The year was 1967. The world turned its eyes to Montréal for the International and Universal Exposition. Known simply as “Expo 67,” the event was a benchmark not just for Montréal but also for large-scale events. With 62 participating nations, the global event is recognized as the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century.
The infrastructure created for the event — the subway system, the islands, the hotels — became a unique selling proposition to subsequently secure the world’s largest sporting event: the Olympic Games. (A few years after Expo 67, Montréal hosted the historic 1976 Summer Olympics.) The architectural legacy of 1967 is still reflected in modern day Montréal, and continues to attract visitors from around the world.
Riding the Montréal subway system is perhaps the pièce de résistance of Expo 67, and a trip on the metro is an activity in time travel. While the stations have been renovated throughout the decades and the metro cars have been modernized, many of the elements remain unchanged. Passengers can hear the familiar door closing chime, smell the light aroma of yellow birch from the wooden brake pads, and view over one hundred works of public art — such as sculpture, stained glass and murals — by noted Quebec artists. (Many of these works were installed in the late 1960s.)
Interestingly, the system attracts the second-highest ridership per capita in North America, only behind New York City. It’s a system that works.
HEIRLOOM EVENT VENUES
Speaking of things that work, Expo 67 has also left a legacy of incredible meeting venues. Event professionals have a selection of venue options that reflect the architectural distinctiveness of the late 1960s. Constructed for Expo 67, these venues are still available for private events and functions today.
Biosphere. Originally formed an enclosed structure of steel and acrylic cells, the geodesic dome was conceived by Buckminster Fuller as the pavilion for the United States. These days it’s home to the Montréal Biosphère (a museum dedicated to ecology), and offers a variety of space rental for groups that align with their environmental mandate.
La Toundra. Located at the heart of a well-manicured garden, La Toundra Hall is known for its large windows overlooking the verdant landscape and the cityscape. The former Pavillion du Canada during Expo 67.
Pavillon de la Jamaïque. The former home of the Jamaican delegation, the building has been completely renovated to provide the ultimate in comfort and services.
Casino de Montréal. The francophiles in your group will love the French pavilion, which has been transformed into Canada’s largest casino. Plenty of different venue options are available, and can be paired with in-house entertainment options and delectable cuisine.
Place Bonaventure. One of the most spectacular examples of brutalism, a style that is easily identifiable for its angular geometric shapes and the use of concrete as the primary construction material. It’s one of the biggest and friendliest exhibition centres in Montréal.
Marriott Château Champlain. Designed by Quebec architects Roger D’Astous and Jean-Paul Pothier, the Château Champlain hotel was built to accommodate the flood of visitors expected for Expo 67. The hotel has three distinct meeting room options.