This Week in History
Exposing Canada to the World: Expo '67
For the week of Monday January 1, 2007
On January 1, 1967, Prime Minister Lester Bowles Pearson ‘ignited’ yearlong celebrations of Canada’s 100th birthday with the lighting of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill. A highlight of the festivities was Expo ‘67.
Expositions of this category explore contemporary humanity. Consequently, the theme of the exposition was “Terre des Hommes” (Man and his World), covering five areas of human life: creation, production, exploration, the role of community, and man’s role as provider. The Canadian Corporation for the World Exposition was given the dizzying task of planning the world-class event.
A world exposition requires a lot of space. Accordingly, a man-made island, Île Notre-Dame, was constructed in the St. Lawrence River and Île Sainte-Hélène was extended at each end using land reclamation techniques. Together, the sites covered roughly 404 hectares.
As Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II toured the country to celebrate its Centennial, making a stop at Expo ‘67. There, much to the chagrin of her bodyguards, Pearson and the Queen took the monorail through the site, so everyone could see her. Among the other world leaders who visited Canada in 1967 were Princess Grace of Monaco, President Lyndon B. Johnson of the United States and French President Charles de Gaulle.
Lester Bowles Pearson, Prime Minister during Canada’s Centennial year, is a National Historic Person.
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