How the Directors of Expo 67 Defied the Canadian Government

The logo of Expo 67 sparks a lively debate in the House of Commons…

By Carmen Desmeules (translated by Emilie Gosselin)

Photo credit:  Library and Archives Canada

John Diefenbaker, Conservative Leader of the Opposition, is disgusted by the avant-garde logo create by Julien Hébert: “They look like chicken’s feet!” The members of parliament want a maple leaf or a beaver… something that represents Canada, the host country of the Universal Exhibition. But despite strict orders to change it, the Directors of Expo hold their ground against Ottawa.

“A symbol is always a bit mysterious at first, like the cross or a chemical symbol,” explains the designer of the logo, but when it is explained and accepted, it becomes very simple and obvious. This symbol is made of elements that have existed from the beginning of time, and that represent Man.”

Positioned next to one another, they suggest harmony, or “a peaceful union of hearts and will.”

“I’m not sure why it wasn’t well-received,” Hébert continues.

“Maybe, it’s because they didn’t understand its meaning. One can like or dislike it on a personal basis, but as representatives in Ottawa, I don’t think they can make that kind of judgement on a work of art.”

Sources: Expo 67 Collection, Library and Archives Canada; excerpt from the film Expo 67 Mission Impossible; interview with Yves Jasmin, May 2016.

Which other logos were considered?