Bye-Bye Expo 67

By Carmen Desmeules (translated by Emilie Gosselin)

According to the rules of the BIE (Bureau international des expositions), Saturday, October 28 was intended to be the last day of the Montreal Universal Exhibition, but the Directors got the go-ahead to close at least a day later…

On this cool morning at the Place des Nations, a crowd of about ten thousand gathered to say goodbye to Expo 67. At 10:30AM, the 50 millionth visitor wass honored, having arrived the previous day.

Two major events happened the day before: a birth and a death. It was the only birth to have happened on site, at clinic number 1 on Saint-Helen’s Island. At clinic number 3, a 57-year-old woman suffered from a fatal heart attack…

On this final day, as of 10:45, many official ceremonies were held. The mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, made a speech, addressing the entire world: The emotion each one of you feels today is of the same kind as those that accompany great moments in the lives of peoples and mankind.”

At 2PM, all entrances to Expo, the reception Place, the subway station and La Ronde were closed inexorably. A total of 50,306,648 people came to visit during these 186 days. It took over 3 hours to empty the site.

It was an emotional time for the employees and directors of Expo. “We made it!” says Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien, Director of Operations and “Mayor of Expo.” It was with extreme joy that I handed my bellboy over to my secretary, Renée Casciani. I was a slave to that little device, night and day.”

It was a “Mission Accomplished” for Director of Advertising, Information and Public Relations Yves Jasmin: “On the last day of Expo, we were very happy with its extraordinary success. We passed 50 million during the last weekend!”

“Many people were in tears,” recalls PR Liaison Officer Diana Nicholson, “even when the site was empty and the only people left were employees… It was over.”

Sources: Expo 67 Collection, Library and Archives Canada, interviews with Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien, Yves Jasmin and Diana Nicholson, 2016.

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