Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sky Ride

The Sky Ride was a 120-foot high cable car system that travelled over Dolphin Lake in the La Ronde sector of Expo 67.

Brightly colored gondolas holding 4 persons each carried passengers from the Expo Express station (at La Ronde's entrance) to another station in Le Village, an old-style Québecois village located at the opposite end of the park.

The cable cars offered visitors a panoramic view of the site, as well as the Montreal skyline, but bird's eye views were just one of the ride's functions: the Sky Ride was an effective means of dispersing the thick crowds that arrived hourly at La Ronde...

The Sky Ride's station near La Ronde's entrance.

Two panoramic rides: the Sky Ride (foreground) and La Spirale (background).

Architectual plans of the Sky Ride, 1965.

images: (1 to 4):

(5) personal collection

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The CBC Gem Logo

The "C" stands for Canada, while the radiating parts symbolize broadcasting.

Of all the CBC logos throughout the years, my favorite is the Gem logo.

Designed for the CBC by legendary graphic artist Burton Kramer in 1974, the iconic Gem is the most widely recognized logo of the corporation, and arguably the most recognized symbol in Canada...

It instantly brings me back to childhood mornings watching Mr. Dressup...

I want a car like this! CBC identity vehicle fleet, 1975.

A gorgeous billboard from the CBC visual identity program, 1975.

A storyboard for the animated station identification.

Proof of the Gem's lasting appeal: current merchandise from

images: (1) author's own


Friday, January 18, 2008

The Biosphere, 1968

Flags of the city of Montreal flew in the foreground of the Biosphere.

In 1968, the U.S. pavilion became the Biosphere.

The interior of the 20-storey geodesic dome built for Expo 67 was transformed into an giant parkland and aviary for Man and His World 68.

The basic structure that housed the U.S. display remained: the space frame shell covered with a "skin" of curved acrylic panels, the platforms at various levels reached by stairs and escalators, as well as the Minirail that ran right through the middle. A plaque inside the pavilion's entrance read:

"This building, the United States pavilion at
Expo 67, is a gift of the American people to
the City of Montreal. It was presented by
Leonard H. Marks, Director of the U.S.
Information Agency, to Mr. Jean Drapeau,
Mayor of Montreal, on the 20th of July,
1967, as a symbol of warm friendship
between Canada and the United States."

The pavilion's platforms had been made into a series of gardens, promenades and lookouts. The Sun Garden was done in a Moorish style, while the Classic Garden had a french influence complete with trimmed shrubbery and distinguished fountains.

Birds of all sorts were featured in the Biosphere, including some tropical specimens. Birds of prey such as hawks, owls and eagles could be seen in the pavilion's upper level. A large lagoon near the main entrance featured game birds and water fowl. Near it, a majestic 50-foot elm was just one of the many trees placed throughout the Biosphere to serve as perches for its feathered inhabitants (in total some 600 birds of 150 species).

The pavilion's theatre showed 2 films from the National Film Board: one discussed the migration of wild geese while the other provided an intimate glimpse of wildlife in Quebec.

Multicolored fabric kites were suspended from the curved interior of the structure, in place of the space capsule parachutes that had been on display during Expo 67.

One of the Biosphere's formal gardens.

The longest escalator in the world took visitors to the summit of the Biosphere.

Flamingos were just one of many exotic breeds of birds on display.

Fountains added to the serene atmosphere of the Biosphere.

A Man and His World guide who made friends with a budgie.

images: personal collection

Sunday, January 13, 2008

St-Catherine Street, 1961

From Spacing Montreal, this 1961 photo of St-Catherine Street at the corner of Mansfield, where Place Montreal Trust stands today.

Interesting to note is that St-Catherine was a 2 way street in those days...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Great Expectations

Showing at Cinéma du Parc this week is Great Expectations, a short feature on the history of visionary architecture. Some of the most innovative structures of the 20th century are highlighted, including 2 Expo 67 attractions: Buckminster Fuller's U.S. pavilion, and Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67; as well as Jacque Fresco's retro-futuristic Venus Project.

This film is being presented tonight and tomorrow night, along with Kochuu: Japanese Architecture/Influence & Origin...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Man the Provider Complex

Nine pavilions located on the eastern point of Île Notre-Dame sought to explore the theme of agriculture at Expo 67. The pie-shaped pavilion complex spanned 7 acres in an atmosphere of rural tranquility. Despite the quiet appearance, Man the Provider raised some frightening issues concerning the earth's population explosion and undernourishment in underdevelopped countries...

The first pavilion contained a large clock that counted off the seconds, reminding visitors that each tick equalled 2 new mouths to be fed. Scenes of hunger in the world were projected on 8 screens.

The second pavilion retraced how mankind had learned over the centuries to adapt the powerful forces of nature to his will, as well as using animals for food and service.

The third and fourth pavilions reminded visitors that only 3% of the world's surface could be cultivated, the rest being desert, mountain, ice or water. Efforts to improve the earth's productivity were discussed in displays.

The fifth pavilion drew the visitor's attention to the paradox of modern agriculture existing side by side with hunger and undernourishment.

The sixth pavilion displayed modern agricultural machinery: mechanical giants that were invaluable to the modern farmer.

The last 3 pavilions were devoted to the latest methods of poultry farming, livestock breeding and milk production.

Finally, a fairytail farm and animal show was presented to the delight of children of all ages.

The show's first trick was a hen that did math: the emcee (one of the pavilion's guides) would ask an audience member to give her a math problem to solve. Amazingly, she would get it right as long as the answer was less than 10. The grand finale was the hen that danced while a rabbit accompanied her on piano!

In addition, between-shows featured a duck, a rabbit, a hen, and a dove.

images: (1-2) library and archives Canada
(4-5-6) personal collection