patterns

I love finding art in unconventional places.

In my ongoing research (i.e. net-surfing), I've stumbled upon a great collection of envelope security patterns from around the world.

These mod patterns vary from simple to intricate, in unexpected colors...


Thursday, March 15, 2007

The New York State Pavilion

A few American states put up pavilions at Expo 67, generally aimed at attracting tourism. Among these was the State of New York.

The New York State pavilion was located on Île Sainte Hélène, fittingly near it's magnificent parent pavilion: the U.S. geodesic dome. The theme was "Welcome Canadian Neighbor".

Outside, under a canopy, a water carrousel gently whirled visitors around an exhibit describing the wonders of New York City.

The main part of the New York State pavilion was comprised of 6 towers (each 40 feet high) which joined to form a floor of enclosed exhibits.

Through these exhibits, New York showed itself as a large and progressive state, possessing great cultural, industrial and natural assets. A recreational exhibit was devoted to vacations and outdoor activities. An industrial exhibit emphasized the success of Canadian firms, while a display on international commerce focussed on the large variety of products that New York State manufactured.

The pavilion contained 3 theatres in which groovy multiple slide images of New York State's achievements and capacity for fun were shown. The lively musical soundtrack even compelled visitors to dance while watching!

images: (1) personal collection

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mr. Dressup

Ernest Arthur Coombs was born in Lewiston, Maine, on November 26, 1927. Initially trained as a commercial artist, Coombs later graduated from the Pittsburgh Miniature Theatre. Among his classmates was Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood fame.

In 1963, Ernie Coombs came to Canada to work as a puppeteer on Fred Rogers' children's series Misterogers, broadcast on CBC television. Within 1 year, Rogers returned to the U.S. and Ernie Coombs got his own show. (History tells us that Fred Rogers went on to great success as the host of the beloved PBS children's program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.)

Ernie Coombs starred in Butternut Square from 1964-1967, and upon it's cancellation, he presented an improved version called Mr. Dressup. On February 13, 1967, Mr. Dressup premiered on CBC and enchanted children with it's magical world of make-believe.

Through Mr. Dressup, Ernie Coombs developed an intimate connection with his audience by talking directly to the camera. Children watching were encouraged to use their imagination as Mr. Dressup pulled colorful costumes from his Tickle Trunk and showed them how to make crafts from ordinary household items. (I remember making stuff inspired by Mr. Dressup.)

Throughout my early childhood, I had a standing 10:30 am appointment with Mr. Dressup and his puppets Casey, Finnegan, Alligator Al, etc. Just the sound of the little piano intro takes me right back...

images: (1) (2-3)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Expo 67's Man-Made Island

The construction plans for the Expo 67 site included enlarging 2 existing islands, Île Sainte Hélène and Île Ronde, while a third island, Île Notre Dame, was created entirely from scratch.

It has been said that part of Expo 67's success lay upon its unique island setting, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Indeed, water played an important part in the ambiance of the Universal Exhibition of 1967.

To grasp the sheer size and scope of the Île Notre Dame project, I've dug up some aerial shots from the library and archives Canada collection:

A general view of Île Notre Dame, looking east.

The Concordia Bridge linked Cité du Havre (Mackay Pier) with Expo's islands.

Waterfront residents of St. Lambert (top of photo) had a great view of Expo.

Ontario and Canada's pavilions rose gracefully out of the water.

A shortage of rubble caused engineers to integrate lagoons into the design.

A great shot of the international pavilions of Île Notre Dame.

Pedestrian bridges passed over the lagoons, while the Minirail rode over water.

A stunning view at dusk of Île Notre Dame, looking south-west.

images: library and archives Canada

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Clairtone Sound Corporation

The Clairtone Sound Corporation was founded in 1958 by Canadian electronics engineer and businessman Peter Munk with furniture designer David Gilmour. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the company established an international reputation for stereo and cabinetry design in the 1960's.

Clairtone's logo (left) was as sleek as their product design.

The most famous Clairtone design was the Project G series which featured groovy black globe speakers, with a wood cabinet. This series also introduced the now-standard modular approach to consumer audio.

The 7002 G2 from the Project G series.

Clairtone's reputation was built on its use of futuristic designs, combined with quality materials as well as good marketing. A Project G system could be seen in the 1967 film The Graduate (an early example of product placement), and Frank Sinatra was a Clairtone pitchman.

An ad for the G-TV at Expo 67, courtesy of DC Hillier.

Clairtone also manufactured television sets. Their G-TV model was featured in the Chatelaine House at Expo 67.

Click to see a Clairtone catalog and instruction manual from the late 60's.

images: (1 & 3)
(2 & 5)
(4) FOS Productions

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Building of Expo 67

Expo 67 was an enormous undertaking for the City of Montreal.

Like the Olympics, World Exhibitions must be officially bid for by hopeful cities. Montreal obtained the 1967 exhibition at the last minute, when the initial winning city, Moscow, bowed out for fear of staggering costs.

The Canada pavilion, with it's Katimavik, under construction.

Montreal was given the green light in November of 1962, less than 5 years to Expo's April of 1967 opening. Less than five years to install 847 buildings and pavilions, 27 bridges, 51 miles of road and walkways, 23 miles of sewers and drains, 100 miles of water, gas and power lines, 55,000 miles of phone wires and cables, 24,484 parking spaces, 14,950 trees, 4330 trash cans and 6150 light fixtures.

The odds were definitely against Expo 67 opening on time.

On top of that, the chosen site for Expo 67 didn't exist yet. The plan was to enlarge existing Île Sainte Hélène to double its size and create Île Notre Dame from rubble left over from the metro excavations. During it's peak, Expo 67 was the world's largest construction site: dump trucks worked 24 hours a day, filling 28 million tons of rock into the St. Lawrence river.

28 million metric tons of rubble were needed for Expo 67.

Amazingly, by the spring of 1967, only 2 pavilions were behind schedule. A labor force of some 6000 were hard at work on the magic islands just 6 months before Expo 67's opening.

The U.S. pavilion under construction.

On April 27, 1967, Expo 67 opened on time. It "rose out of the water like Botticelli's Venus," as Yves Jasmin so aptly put it, to welcome the world.

images: (1-3) library and archives Canada