The Year We Had a Party and Everyone Came

pavillon

The Year We Had a Party and Everyone Came

For many Canadians, the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday brings back fond memories of Expo 67, our nation’s international exhibition, which attracted 50 million visitors from around the world, in honour of Canada’s centennial birthday. Hosted by Canada, Quebec and the City of Montreal, the exhibition was a celebration of culture, art and scientific achievements and the Brewers Association of Canada (now Beer Canada) pavilion was a feature destination. 

Held during the Summer of Love, Expo 67 featured 90 pavilions built by participating countries, provinces, companies, and organizations on two man-made islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, as well as on one of Montreal’s piers.

Fig%202.jpg

Canada’s brewers were the first industrial exhibitor to sign-up, build and complete a pavilion. No expense was spared, as they enlisted none other than Robert Fairfield, architect of the Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, to design their exhibition pavilion. Located on Expo’s Île Sainte-Hélène, the pavilion consisted of three interlocking circular buildings, which contained a restaurant/bar, a children’s puppet theatre and an exhibition area. The buildings were built of concrete, wood, and glass, and joined together by garden terraces. 

According to visitors, the Brewers Association of Canada pavilion was one of their favorite spots. The largest of the pavilion’s circular buildings, contained a restaurant called “La Brasserie” that featured daring “Nouveau-Canadian” cuisine and offered seating for 600 guests at an inside bar and an outside terrace beer garden. Visitors could choose from a total of 60 brands of beer from across the country. 

Brewers%20Pavilion%20Uniforms.jpg

While parents enjoyed a refreshing glass of beer at “La Brasserie”, their children were entertained in the second largest building of the Brewers’ pavilion which housed a 210-seat theatre where a 15-minute bilingual puppet/marionette show was presented every half hour throughout the day. In keeping with the theme of the centennial celebrations, the puppet show depicted the adventures of a little man as he travelled in his dreams across Canada, from the Atlantic coast to British Columbia’s Stanley Park. 

The last section of the pavilion, located in between the bar/restaurant and the theatre, contained an exhibition space where the Brewers’ proudly showcased the history of brewing in Canada as they “employed a unique animation technique to show nature’s contribution to the brewing industry, pointing out the fact that beer is a traditional and natural beverage.” The Brewers’ also made a point to highlight “the industry’s large contribution to the Canadian economy.”

Expo 67 was not just a birthday party – it was the defining event of the decade for Canadians, with a far reaching impact on pop culture, politics, fashion, architecture and Canadian nationalism. But, it was also a lot of fun and the Brewers Association of Canada helped make it a celebration to remember.

Wondering what happened to the Expo 67 grounds?
Following 1967 much of the Expo site was maintained as a permanent internationally-themed park called Man and His World. And while many of the national pavilions retained much of their original function, the Brewer’s Pavilion was repurposed as a children’s theatre, a puppet theatre, and eventually a national pavilion for Peru and then Bulgaria. The pavilion was finally closed in 1981, after which it fell into disrepair and was eventually demolished in the mid-1980s.

Duncan Cowie is a historian, archivist and a brewing student at the Niagara College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program. 

Share a Comment

*