Even Robarts' Shaky French Cheered
Ontario Struts Her Stuff (21 Varieties) at Expo
By The Ottawa Journal staff
MONTRÉAL (Staff) -- Saturday was Ontario Day at Expo 67.
To celebrate, the province staged a spectacular show in Place des Nations, with the Fort Henry Guard and representatives of 21 of the ethnic groups in Ontario performing.
Premier John Robarts won the approval of the 5,000 to 6,000 persons who sat in the hot sun with a speech stressing Canadian unity.
"In some areas, Ontario is seen as the symbol of English Canada," said the premier. "However, while English is the dominant language of the province, I would say rather than being 'English' we are the 'Ontario tapestry', a mosaic of people of 81 different language groupings and 161 countries, all dedicated to building a greater Canada. We are Canadians!"
Mr. Robarts twice spoke in French, which though halting, was enthusiastically received by the estimated 1,500 French-speaking persons in the audience. When he shakily but vehemently said "Nous sommes tous des Canadians," he was answered with applause and cheers.
He praised Expo for the chance it has given Canadians to become better acquainted with one another. "It is inconceivable to me that Canadians can ever again retreat into regional groupings and factions," he said.
Commissioner-General Pierre Dupuy brought greetings from Expo to the province.
As the premier approached the dais, he was saluted by the Fort Henry Guard from Kingston and by the representatives of Québec, the Compagnie Franche de les Marines. The French were dressed in the traditional blue breeches, grey coats, white gaiters and tri-cornered hats of the 17th century Navy.
After the official ceremony, the Fort Henry Guard staged a drill performance and mock battle circa the 1800's, using 1832 Armstrong field guns and 1857 rifles, filling Place des Nations with white acrid smoke and sending children scrambling after the empty cartridges. The guard was led in parade by its mascot, David, a white goat.
The concert was a mosaic of the cultural diversity of the province. One after another, 21 ethnic groups performed songs or dances.
They represented Greece, Japan, China, Spain, The Netherlands, the Philippines, the British Isles, the Ukraine and all of the Slovak peoples.
Among the most popular were the Ukrainian Kalyna dancers and the Estonian gymnasts.
Stage managers for the show kept the acts coming one after the other without a pause so that the show was completed exactly as scheduled at 5 p.m. Orchestra leader Ellis McLintock had his musicians geared to play everything from Chinese melodies to Spanish flamenco.
For the finale, most of the 1,000 performers crowded the stage to sing "Ontario" and "Canada."
The show was repeated in the evening for another capacity crowd with the Brockville Rifles replacing the Fort Henry Guard.
- End of article. Copyright by The Ottawa Journal, August 8, 1967. All rights reserved.