An exhibition designed to recapture the wonder of Expo '67 will open in Pointe Claire on Friday – and the multimedia display will be a great way to help older West Islanders explain what the world's fair meant in ushering in Montreal's 'golden era,' a Stewart Hall Cultural Centre employee said.
"It's a good chance for older West Islanders to share these memories with the younger generations," said Pointe Claire section manager for cultural activities Christine Duchesne. "I am hoping grandmothers and grandfathers come with their grandkids to show them what things were like back then; to see how people lived and share anecdotes about that time," she said.
The Expo '67 Memories exhibit, set to display in the kids' corner on the second floor of the centre, will show off a number of pieces of Expo '67 memorabilia, including souvenir passports from the Canada, United States, France, England, Russia and Ethiopia pavilions. Preserved, complete editions of the April 28, 1967 editions of the Montreal Star and Montreal Gazette touting the fair's opening will also be on display, as well as a number of other pictures, documents, publications and programs.
The official Expo '67 documentary film will also be play on a loop inside the exhibition to give some audio-visual depth to the display.
"We're going to have about 70 pieces on display. The objects I have – the plates, the plaques, the mugs – will help give visitors a reminder when they see them. I think that will bring some memories back," Duchesne said.
Most of the exhibit's display pieces – about 40 or so – come from the Dorval Museum of Local Heritage and Culture, while another 30 or so have come from a private collector, Lachine resident Gary Sims.
Sims was 17 when Expo '67 came to town, and as a columnist for the then-Lachine Messenger newspaper, he enjoyed unique VIP access to the world-fair pavilions, which frequently boasted two- to three-hour lines just to get in.
"I was able to just walk in," Sims said. "It was quite the privilege," he said, adding his memories if 1967 are of a happier time in the city's history.
"It was unbelievable to be here at that time," he said. "Everything was so different. It was a more optimistic time, more 'on-the-go.' There was none of this political crap we're going through," he said.
Duchesne, for her part, managed to turn up a coffee-table book dedicated to the Man and His World-themed fair – which came from her dad. She's also come across a Viewmaster toy with several Expo '67 slides, giving those who grew up in the '80s a chance to relive some of the nostalgia.
Stewart Hall art gallery director Joyce Millar said the display, which will run through Feb. 17, will bring generations of Montrealers together in celebration of what was a "magical" time for the city – and the West Island.
"Expo '67 was absolutely a phenomenal time. It brought Montreal onto the world stage, really and the impact of all the Canadian centennial celebrations made it just a great time to be here. That's when the West Island really took off. It was a time of great expansion," Millar said.
The exhibit will open at the Stewart Hall Cultural Centre, at 176 Lakeshore Rd. in Pointe Claire, on Jan. 19. Opening hours for the exhibit are from 1 to 5 p.m. (9 p.m. on Wednesdays). The exhibit will run through Feb. 17. Admission is free. For more information, call 514-630-1220.