The Official Inauguration of Expo 67

By Carmen Desmeules (translated by Emilie Gosselin)

Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada

At 3:59 p.m., the Governor General of Canada, Rolland Michener, declares – in French, then in English – in front of some 6000 people at the Place des Nations, the official inauguration of the 1967 International and Universal Exposition.

Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien makes his way to the Places Des Nations: “I want to be there when it opens, to see the effect it will have, the critical moment when they will raise the Canadian flag. Because they raised the flags of the 80 participating countries with each of their national anthems. It was very a moving event.”

Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada

God Save the Queen and Oh Canada are played. An aerobatic patrol of nine Canadian Forces jets flies over Man and His World. The sirens of every ship in the Port of Montreal welcome the event, as well as the destroyers.

Church bells ring, jets of water spray from fountains, and mini parachutes, coloured with the flags of participating countries, fall from the sky.

John Diefenbaker. Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada

A sober, yet solemn and moving ceremony, unites the 62 General Commissioners of the exhibiting countries, the Prime Ministers of the ten provinces and territories, the hostesses, hundreds of journalists, filmmakers and photographs from around the Globe. “People were so happy. I think it was cold on the 27th. There had been a light snowfall at the same time. You know how snow falls sometimes when the sun is out,” Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien recalls.

Pierre Dupuy’s opening speech. Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada

The unfolding of the inauguration was broadcast on international TV and radio, and captured some of the speeches of General Commissioner Pierre Dupuy, Prime Minister of Québec Daniel Johnson, Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, and other dignitaries. Mrs. de Saint-Exupéry attends the official ceremonies, for which the theme was borrowed from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s piece: Terre des hommes (Man and His World).

Jean Drapeau, the Mayor of Montreal, exclaims:

“In the name of my colleagues at the municipal council, rest assured that we will study and take, with the authorities of each pavilion, all the necessary measures to insure that these islands fulfill their destiny of becoming an International City, where every pilgrim of Man and His World will always be able to reunite and see the will of humanity to enrich today’s civilization to the benefit of humanity tomorrow.”

Jean Drapeau. Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada
Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada

The Museum of Contemporary Art is inaugurated at the Cité du Havre. This day is dedicated to the employees, their friends and families who came to visit the site, seeing as for the 186 days to come, they will all be at their workstations.

The day ends illuminated by fireworks at La Ronde, which will be repeated every evening at 11:45 p.m.

Photo credit  – Library and Archives Canada

To learn more about the great people behind Expo 67, read this article!