Saturday, February 25, 2012

Montreal's "Men in Yellow"

Montreal's "Men in Yellow"
To the millions of visitors anticipated at Expo 67, the city of Montreal wanted to show itself as modern, dazzling and cosmopolitan. And a modern and dazzling city could not be dirty. Enter the "Men in Yellow".

Montreal's "Men in Yellow" 
Dressed in yellow suits, Montreal's litter-pickers assured that city streets were clear of paper, litter and other light refuse from the months of March to December. Armed with a pincer-stick, broom and shovel, the eagle-eyed men scoured the city's streets mounted on special carrier-tricycles.

The tricycles were acquired in 1962, and by 1964, Montreal's Roads Department counted 80 of them divided amongst 5 sectors: north, south, east, west and center. Scooter-mounted supervisors linked by radio to the complaints department ensured that any urgency was quickly dealt with...

Montreal's "Men in Yellow" 
images (1)
(2-3) personal collection (Montreal '64 magazine)

Friday, February 17, 2012

PLB's "Katimavik" T-Shirt

PLB's "Katimavik" T-Shirt
 PLB has done it, again!

For spring 2012, Pier-Luk Bouthillier proposes a design that pays homage to one of my personal favorite symbols of Expo 67: the "Katimavik".

The Katimavik was the dominant element of the vast Canadian pavilion at Expo 67. At 109 feet high, visitors could climb to the top of the structure for breathtaking views of the Expo site.

The word "katimavik" means "meeting place" in Inuktitut, symbolizing Canada's role as host at Expo 67.

Interesting to note, "katimavik" can also mean "to take care of". This adds a deeper meaning to the design: "taking care of" our planet is one of PLB's core values...

Available in men's or ladies', in asphalt or black.

PLB's "Katimavik" T-Shirt 
photos: Patrick Cardinal
design: PLB

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Morocco Pavilion

The Morocco Pavilion
Located on Île-Notre-Dame between the pavilions of Tunisia and Ethiopia, Morocco's participation at Expo 67 was a traditionally-styled pavilion 72 feet in diameter and 14 feet high. Its shape was inspired by a typically Moroccan motif - the 8 point star - with wood and plaster sculptures throughout, and a floor covered in Moroccan mosaics.

Adjoining the main pavilion was a 65-foot minaret, embellished with ornamental arches.

Pillbox hatted hostess (left) ornamental arch (right).

Hostesses dressed in sunny yellow uniforms were on hand to guide visitors through a variety of exhibits that told Morocco's story in 2 parts: its contributions to civilisation prior to its 1956 independance, and its achievements after.

The Morocco Pavilion
A large cupola in the center of the pavilion featured 2 luminous dioramas, complete with life-sized mannequins in traditional costume. One display showed the southern village of Tinerhir while the other featured the imperial city of Meknès, known as "The Versailles of Morocco". In another nearby exhibit, mannequins costumed as royal guards or as teachers represented the city of Fez, whose university was at least 400 years older than the Sorbonne.

In galleries around the central area, photographs, statues and more costumes reflected a past enriched by Morocco's proximity to other Mediterranean civilizations. Morocco's agricultural contributions to the world were highlighted: the cultivation of rice, buckwheat, sugarcane, ginger, cotton and silk, and fruits such as bananas, cherries, oranges, lemons and grapefruit.

Treasured relics were exhibited in adjacent display cases: a Neolithic vase, a Phoenician sphinx, a Punic lamp, a 14th-century frieze, a Berber bust from the Roman era. Other artifacts included ancient coins and jewels, daggers, ceramics, caskets, embroidery from North Morocco, forged iron from the city of Meknès, etc.

A 12th century Koran was on display in a section devoted to ancient manuscripts, where early Islamic advances in medicine, geometry and astronomy were discussed. A 14th century astrolabe, at once a scientific tool and a work of art, was a typical example of the refinement of the era.

The Morocco Pavilion 
The section on modern Morocco showed recent progresses in the country: industrialization, increased school attendance, improved public hygiene and improvements in agriculture. Modern buildings harmonized with traditional architecture in an exhibit on Casablanca. Montages, models and photographs presented the new city of Agadir which had been devastated by an appalling earthquake some years before.

In yet another section, photographs showed Morocco's natural beauty: spectacular mountains and valleys, deserts, coasts and beaches...

The Morocco Pavilion
The El Mansour restaurant served dishes which captured the lush and refined essence of Morocco's culture. Visitors could sample typical dishes such as mechoui or chicken served with prunes, in a relaxed and voluptuous atmosphere of soft divans and the scent of sandalwood and rose-water...

The Morocco Pavilion 
images: (1) personal collection
(2) library and archives Canada
(3) courtesy DC Hillier
(5) personal collection, from the Man and His World 1968 guide
(6) Dixon Slide Collection, with special thanks to DC Hillier for retouching
(7) personal collection, from the Memorial Album

Friday, February 3, 2012

GM's "New Look" Bus

GM's "New Look" Bus
In 1959, General Motors introduced its iconic "New Look" transit bus.

With its slanted windows, fluted aluminum siding and distinctive 6-piece rounded windshield, the design quickly became known as the "Fishbowl".

The original production began in late 1959 in Pontiac, Michigan, and the very first New Looks were delivered to the Washington, D.C. transit system that same year. In 1961, a second production line was started in London, Ontario, with their first buses going to the Hull City Transport in Hull, Quebec. US production ended in 1977 but continued in Canada until 1986. More than 44,000 units were built throughout this time.

The buses were produced in several lengths: 29, 35 and 40 feet. Transmission choices were four-speed manual or automatic. Originally, all New Looks were powered by 6-cylinder diesel engines. General Motors resisted V8 power but eventually gave in to pressure from customers.

New Looks were available in both "Transit" and "Suburban" versions. Transits were traditional city buses with two doors; Suburbans had high-backed, forward-facing seats, underfloor luggage bays, and only one door. GM had refused to install lavatories on its buses, so some transit companies added their own...!

GM's "New Look" Bus
The New Look's reliability, ease of maintenance and relatively economical operation made it the mainstay of North American transit systems from the 1960's through to the 80's.

Bus drivers loved them because of the ease of steering and the visibility through the large windows. Bus enthusiasts call it their favorite.

I've always loved the New Look's design: there's something about the windswept windows, the fishbowl windshield, the angles that keep it from looking too "boxy"... It's what I picture in my mind when I think of a "bus".

GM's "New Look" Bus 
images:, scanned from a 1963 brochure.