Expo '67
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Dec 1964, p. 125-137

Shaw, Robert F., Speaker
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Some details of Expo '67, and acknowledgements of co-operation with officials of the Canadian National Exhibition. What Expo '67 needs: the moral force of the nation behind it. The wish for Expo '67 to be known as a Canadian effort, not an English-Canadian or French-Canadian one. Clarification of who is bearing the heaviest share of the cost: Montreal, not the Canadian taxpayer. Who's doing what. The site itself. A report of what has already been accomplished. Progress is discussed under the following headings: Scale Model; Mackay Pier Today; Mass Transit System; Habitat; Ile Verte Today; Ile Notre Dame Today; La Ronde Today; La Ronde Model; Theme Buildings; Man and Oceans Fish Tank; The Cell; Submarine; Canadian Government Pavilion; Atlantic Provinces; Prairie Provinces. Other topics include sales; the participation of the federal government and the ten provinces; exhibitors; and the Business Development Bureau that has been formed to use Expo as a means of furthering business between Canadian and foreign businessmen. Expo '67 to mark Canada's coming of age in the modern world: fitting on Canada's 100th Birthday as a Nation.
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3 Dec 1964
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Full Text
Expo '67
CHAIRMAN, The President, Lt. Col. Robert H. Hilborn


The Government of Canada established a corporation with the title "The Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition" to operate what is officially known as "The Canadian Universal and International Exhibition, Montreal 1967." It is a wonder that any proposition with such a weighty designation ever got off the ground but, after some initial backing and filling, it did and they called it "Expo'67"- and I don't blame them.

Here to speak to us in the antepenultimate year prior to its opening is its Deputy Commissioner General-one who has a unique position as a sort of Canadian Ambassador-atlarge to many of the nations of the world.

Robert Shaw was born in Montreal, the home of Expo '67 and was graduated by McGill University in Civil Engineering during the depth of the depression. His first job on graduation was as a labourer for the Foundation Company of Canada. Twenty-nine years later he was appointed President of that Company-an Horatio Alger story. "Expo '67" is the title of the new melodrama our hero is enacting today under Jacques Cartier Bridge in his home town.

The central unifying theme of Expo '67 is "Man and His World." The main theme will be developed in the areas set aside under the headings:

Man the Explorer Man the Creator Man the Producer Man and the Community

We are honoured to have with us today a man who exemplifies what he is setting out to accomplish; one who is the very embodiment of these themes.

As an Arctic authority and as one whose work has taken him from one end of Canada to the other and around the world-Man the Explorer.

As a one time Assistant to the President and in charge of design for Defense Industries Limited and later as Vice President of special projects for the Foundation CompanyMan the Creator.

As Vice President, Director and Chief Engineer of Defence Construction Limited and latterly as President and Director of the Foundation Company-Man the Producer.

As one who resigned his high office as President of Canada's largest construction company to assume his present responsibility, and for his active interest in many organiza tions and professional societies across Canada-Man and the Community.

Dedication to the proposition that Canada will stage the best world exhibition ever, takes courage and of course, none but the brave deserves the Fair.

It is my privilege to present the deserving Deputy Commissioner General of Expo '67- Mr. Robert F. Shaw.


It is a pleasure for me to be in Toronto, the home of the world's biggest and finest annual exhibition. I mention the C.N.E. deliberately since I am one of the men most concerned with creating in Canada-and for all Canadians-the world's finest once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. We still occasionally hear in Toronto the fear expressed that Expo '67 will become an annual exhibition, threatening the Canadian National Exhibition, after 1967. Let me emphasize again, that under the rules of the Bureau of International Exhibitions, a world exhibition can remain open for only six months and that, in any event, by its very nature, a world exposition would be unsuitable for adaptation to an annual, trade oriented exhibition.

The international and universal exhibition to be held in Canada will open on April 28, 1967 and close on October 27, 1967. I am happy to have this opportunity to speak in Toronto and to acknowledge publicly the most generous co-operation of Mr. Hiram McCallum and the other officials of the Canadian National Exhibition. The 1967 World Exhibition has already benefited from the experience and research of the C.N.E. We look forward to continued assistance-as we look forward to assistance from all Canadians.

For our part, we will do our best to return this generous assistance by doing everything in our power to co-operate with the Canadian National Exhibition in 1967 through combined bookings, advertising and any other means at our disposal. At the very least we would expect to make a contribution towards a record-breaking attendance at the C.N.E. Expo will draw millions more tourists to Canada than ever before. Many of these will follow the well-worn tourist route between Quebec City and Niagara Falls. Therefore, we will lead them past the gate of the Canadian National Exhibition and we are satisfied that that splendid organization will draw them in. At the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition, we consider our task of building an international exhibition of the first category as a trust. We are the agents of Canada. The kind of assistance we want most is not physical-let me assure you that the physical Expo is on schedule and will open on time.

What Expo '67 really needs is the moral force of the nation behind it. It is, if you will, an appeal for unity in diversity. We, as a nation, have been plagued with selfdoubts for too long. The 1967 World Exhibition in Canada is an opportunity to bestir our imaginations and exercise our pride in our country. It is a Canadian effort and we would like to convey the idea that its accomplishment has a real meaning to all people, whether they live in Heart's Content, Newfoundland or in Kitimat, British Columbia.

We, at Expo, where French and English are spoken interchangeably, don't want it to be known as a FrenchCanadian effort, or an English-Canadian effort. We want it to be a Canadian effort. In the Corporation's many meetings, it is common for me to ask a question in English and receive an answer in French: to be addressed in French, and reply in English. There is no embarrassment and I recommend it to all Canadians as a workable method for greater understanding and unity in this country of ours.

It has been suggested that the city of Montreal will receive the greatest benefit from the exhibition but that the bills are being paid for by Canadian taxpayers. This impression should be corrected.

Montreal is, in fact, bearing the heaviest share of the cost as, in addition to underwriting a share of the costs of the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition, the city has provided the site at its own expense, the basic subway access to the site at its own expense and expressway access within the city. The province of Quebec for its part is providing expressway access from the main centres of the province and from the borders of adjacent provinces and states and is, furthermore, building a ring of expressways around the site.

All three governments-federal, provincial and city-are building pavilions.

Therefore, the taxpayer who lives outside of the province of Quebec makes only one contribution to the exhibition. Quebeckers who live outside Montreal make two contributions, and those of us who live in the City of Montreal pay our share of the federal, provincial and city taxes devoted to the exhibition. In fact, therefore, the taxes paid are in proportion to the long-term benefits received. Let's talk a little about the site itself which was selected and provided by the City of Montreal at its own expense. When the B.I.E. delegation held its meeting in Montreal last June-the first time the Bureau has ever met outside Europe -they called our islands "the most magnificent exhibition site" they had ever seen. It is noteworthy that the City of Montreal has already spent about $30 million to prepare the site before it was turned over to us-on schedule. It is also true, I believe, that much of that expenditure could have been saved. Montreal could have offered us a flat open field somewhere in the outskirts. As we all know, there are great expanses of flat open fields in Canada.

But the City of Montreal didn't look for open fields. It showed more imagination. It offered us a site in the middle of the St. Lawrence. In fact, the City of Montreal, and most notably its energetic mayor, Jean Drapeau, was so imaginative that it provided us with a site, part of which literally did not exist at the time of its choice. But how infinitely more spectacular is the site now in mid-St. Lawrence than in some field in the suburbs. The readying of the site was the first great victory along the route to Expo '67. A total of 22 million tons of fill went into the construction of the new islands. And as any engineer-and perhaps any stockbroker -knows, that is a lot of rock. The fill was transported within the space of seven months and completed on time.

To the critics who say that you can't build on filled ground, I would point out that most of the harbour fronts in the world are built on fill. In fact, St. Peter's in Rome is built on fill. Now I'm a Protestant and have grave doubtsbut I must confess that there is some evidence that it is permanent.

We have done a good deal of talking about what we are going to do, about our plans and dreams for 1967. The time has come, however, for us to report on what we have already done, to give a step-by-step progress report on our achievements of the past year. Let us look first at the site in relation to the City of Montreal.

A. Scale Model

You will see that Expo is located right in the harbour of Montreal on a complex of islands and a spur of land jutting out from the mainland of the city, Mackay Pier. The central island, of course, is St. Helen's, and here, extensive additions have been made both at the upstream or Ile Verte area, and the down-stream La Ronde end beyond Jacques Cartier bridge.

An entirely new island was created, Ile Notre Dame, swelling out from the wall of the seaway.

B. Mackay Pier Today

An extensive filling programme was undertaken by the Corporation. 2,413,000 tons of fill have been placed in the operation on Mackay Pier, which now has taken its final shape although some grading work remains.

Mackay Pier will be linked with the up-stream end of St. Helen's Island by a new bridge. Work on this bridge is already well advanced. It is scheduled for completion by the Autumn of 1965. The piers are completed and the steel superstructure and roadway are being erected.

Mass Transit System

The contract for the mass transit system has been let. The preparation of the roadbeds is in hand and equipment is ordered and under manufacture. This system will move passengers at the rate of 30,000 per hour each way right from the entrance on Mackay Pier, 3112 miles through the entire site, linking Mackay Pier, Ile Verte, Ile Notre Dame and La Ronde.

We plan to include an amount for fares in the price of admission-so that, having entered the site, a visitor can ride free on this primary system as often as he or she wishes. There will be a charge for each shorter ride on the secondary systems within each of the four areas of the site.

The design of the stadium has been submitted by the consultant, approved and ready for tender call. It will be dismountable so that it can be sold and placed elsewhere after the exhibition is over.

Plans for the Place d'Accueil or Reception Area, the Administration and the Press Buildings have been approved and tenders have been called.

You have probably heard of our biggest dream which looks something like a series of hollow pyramids. It is known as Habitat '67.


This is a revolutionary new concept in urban dwelling and we feel will be a lasting and meaningful symbol of our theme, "Man and His World." The objective is to demonstrate how harbour cities can be remarried with their waterfronts through the use of decayed and unused property. Each dwelling unit will have a view of the river and of the spectacular skyline of the city. Because the buildings are sloped, each dwelling will have a garden which is the roof of the dwelling below, and the services such as garages and shops will occupy the space under the slopes to achieve the maximum land use.

In other words, this concept introduces a suburban type of living into the heart of the city and will lead to the elimination of long drives over costly expressways which are creating such problems in these modern days of over-population and urban sprawl.

Mind you, we don't believe that Habitat '67 will necessarily be built again in the same form as we now propose but we do believe it will have an influence on urban architecture for both low-cost and high-cost housing.

The parallel example is the Eiffel Tower which was built for the Great Exhibition of 1889. This is the structure which taught the world to build skyscrapers on steel frames and yet, there isn't a skyscraper in the world which looks like the Eiffel Tower. Nevertheless it is a meaningful symbol, the last meaningful symbol erected in a world exhibition.

Designs and estimates for Habitat '67 have been refined to the point where the picture is clear, and have been submitted to governments for the approval of the financial basis for proceeding.

C. Ile Verte Today

The City of Montreal, at its own expense and on schedule, handed us a level site for the up-stream extension of St. Helen's Island known as Ile Verte. The final grading and shaping of the area have been completed by the Exhibition Corporation. The contract has been awarded for the Ile Verte-Ile Notre Dame bridge and the piers have been completed. The St. Lawrence was temporarily dammed off between Ile Verte and Ile Notre Dame to facilitate work on the piers for this bridge and also for the construction of the subway which is now being built by the City of Montreal, at its own expense, from the city to the south shore with a station on the site for exhibition visitors. A consultant is presently working on the drawings for the great amphitheatre known as Place des Peuples on the up-stream tip of Ile Verte. This amphitheatre will be used for official occasions and for the celebration of special events such as national days.

D. Ile Notre Dame Today

On Ile Notre Dame, also handed to us by the city on schedule, the work of fine grading and shaping of canals, islands and lakes is completed. Contracts have been let for the sanitary and storm sewer systems and for the road bases, on both Ile Verte and Ile Notre Dame.

The consultant has completed preliminary plans of the sewage treatment plant to service the island sites. Tenders have been called and contracts let for the electric power and communication duct system, for sod, perennials, shrubs and trees on the Ile Verte and Ile Notre Dame areas. Landscape consultants are working on plans for the Mackay Pier.

E. La Ronde Today

La Ronde, the down-stream extension to St. Helen's Island, will be the amusement area. There are two bodies of water here. One of these will be a marina to accommodate several hundred small craft. The second lake will be used for water shows. A tender package is currently being prepared to request proposals for the marina project. Last week our consultant delivered estimates, model and sketches for the amusement area itself, which surrounds these lakes.

La Ronde Model

It is already clear that we will have something different from anything that has yet been developed in world exhibitions as a fun area. We are trying to have planned fun not a noisy midway.

Now let us look at the work of the Exhibits Department charged with developing ideas for exhibits, public relations and liaison with exhibitors, including sales.

Theme Buildings

As you know, we are making a serious attempt to persuade each exhibitor to tell some part of our theme story in his exhibit. In addition, we are designing ourselves certain theme buildings which subdivide our theme "Man and His World" into such subdivisions as "Man the Explorer" (Science and Medicine), "Man the Creator" (Fine Arts), "Man the Producer" and "Man and the Community." For these subdivisions and sub-subdivisions, storylines have been accepted, concept studies are nearing completion and we are entering into the phase of designing the exhibits and buildings. They will show man in various environments trying to study, understand, explain and alter those environments for the benefit of mankind.

Man and Oceans Fish Tank

For example, under the sub-heading of "Man the. Explorer" there is a story called "Man and the Oceans" in which the past, present and future of transport beneath and above the surface is discussed and the history; and future of taking food from the sea is demonstrated. As part of the exhibit we plan a large tank in which, by modern means-air bubbles, light, sound and magnetic impulse-fish will be herded-as they will be by the fishermen of the future.

The Cell

An exhibit on health and medicine will show a model of a cell which demonstrates how diseases like cancer develop and how they are fought.


The pavilion entitled "Man and the Polar Regions" will show the wonders of the extremities of the Earth, past, present and future, on land and below the ice.

These are just a few of the exhibits which are under design at the present time.

A number of exhibitors are hard at work on their designs. Plans for the Canadian Pavilion have already been announced by the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Hon. Mitchell Sharp.

Canadian Government Pavilion

It is an impressive project, fully in accord with Canada's role as the host nation. It will cost some 21 million dollars and will cover eight acres of space. It will include a permanent building destined to house the National Theatre School after Expo. Both Quebec and Ontario will have their own pavilions. I would like to say here that we have already received tremendous support from the Ontario and Toronto governments. I took it as a healthy sign when Premier Robarts warned us some months ago that our sales in Canada should be more vigorous.

The prize-winning design for the Quebec pavilion was announced October 6, 1964. This will also be a permanent structure to become possibly a Conservatory of Music. The Atlantic Provinces and the Western Provinces, too, are deep in the planning of their pavilions. I think you may be interested in some of the ideas our theme development group suggested to the provinces to stir the imagination of their designers. These are really just thought-teasers and may not be accepted by the exhibitors. But they do impress the designers with the importance of attractions which draw crowds.

Atlantic Provinces

For the Atlantic Provinces our dreamers suggested the tie-up between the traditional basic industry of the Atlantic Provinces, fishing, and their more modern developments. We suggested they build an old schooner and, later, give it to the Naval Sea cadets for training. Another idea was to build a 12 Meter Racing Yacht and challenge for America's Cup.

Prairie Provinces

We thought that the Prairie Provinces might consider as their central attraction an old-fashioned harvesting bee, and then go on from there to tell the impressive story of modern large-scale wheat farming which has made Canada a world leader in the grain trade and the story of a wealth of natural resources such as potassium, oil, nickel and power. As of this date, sales are going well-twenty-seven foreign governments have officially announced their participation. An additional sixteen nations have already chosen lots for pavilions pending official government ratification. We are expecting that more than sixty foreign nations will be represented in Montreal in 1967.

We are also assured of the participation of eleven Canadian governments (the federal government and the ten provinces). Thirteen private exhibitors have an nounced participation to date. In addition some fourteen others have definitely taken space and are expected to announce their participation at a time that suits them best from a publicity angle. Nineteen other private exhibitors are awaiting details of the theme buildings to determine the nature of their participation. Twenty-two private exhibitors expect to participate in collective pavilions. Twenty-five other private exhibitors are seriously studying ways of participating but have not revealed firm plans. Scores of companies are interested but are looking for attractive ideas to enable their effective participation.

It is clear from this that we are threatened with a shortage of lots. For this reason we have arranged for additional lots at the down-stream end of Ile Notre Dame.

In all, we have spoken to at least six hundred potential private exhibitors so, if we say we'll have fifty pavilions by over one hundred private exhibitors, we don't feel we are being too optimistic.

As businessmen, I think you will be interested in the Business Development Bureau that has been formed to use Expo as a means of furthering business between Canadian and foreign businessmen. The bureau is working in close co-operation with the Department of Trade and Commerce and the equivalent department of our provincial governments. Expo '67 will be a unique opportunity for Canadian businessmen to meet the thousands of their counterparts from all the major countries in the world.

But I don't want to leave the impression that Expo '67 is dedicated solely to business. It is much more, of course. It is a showcase for all man's achievements in the arts and sciences. And it is a place where we want our visitors to come and have fun. The amusement area, "La Ronde," will be a place of gaiety and merriment, with a tremendous variety of entertainment. There will be fireworks, fountains and music. For the more serious, an immense festival of the arts is being planned. Bookings for this festival have started.

This has been a quick glimpse of some of the things we, at the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition, have done already-or have in hand.

Expo '67 must be viewed as a Canadian achievement. It will show what we, Canadians, can do; to what heights our imagination and skill will carry us. It will mark Canada's coming of age in the modern world. Nothing could be more fitting on our 100th Birthday as a Nation.


Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Dr. C. C. Goldring, Past President of the Empire Club.

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Expo '67

Some details of Expo '67, and acknowledgements of co-operation with officials of the Canadian National Exhibition. What Expo '67 needs: the moral force of the nation behind it. The wish for Expo '67 to be known as a Canadian effort, not an English-Canadian or French-Canadian one. Clarification of who is bearing the heaviest share of the cost: Montreal, not the Canadian taxpayer. Who's doing what. The site itself. A report of what has already been accomplished. Progress is discussed under the following headings: Scale Model; Mackay Pier Today; Mass Transit System; Habitat; Ile Verte Today; Ile Notre Dame Today; La Ronde Today; La Ronde Model; Theme Buildings; Man and Oceans Fish Tank; The Cell; Submarine; Canadian Government Pavilion; Atlantic Provinces; Prairie Provinces. Other topics include sales; the participation of the federal government and the ten provinces; exhibitors; and the Business Development Bureau that has been formed to use Expo as a means of furthering business between Canadian and foreign businessmen. Expo '67 to mark Canada's coming of age in the modern world: fitting on Canada's 100th Birthday as a Nation.