|THE WONDROUS FAIR
by The Canadian Magazine
Distributed by Southstar Publishers
Vol. 3, No. 24, June 17, 1967
following article entitled, "The Wondrous Fair", was culled from the
now defunct "The Canadian Magazine." The publisher focused on the "five
senses" (feel; taste; sound; sight; and smell) that a visitor to Expo 67
would experience. The "five senses" were written by five different
journalists providing their own unique interpretation of what they
experienced at the time including one nice write-up on the food that was
available at Expo 67.
THE WONDROUS FAIR
Sight, sound, taste, smell, feel - these are the five senses by which we know and judge the world around us, and, beginning on this page, five staff writers of The Canadian have brought them into play at Expo 67. Above all else, Canada's world fair is a highly sensual experience and a highly personal one: the theme is Man And His World, and individual responses to the centennial world that's been created in Montréal are as varied as those that separate one person from another in less magic years. Here, then, is a subjective look at Expo through the senses - with the sense of feel applied its broadest meaning; namely, not what a visitor touches, but, more important, what touches him.
"...Expo is a vast work of art; and it makes you feel your greatness..."
by Harry Bruce, Associate Editor
|"WHAT is that?" the African
asks. He a squinting in the extravagant sunlight, looking north across the
glittering action of the St. Lawrence to the grey towers and purple cliffs
of downtown Montréal. A long, smooth wind is blowing into Expo like a
train out of the Far West and, for a moment, the man's brilliant tribal
robes fly around him, and rattle. He gets them back under control and then
his companion, a French Canadian, says, "That? Oh, that is only the
The Montréal skyline has a raw, spectacular beauty in this summer of triumph and romance but, here on the windy heights of the Canadian pavilion, here in the strange and Olympian atmosphere of Expo 67, the French Canadian's remark is not even surprising. It's simply right. For Montréal is only the city. It is merely life as it is; and Expo is life as it should be.
Expo 67 is a sprawling camp of buildings that look like huge jewels spilled from a bag. It is also a brave and boastful monument to our own genius. It is a happy land of sudden acts of kindness and unsolicited smiles; a garden of candy floss, of strange liquor, cars in the sky, sculpture, unearthly machines, endless sensation. It is a place of international alliance, private liaison and weird community of spirit. It is the world's biggest party. The men there are forever shaking hands, and the girls are always laughing.
It is all, somehow, a taste of the world we are sure we could make, if only we could find the answers. And, for a little while anyway, it achieves a miracle: each day, it makes hundreds of thousands of people feel that they have all stepped together into a better place than they've known, and that they have something in common because this is where people come when they want to be happy and good. That miracle is one of the great feelings of Expo.
NOW, THE ELECTRONIC BELLS in the old tower on the hills of Ile Sainte-Hélène have begun to send their Sunday-morning sounds out over the people, and some other feeling settles in the paths of Expo. The bells - by contrast with the beeps, the chirps, the mechanical clunks and clickety-clicks, and the other noises of tomorrow at Expo have a deep, old-fashioned quality. They are an elderly man talking of his childhood, and they are sad.
They serenade the men in green suits who are down on the grass by the edge of the water raking up the dead firecrackers of the night before. The bells argue that, tomorrow, everyone must go back to his job and that, by the time the snow falls, all the tents and most of the roofs of Expo must come down, and that the only permanent thing these millions of people will take away from the fair is the right to say, "Yes, I was there."
As the bells sound, a dark amphitheatre over in the French pavilion is showing a film about the modern history of Paris. The film gives you Mistinguett, the young Chevalier, girls kissing the soldiers who are marching to the trenches, the alleys of Paris, the voice of Piaf, and the morning breaking after the blackness of the Second World War.
A beautiful woman sits by herself on a park bench, with the sunlight in her blonde hair, and the commentary tells us that, in Paris, love is brighter, and pain is deeper. The film starts with quaint scenes from the great world's fair at Paris in 1901. That was more than two world wars ago; and now, the bells of Expo are saying that there are people, perhaps even here on the grounds, who can say about that fair, too, "Yes, I was there."
The bells speak of time, and they define the gap between the magnificent illusion of Expo and, across the water, the reality of the cities that are only cities. The bells, if you listen, give you the reverse side of Expo's joy, and that is another feeling of the fair.
THE PLACE where the African and the French Canadian are standing is on the north side of the Katimavik. The Katimavik (from the Eskimo for "meeting place") is the crown of the Canadian pavilion. It's a blue-green glassy affair that opens like a strange, 1,000 ton flower to a height of nine storeys.
The view from the Katimavik is extraordinarily dramatic in every direction. Moreover, the eerie electronic symphony up here in the wind, and the great shadowy symbols that Canada has installed to represent "things universal to all men," combine to create an air of mystery and spiritual grandeur.
The Katimavik is more than striking architecture; it is a celebration. It celebrates the idea of Expo 67. It celebrates the gathering of nations to show their pride in human achievement and to demonstrate that, on remarkable occasions like this one, they can really manage to be very nice to one another.
The spirit of the Katimavik is the reason why there is a subtle quality to the good times at Expo - a quality that lifts these good times to something better, something more like fine wine, than the pleasures of ordinary world fairs.
On the level of the Canadian pavilion that lies just below the Katimavik, the idea of Expo is more explicit. Here, exposed to the winds of summer on all sides, there's a roughly circular network of triangular flags and white pennants that offer wise old sayings from many nations. Down in La Ronde, Expo's amusement area, there's a carnival game entitled "Knock Sputnik's Teeth Out" but, up here, the pennants offer more hopeful reasons for coming to Expo:
"We cannot dwell in a house together without speaking to one another...help me to help you climb the ridge...do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by friends...policy goes beyond strength...one is never a friend by force...not to injure is the first of virtues."
A lot of people are standing around reading this stuff but, even here in the heady air of Expo, you must expect the intrusions of the cities that are only cities. Two businessmen charge by the flags, and one is worriedly telling the other, "But I only hope I can write to him and say that we're making a lot of money." A young mother is trying to read a flag that says, "Without rules there can be no perfection," but her daughter is swinging on the mother's hand and wailing, "I want to go get some goodies."
KIDS WANT GOODIES, men want a drink, old people want to sit down in the subway, hundreds upon thousand of people are wondering where in the hell are the toilets, and why do we have to line up for a crummy hot dog? These, however, are the preoccupations of crowds at gatherings all over the world.
The thing that makes Expo remarkable, the thing that sometimes makes it seem superhuman, is the goodwill it manages to force on the people who go there. This atmosphere opens people to one another. It invests the smallest incident with significance and, somehow, makes idle conversation matter:
• A puffy middle-aged Canadian businessman, who looks as though he has never spoken to a stranger in his life (much less a Negro stranger), finishes his Planter's Punch at the cool, outdoor bar of Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada. He turns and looks, more enviously than resentfully, at the skinny young Negro on the stool beside him. The Negro has just arrived to work at Expo.
"You know," the businessman says, for no clear reason, "it ought to be a lot of fun, as time goes on and you know where to go, people to meet." The Negro unleashes a beautiful smile and, in his soft, funny West Indian way, says, "Yeh, it's a swingin' place."
• An eight-year-old boy stoops to pick up a key that an old woman in a blue and white polka-dot dress has dropped on one of the subway platforms. He hands it to her and astonished, she says, "Why, thank you very much." He runs up the platform, blushing under the station's long orange and white awning.
• The Cuban pavilion sells the revolution hard. It offers ugly photographs of the Batista regime, movies of bloody battles, and references to "the shiverings of death and the singing summer joy of VICTORY." But the bar in the Cuban pavilion features rich, dark, polished wood, gleaming mirrors, suave bartenders and an atmosphere that speaks so clearly of the old days in Havana that the place is full of nostalgic Americans.
One of them - a jolly, round, tanned little man with a grey moustache - keeps asking the proprietor how old so-and-so is making out down there in Cuba these days. Then, he chats for a while with a lady who has brought her fur coat all the way from Labrador City and, after a while, the whole bunch of them move on. "Hasta la vista!" they shout. "Hasta la vista!" The waiters smile a lot, and wave goodbye.
• Outside the Ontario pavilion, two shockingly pretty French-Canadian girls, wearing mini-mini-mini shirts are teasing a sternly handsome member of the Ontario Provincial Police. They are asking for directions in French. He is blushing so hard he must be a rookie.
"Do you not speak any English?" he stammers. "Ah non, monsieur," one of them says, pouting so very, very sadly. She reaches out, for a second and touches the back of his hand. ("If it responds it lives," says a sign in the pavilion called Man The Explorer. "If it lives it responds.")
• Thirty or forty teen-agers of both sexes wearing brown uniforms with orange scarfs, crowd aboard a subway car that's already so packed that the mob inside gives them furious looks. Then, as the subway moves out past the grey ships in the harbor and the astonishing structures of Expo, the kids all begin to sing French-Canadian folk-songs. They are some sort of choir. They sing and sing and sing and, within a few minutes, they've got the whole car full of people laughing and grinning foolishly and singing along with them.
They are still singing as they squeeze their way out of the car and head towards the Man And Life exhibit.
There, among the incredible representations of life cells, the human brain, and the processes of human thought, they will find a different kind of singing and, on one of the walls, a quote from Hamlet that indicates how well Shakespeare understood why men build things like Expo:
"What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!"
ONE OF EXPO'S PAVILIONS tries to give us an idea of how small "the paragon of animals" really is. "lf the world shrank until it was a ball just ten feet across, the highest mountains would be no thicker than a coat of paint," a sign tells us. The deepest ocean trenches would become a faint scratch. Our biggest buildings would be smaller than specks of dust. And man would be invisible except under a powerful magnifying lens.
This, like virtually everything else at the fair, is fascinating stuff but it is a measure of Expo's joy that nothing there, no matter how deeply impressive, makes you feel that men are small.
"Possibly," a sign in the French pavilion says, "one of the highest functions of Art is to make men conscious of the greatness which they ignore in themselves. " Expo itself is a vast work of art; and it makes you feel your greatness. It makes you feel something the way Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov must have felt when, circling the earth, he spoke by radio to the cities that are only cities.
"I am eagle!" he said. "I am eagle!" "I am eagle!"
"...A first-class treat for the ordinary palate, a feast for the greediest gourmand and a paradise for the connoisseur of haute cuisine."
by Frank Rasky
|AS ANY EPICURE knows, a fair
is no fair unless it serves an ungreasy, non-rubbery hot dog and French
fries that do not taste like shoestrings swimming limply in lard. Expo
meets these primary gastronomic standards in first-rate style. For 35
cents you can buy a succulent chien chaud (Québecois for a wiener
on a bun). And the patates frites (French for fried potatoes) are
firm and crunchy at 25 cents for a good serving.
In fact, after five days of tasting, I found the food at the Montréal fair generally a first-class treat for the ordinary palate, a feast for the greediest gourmand, and a paradise for the connoisseur of haute cuisine.
More than 150 restaurants and stand-up snack bars are ready to provide you with every conceivable delicacy - from a 60-cent buffalo burger (rather dry until smothered with habitant-style tomato ketchup) to a $2.25 scoop of black beluga caviar (surprisingly unsalty, and delicious on black Russian bread).
The only trouble is that the Expo officials have not seen fit to house all these international goodies under the roof of one theme pavilion, which might well have been billed as Man And His Stomach. A taster intent on sampling the variety of fare at the Montréal kitchens can ramble around 1,000 acres.
What's more, the crowds lined in front of the restaurants are so formidable that you get the impression that both man-made islands of Sainte-Hélène and Notre-Dame are bound to sink again under their weight to the bottom of the St. Lawrence. Even to buy a bagful of my favorite carnival caramel popcorn (25 cents plus 2 cents Québec sales tax). I had to stand in line for almost half an hour at the candy floss stand cheerfully operated by Jean Perkizas at the entrance of La Ronde amusement park.
If you expect to visit Expo for only one day, you'd be better off bringing a box lunch and eating it leisurely at one of the many umbrella-shaded picnic tables scattered on the banks of the la goons throughout the fair grounds.
If your visit is to last anywhere from a weekend to a week, I'd suggest these two tips: for lunch, make sure you arrive at the restaurant you've selected at 11:30 a.m., before the luncheon mob begins to gather; and, for a fancy dinner, make a reservation with the maître d' at least the night before.
If you come unprepared, you'll have to take your chances at grabbing an un-quick lunch at one of the some 70 snack booths.
But most people visit a world's fair not to sample the conventional, but the exotic and the offbeat. I doubt, for instance, if you'll taste a light breakfast more satisfying than the one I combined from two nations.
For 50 cents I bought three Flemish smoutevol at the Belgian doughnut stand. These are scrumptious balls of flaky dough, baked with sour green apples, and sprinkled with icing sugar. The proprietor, William Debruyn Delforge from Antwerp, informed me that his doughnuts were a "zensational zell-out" at both the Brussels and New York World's Fairs and I believe him.
I devoured them with a 35-cent cup of mocha coffee brewed at the Ethiopian pavilion. It is one of those rare coffees that tastes as rich and heady as its fragrance, and its mahogany-brown color was as beautiful as the native waitress in a gold-filigreed cotton wrap who poured it for me.
If your taste runs to unorthodox soup, I'd recommend the 50 cent plate of black bean Habanera, which is accurately described by maître d' Isadoro Arditti of Cuba's cha cha restaurant as "fiery as our tropical sun."
He suggested that I soothe my burning tongue by quaffing a $1.20 El Centenario cocktail. This concoction is a double rum and grenadine mixture especially invented in a Cuba-wide contest among bartenders to discover the most potent elixir for Expo.
I had an equivalent hair-raising experience at the Moskva, the 1,000-seat restaurant in the Russian pavilion that looks massive enough to be a rocket-launching pad. I ordered a plate of Ukrainian borsch, (85 cents), and three Russian bliny ($1.10).
It was disappointing all around. The service was terrible. I had to wait three-quarters of an hour, meanwhile listening to a musician strum his balalaika to interminable, melancholy variations of the Volga Boat Song.
When my order did arrive, my overly-garlicked borsch was not half as tasty as the sweet cabbage soup my Russian grandmother used to make. And the buckwheat pancakes, I thought, would have tasted better with maple syrup rather than with their heavy garnish of sour cream.
I tried to drown my sorrow by asking the bar captain to mix me the strongest vodka drink the Russians had in stock. He turned out to be a vodka connoisseur with the highly unSlavic name of Eddy Sullivan - an Irishman from San Antonio, Texas, who worked for the French-Canadian Québec Sports Service. He poured me out a 75 proof shot of Moscow Starka ($1.50 plus 12 cents tax), which was scarlet-colored instead of the white vodka we are accustomed to. A wow of a drink.
For good measure, he also offered me a 10-year-old Russian brandy called Sturnik ($2 plus 16 cents tax). I was astonished to find it smoother and mellower than the finest French cognac, and it packed the wallop of a Molotov cocktail as well. I left the Soviet pavilion glowing with international amity and resisting the impulse to spring into a Cossack sabre dance.
Among other morsels I hugely enjoyed were: the roget rensdyr, or smoked reindeer, at the Scandinavian Midnight Sun snack bar ($2 a helping, a little gamey, but piquant when served with asparagus on a Danish smoerrebroed open-faced sandwich); the thick-crusted kirshwasser wine tart for 90 cents at the Swiss grotto and the paper-thin-crusted apfelstrudel for 65 cents at the Vienna Woods cafe; a mouth-watering crêpe Normande at Belgium's Le Bruxelles restaurant (a $1.75 apple pancake soaked in brandy and caramel); and Israel's kosher marriage with the Arabs - a $1.15 plate of falafel (Arabic beans ground into a savory dip) served with pita bread (a crusty pocket of baked dough).
By and large, imported beer is costly, but the cosy atmosphere of the beer gardens helps make up for the steep tariff. At Whitbread's Bulldog Pub, you pay $1.08 for a pint of good Mackeson stout and $2.43 for a Melton Mowbray pork pie with potato salad and a roll.
At the Löwenbrau München Bavarian restaurant in La Ronde, it seems exorbitant to pay $1.08 for a small stein of beer, half of it foam. Yet it's entertaining to listen to the brassy Munich ban blare out a polka and to watch the waitresses in short dirndl skirts and Alpine hats dart about with their $3.92 plates of salad and wiener schnitzel.
If I had to restrict my guide to the four best meals of those I found at Expo, I would nominate these:
The best low-cost meal was at La Brasserie, the circular restaurant set in a landscaped beer garden at the Brewers Association of Canada pavilion. Here, under gay chandeliers made up of 60 different brands of bottled beer, your most expensive meal with be a 12-ounce Alberta rib steak with all the trimmings for $2.50.
But for $1.75 you can order a juicy Québec tourtière or meat pie (two-thirds pork and one-third beef) which has been simmered in ale. Along with it you get pork and beans cooked in beer, french fries and bread and butter. For an extra 25 cents you're bound to want a frosty six-ounce mug of draught beer (which Bernard Janelle, owner of Montréal's celebrated Le Gobelet tavern, meticulously insists on serving at a temperature of 40 to 42 degrees).
If you've brought the kids with you, they can take in free the delightful bilingual show at the adjoining 210-seat puppet theatre, and then order a beerless meat pie for $1 and a fizzy 15-cent glass of root beer.
The most exotic meals are served in an atmosphere redolent of the Taj Mahal at the Maharani Tea Terrace of the India pavilion. Here curried dishes, costing between $2 to $4 each, are served by hostesses gliding to your table in lemon-yellow saris and by orange-turbaned Sikhs brandishing black scimitar moustachios.
At $2.50, the tandoori chicken curry is an appetizing dish, its 12 separate spices toned down to conform to placid Canadian palates. But I found the Delhi pickles, which look like tiny sour apples, hotter than any Mexican tamales. The curry, by the way, is supposed to be spooned up with your nan - the Yorkshire pudding-like bread whose crust is folded over to form a scoop.
I was surprised to discover the most luxurious haute cuisine at Communist Czechoslovakia's Castle Room. The surroundings are the height of elegance. The powder-blue murals feature the royalty of old Prague playing at gambling games; the maître d', Jiri Kulis, and the waiters in their red swallowtail jackets, looking like mementoes of the aristocratic past, have all been imported from Czechoslovakia's best hotels and restaurants.
Each item on the menu is sold a la carte at kingly prices. I found the hors d'oeuvres (pâté and Caspian Sea caviar at $1.30) impeccable. The pork chops stuffed with sausage (listed, perhaps nostalgically, as "Slovak peasant-style") were worth every penny of the $7 charged. The Neuburg white wine ($5 a bottle from southern Moravia) was nicely dry. The Borovicka juniper brandy ($1.10 a tumbler) had a faint bouquet of rosewater, but a terrific oomph to it.
And the chocolate cream pastry ($3) was a confectioner's dream come true. Counting a tip, my lunch tab came to a paunchy capitalistic total of $20.
Finally, at the risk of sounding chauvinistic, I would give my vote to La Toundra in the Canadian pavilion for serving the best all-around meal - in terms of reasonable price, smart décor, fast service and excellent food.
Everything in this 650-seat restaurant is done in an Arctic motif. Igloo murals on the sea-green walls were created by Eskimo artists from Cape Dorset on Baffin Island. The seats are upholstered in authentic sealskin. Three genuine Eskimo girls serve as hostesses, and the bilingual waiters are tastefully decked out in what is called "high Arctic" style: soft tan jackets with black turtleneck sweaters.
At $3.50, I had a superb meal - beaver tail consommé, roast Ontario turkey stuffed with chestnuts, maple sugar pie and a truly noble cup of coffee. But the pièce de résistance came when one of the attractive Eskimo hostesses served me a $1.15 assortment of inuk titbits - most notable of which were the smoked ilkalu (a delicate Arctic char) and the succulent slices of grilled muktuk (the skin of the white whale, tangy with a dash of lemon juice).
In the words of Raymond Waleau, the Ludwig Bemelmans-like maître d', formerly director of food operations at Montréal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel: "No new discovery has emerged in the food world since the development of Cornish hen. With the introduction of the Arctic whale, Canada may create a culinary revolution at Expo."
"...Recorded sounds echo those of the forests, industry and the city. Accelerated, slowed down and mixed up, they create a weird mish-mash that permeates the building..."
by Barry Conn Hughes
|EVERY MORNING at 9:30 a sort
of player piano roll begins to turn in a room at the base of the Lévis
Tower, on a wooded hill in Hélène de Champlain park. Tiny steel hammers
strike some of the 671 tuned metal bars housed in a row of cabinets. You
hear a faint tinkling inside as the bars vibrate.
A generator changes the sound vibrations into electrical impulses, and an amplifier builds them up hundreds of thousands of times. Then the impulses pass to 46 speakers at the top of the old stone tower and are converted into bell music.
Great, booming chimes peal out to the farthest corners of the site. It's the theme song, Hey Friend, Say Friend and Expo 67 is open for another day.
In the afternoon and evening, carilloneur Lucien Hétu will play concerts of popular and light classical tunes himself. Seated at the nearby console of the Sun Life Centenary Carillon, the slight organist has the equivalent of 1,500 tons of cast bells at his fingertips, boosted by the most powerful electronic amplifier for music in the world.
Meantime, you're down at Place d'Accueil, carried along in a gay, chattering crowd toward a battery of turnstiles. The stile flips over with a firm ka-thunk, and you're plunged into the sounds of Expo.
It's relatively subdued along Cité du Havre. Hundreds of clacking typewriters are tucked away in the administration and news building; and down the line at Habitat 67, there's only a soft rush of wind through the building-block housing units. But in the courtyard of the Man In The Community pavilion, hidden speakers play ping-pong around you with undulating electronic noises straight out of a science fiction movie.
Starting out for Ile Sainte-Hélène, the free Expo-Express train squeaks like a new shoe, and then settles into a businesslike rumble as it crosses the Concordia Bridge. Near the Place des Nations stop, people are resting on benches around Swan Lake, watching giant fountains spout and bubble. You are never far from the sound of water at Expo. The St. Lawrence glides around the islands, and the scores of splashing jets, fountains, canals and lakes are somehow calming.
The mood is destroyed inside Man The Explorer, when you listen to The Angry Earth. A film recessed in the wall shows a volcanic island erupting from the sea with boiling, rumbling lava.
Down the hall, in a display depicting the population explosion, a clock ticks relentlessly while a computer adds two persons per second to its world total. A baby cries "Mama, mama" in the background.
Other pavilions on Ile Sainte-Hélène tell something of what man is doing to cope with his crowded world. In the Telephone pavilion, you learn how touch telephones and advanced switching systems speed up communications - and get a surprise when you address the Voice Mirror and hear your own voice on the phone for the first time.
Expo's own technological nerve centre, Operations Control, is on the other side of the island. Here, from a glass-walled gallery, you look down on the control room with its closed-circuit television, illuminated maps and flashing situation board. Below, controllers speak urgently into microphones, a radio sputters and teletypes click. A red light indicates an emergency on the site and operators bustle about.
Crossing over to Ile Notre-Dame, you come upon the giant Canadian complex. Costumed soldiers are setting up the noonday gun, and the old cannon goes off with a tremendous boom. The Mountie has difficulty controlling his whinnying horse, and creases his impassive features just enough to mutter "C'mon, damn it."
Inside, you wander through a maze of exhibits about our land and its people followed by the belching and gurgling of a mining flotation device in the Resources section.
The folk ensemble, Les Feux-Follets, holds forth each afternoon except Monday in the pavilion's theatre. They dance in moccasins, tap shoes, cowboy boots and wooden clogs; and fill the air with resounding tom-toms, bagpipes, fiddles and the spoons. They sing sweetly and shout exuberantly; and you clap and clap until your hands are red and sore.
Next door, in the Ontario pavilion, there's an automated play going on, with five robot characters discussing career opportunities in the province.
The Atlantic Provinces across the way offer foghorns and seagulls, and the tapping of hammers and chisels as sturdy Maritimers work on a fishing schooner. ln the pavilion of Québec, recorded sounds echo those of the forests, industry and the city. Accelerated, slowed down and mixed up, they create a weird, polyphonic mish-mash that permeates the building. But a pretty guide says: "I'm here all day. I don't hear it at all, any more."
Inside the conical Western Provinces pavilion, a clanging metal mine elevator drops into the vigorous world of the West. A giant machine representing manufacturing rumbles, hisses, rattles and shakes - and doesn't make anything. There are bawling cattle and rustling wheat, and birds chirping in a giant Douglas fir.
Elsewhere, the Indians of Canada recall parts of our history we've forgotten but should remember, and a soft Indian voice asks the white man to "walk with us in your heart."
Flapping flags of scores of countries, flying outside the United Nations pavilion, urge you on to the thrilling trumpet fanfare of Great Britain and the gay Mariachi band of Mexico.
You overhear a clergyman saying to his wife: "Humph, they cut the top of the cross and they call it the Christian pavilion."
At one of the Cuban boutiques, you enquire about uses of the big palm leaf sombreros selling for $2. "Well," the man explains, "we wear them when we go to hear Fidel in Revolution Square. He talks so long, you see; and they protect you from the sun."
On the sixth floor of the soaring French pavilion, there is a panorama of French literature, and you can listen to the recorded voices of 100 French authors reading from their works. It includes Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whose Terre Des Hommes provided Expo with its theme of Man And His World.
Escaping from the cacophony, you pause for a moment under the eaves of the Thai pavilion where bronze temple bells tinkle happily in the breeze.
Now, on to the Canadian Pacific Cominco pavilion, to let stereophonic speakers play tricks on you. Visitors stop very briefly indeed in the little booth where a tape-recorded bee buzzes around their heads.
Lions roar and jungle birds screech in Africa Place; where you pick up a brochure from an inn in Kenya that says: "It is preferred that personal servants do not accompany visitors."
Wandering through Tunisia, Morocco and Ethiopia, you hear strange music with strange names from lutes and flutes and a long-necked stringed instrument called the uud.
At the Russian pavilion, crowds surround the scientific advisers who explain, in their ever-so-precise English, technological marvels you can't understand.
But it's evening now and time for La Ronde. Expo-Express disgorges merry-makers into a mélange of screams and shouts from the wild, whirling rides, and a gaggle of barkers crying: "Hey - by - golly - the - little - lady - wins - a - big - one," and "You wanna deal? You wanna practice shot? I'll give you a practice shot."
The barroom doors swing open at the Golden Garter Saloon, where the Flora Dora girls squeal, and the man pounds a honky-tonk piano and the roisterers whistle and clap and sing along with a busty, bustled floozie who growls: "You gotta see mama every night or you won't see mama at all."
Outside, a pinball machine at the penny arcade goes plunk, plunk, plunk, ring! An ornate, antique merry-go-round revolves as the old calliope plays the Carousel Waltz.
You find a Dixieland band playing Muskrat Ramble. A clarinet wails, and a banjo goes tuck-a-tuck-a-tuck-a-tuck; weary feet are suddenly tapping the pavement and they're dancing in the street.
And as you head for Expo-Express and home, everybody's joined in and you can still hear them signing, "Roll out the barrel, for the gang's...all...here."
''... It's mini-skirts and saris and Caribbean calico, navy bell-bottoms and togas, nuns travelling in pairs, teens travelling in packs, babies in strollers and little kids pointing excitedly at something inconsequential..."
by Maggie Grant
|THE EYES OF Canada have been
studying Expo since long before the grand opening. Courtesy of
photography, they have grown accustomed to its face. But Expo is really
for eyes, not lenses.
Eyes reveal that Habitat is not just an odd-looking housing concept, but vital and humanly compatible and that it offers the unheralded enticement of views that include ocean shipping right on your doorstep.
The United States pavilion is not just a geodesic dome, but a crystal bubble that twinkles with sun rays the day long.
The People Tree is not just a structure hung with picture panels, but a warm experience, as the many faces of Canada meet the gaze from their scarlet and gold panels, seeming to enfold you in brotherly embrace.
The great groupings of flags are not just flags but explosions of color against the sky, punctuated by the gold balls atop most of the poles. Rivalling their height, slimmer poles spring upward in colored clusters from the Swiss time clocks all over the grounds, to sway and nudge and jostle each other as though aping the crowds below.
Expo is movement, it's humanity seething in all directions, escalators flowing them upward, stairs clip-clopping them down, heads bobbing ash blonde to kinky black to bald-as-an-egg.
It's mini-skirts and saris and Caribbean calico, navy bell-bottoms and togas, nuns travelling in pairs, teens travelling in packs, babies in strollers and little kids pointing excitedly at something inconsequential. It's Pedicabs and the Expo-Express and the gay canopies of the Minitrains weaving up a tapestry.
As the Minitrain curls its sedate way through and around the buildings, the questioning eye discovers that architectural planes move and regroup themselves into ever-fresh perspectives. The gaze lowers to trail across unsuspected waters, reflecting pools, small harbors lolling with boats, lagoons, canals, each intriguing the sight with its own inverted picture of the scene.
Attention is caught by a sculpture, then another sculpture and another - why they're everywhere! Iron, bronze, wood, nickel, concrete; some move, or crackle or whistle, or spout flame, weird, enigmatic, yet, in this setting, their message begins to come through.
The eye takes note of traditional forms fitted into this futuristic world, of the gem-like temple of Thailand and turquoise water rocking a boat-for-kings-only, all golden dragons and many-tiered umbrellas. Of the pointy tent peak of the Ethiopian pavilion and the Aztec arch Mexico has erected as the entrance to its main showcase.
In the Museum of Fine Arts the eye marvels to see a Siberian stone carving of the 8th, century, a 2nd-century Tunisian mosaic and a 17th-century Japanese scroll sharing the same room with a canvas painted by Braque in 1956 and a 1937 Picasso, and it shares the joys and sorrows of man in the photography exhibit next door.
It is eyes that compel protesting feet into yet another building, for never again may sight feast itself in one day upon luscious silks from India and great stalagmites of glass blown in Czechoslovakia, nor be dazzled by the lights that suddenly flash all over the storeys-high network of cables that fills the French pavilion with other-world music composed by mathematics.
Eyes pop with astonishment at the elongated breasts modelled by African sculptors, at the unabashed genitals bestowed upon the carved warrior just inside the Indians of Canada pavilion.
Eyes dart to unexpected finds, from a collection of early American attempts to build a better mouse trap to the dodo bird reconstructed from bits and pieces found on Mauritius, to the flamboyant carnival costumes fluttering in the Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada pavilion.
It is eyes that trick the body into fancying it's floating out into a firmament of stars in Labyrinth's great, black cavern winking with pinpoint lights; that forces shoulders to tighten and cringe as Man And The Polar Regions' wide-wide screen takes a hedge-hopping flight over icebergs; that make a person jump backward when the submarine Nautilus breaks through the icecap underfoot; that heave the tummy when real water splashes against granite slabs in Britain's pavilion, that make the head spin in the CNR pavilion upon discerning through its walls of black plastic that others are walking about quite normally while you are undergoing a sort of psychedelic experience.
After the retina has recorded this and much more, evening falls to blot out the people, and the burgeoning lights of Expo bring it yet another face. Unremarked curves and angles spring into prominence, turrets become garden party paper lanterns, the People Tree is a glowing coal and the U.S. bubble seems to hover on the horizon like a mysterious planet.
Eyelids droop dreamily over such beauty, fly open again as the fireworks begin with a bang, then wink away a gathering mist as the sky fills with a million falling stars.
"... Such is the problem and the delight with Expo smells. They're always changing with time, the winds, the weather, the swirl of human bodies..."
by Tom Alderman
|AGREED THAT you can
enjoy Expo without smelling anything. But with a nose tuned for
action, eager to ferret elusive essences lurking gingerly about the
premises, you can have the full-rounded sensual enjoyment denied those
with less alert nostrils.
Unfortunately, few exhibits set out consciously to smell. Modern packaging, air conditioning, plate glass window displays are always there to thwart the odor-lover's consummation. But nevertheless, each pavilion possesses its own characteristic odors, influenced by its building materials, exhibits and furnishings - and the people who hang around the place. One healthy sniff and what seems humdrum takes on new dimensions.
So it is that the otherwise-bland Burma pavilion gains a certain exotic piquancy by the rich garlic breath flowing from one of the helpful attendants. And the Cameroun pavilion would be just another routine collection of local products were it not for the gentle essence of sliced Polish sausage wafting from a boa constrictor skin.
These pavilions might deny such fragrances, but few are even aware of the smells that envelop them. Consider Jean Routhier in the Man The Provider Pavilion.
"Smell?" says the wiry Mr. Routhier. "It don't smell here." Thirty years a poultry man, Mr. Routhier's job at Expo is keeping 770 chickens content while visitors look on from behind glass windows. Because of those windows, the casual snifler detects little chicken aroma, but if you can persuade Mr. Routhier to let you sniff inside - hoo boy! - are you ever rewarded.
"Look, there's no smell here. You really wanna smell something? Come back on a rainy day and smell a wet chicken. Now there's a smell even I can't get used to."
Few people smell things exactly alike. Every thing on this earth smells - only some give off more odor molecules than others. The more developed your sense of smell - and, because of the present emphasis on odorlessness, it's probably not too highly developed - the more perceptive is the smell-detecting olfactory area in your nose. Even then, smell is often distorted en route to the brain by a nerve cluster that plays down some smells and exaggerates others, coloring them with the person's background, personality and imagination.
Any Maritimer wandering through the old anchor collection in the Atlantic Provinces pavilion might suspect the tang of salt in the air. I didn't, but I can say confidently that the British pavilion is bulging with moist, heavy, musty, typically-British air - the same cursed air that gave me my sinus trouble.
Smells are most appreciated when you're hungry. Because taste and smell are closely intertwined, your sense of smell is sated after you've eaten. Betake yourself, then, to the India pavilion just before luncheon. There, filling the second floor, is one of Expo's great fragrances. Sandalwood, a huge slab of it, but subtle, so subtle, that you're surrounded by it almost before you're aware it's there. Drink it in - the dry, Iight, lingeringly sweet perfume of the sandalwood tree.
"Alas, the smell does not last," says the hostess. "It will get weaker with the months, though we hope it'll stay for all of Expo. Tell people to get here soon for the best smells."
Such is the problem and the delight with Expo smells. They're always changing with time, the winds, the weather, the swirl of human bodies - for we each have an odor woven from our diet, our moods, our life style and our environment. And wherever we go, we leave behind traces of our odor while carrying away wisps of the places we visit.
So perhaps there's hope for the Bulldog Pub in La Ronde. Perhaps, after enough people spill their drinks on to the polished oak bar, the place will smell more like the rustic English inn it's supposed to be. And perhaps, in time, the Federal Republic of Germany pavilion will take on a tinge of warm, glowing human aroma to complement the chill, severe, efficient essence of metal.
Odor molecules being heavy, the most alluring smells are usually found close to earth. Maybe the designer of the Western Provinces pavilion knew this when he laid out his masterpiece low and partly underground. For it's a joy for sophisticated sniffers. The mock mine shaft taking you into its bowels is properly cool, dank, slightly acrid. The transplanted wheat fields are sweet, filling, earthy - though, a trifle musty, essence of wheat not being a very good traveler. The logging camp is pine-fresh restful, with a serene grassy dampness. So it's hard to explain why, in the fisheries display, they made the fish from that enemy of honest aromas - plastic. Get your nose right in there and all you get is the essence of Princess telephone.
Hurry then to the Cuba pavilion, where the spicy fragrance of the restaurant's black bean soup, sprinkled with rice, oil and vinegar, and grated onions, hangs over the entire pavilion like a protective aura, so that the platoon of swarthy security men in baggy, oversized black suits really isn't needed. That aroma would dissuade the most determined bomb-toting anti-Castroite.
Sad to say, few pavilions allow the smells of their kitchens to drift into the exhibit area. It's their misfortune. How much more interesting the Russian heavy machinery would be if it were tinged with borsch. How much more palatable the Swiss watch exhibit if essence of Gruyere cheese were permitted to intrude. Only the shrewd Austrians, mindful of the small number of odor molecules given off by computers, send over regular gusts of schnitzel and strudel from behind the swinging glass doors of the Wienerwald Restaurant.
All these odors, along with odor molecules picked up by the wind off the St. Lawrence, and frying-food smells of the reasonably-priced hot dog, hamburger and french fries stands, blend with occasional beds of flowers and huge expanses of parkland to form the smell of Expo.
And blanketing all these is the smell of the people - shiny, sweating, laughing, happy screaming people.
Go to La Ronde for your most intense people smell. Hot, buttered popcorn hits you in the face from a stand cunningly located to envelop you just as you get off the La Ronde stop of the Expo-Express. But get past that and it's all people. They overpower the hamburgs with the works, vinegar-drowned french fries, Dutch chocolate, Emmenthal cheese at the Swiss Fondue Cheese Shop, hot, acrid, metallic ozone from the Go-Kart Rally ride. They out-smell the chimps and camels, the baby lions and ostriches, the donkeys and the - well, not quite the elephants - at the Safari. It's a fine, fine people smell, warm and giggly - girls in rose petal, kids in peppermint, elder women in musk, men in hot Caribbean sun.
Then, after the fireworks, and after the breezes have carried away the sulphur, it melts away Ieaving behind mountains of wonderfully organic garbage - garbage that reaches into the taste buds. And the men in white coveralls come and carry it away, and the dew settles, sealing the odor molecules to the earth, ready to break through again when the sun rises to carry off the dew and new smells come to mingle with the old.
Copyright by The Canadian Magazine, June 17, 1967. All rights reserved.