AS FAIR ENTERS HOME STRETCH
Pride, Confidence, Faith in Canada Are
(By The Canadian Press) -- Long before Expo there were the skeptics, the worriers.
Canada couldn't afford it...The 1967 world's fair would never be ready in time...With all the land available, why build islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence?
Now, as Expo 67 nears the end of its six-month run, a sense of pride in achievement and a feeling of confidence in the future are evident.
The reaction is reflected in enthusiastic letters to the editor in newspapers, editorials, columnists' comments, the return-home response of individual fair-goers.
There are some who wonder whether perhaps anything from here on will be anti-climatic. For example, an editorial in the Saint John Telegram-Journal asks:
"How in the world can Canada ever reach this peak again? It's a hard act to follow."
There are others who share the confidence of Prime Minister Pearson. When he attended Expo's opening April 27 he termed it "the fulfillment of one of the most daring acts of faith in Canadian enterprise and ability ever undertaken."
Two months later he told Jacques Pigeon of Montréal La Presse: "It has given us new confidence in our ability to do things, to build things; the confidence we used to have."
The general reaction of the press and public was sampled in a Cross-Canada Survey by The Canadian Press. While it showed national pride as the dominant feeling, there were many remarks to indicate a warm friendliness toward French Canada for its hospitality.
There was early, unfavorable reaction when news stories told of poor and high-priced accommodation in Montréal, or exorbitant charges for meals and other services.
Still, the I-want-to-go-and-see-for-myself holidayer was in the majority. He found that he didn't need to spend everything he had to enjoy the big show and returned home an Expo booster.
That it was the highlight of Canada's 100th birthday celebrations was undisputed. Said an editorial in the Vancouver Province:
"When Centennial Year is a distant memory, it will be Expo and its wonders that Canadian children of today will talk about to their grandchildren."
The Ottawa Journal termed Expo "an unparalleled, magnificent success both for itself and for the whole country."
While the proponents of Québec separatism and associate statehood may have their reservations, External Affairs Minister Martin saw the fair as unifying influence.
"Expo has helped Canadians to appreciate their own strength and helped them to recognize the need of reconciling unity amidst diversity in Canada," he told The Canadian Press. "It has convinced all of us our future indeed is a great one which will require us to work together with more energy than ever."
For Eleanor Dansereau, an Edmonton housewife, Expo merely confirmed what she said she had known all along -- that Canadians could compete with any nation in the world. And Edmonton accountant Shirley Robb said the fair should end speculation that Canada will eventually be absorbed by the United States either politically or economically.
Thousand of Canadians felt compelled to write to the editor of a local newspaper about their experience.
Ernie F. Alliston, Vancouver: "I went to Montréal a biased English Canadian. I found our French Canadian brethren have earned the praise of our people everywhere for the sensational Expo site, buildings and efficiency of transportation service..."
Frank Johnston, Grand Falls, N.B., high school student: "It was worth three years of school."
J. Harvey Tolton, Brandon, Man.: "The man-made islands so beautifully landscaped...all kept so clean and tidy, with swift, sure transportation from one to the other fill one with amazement at such a tremendous accomplishment in so short a time."
David Fraser, Central Caribou, N.S.: "This is surely a place where man, ruler of the world, has combined all his talents to make this international exposition."
Rae Aston, Regina: "It was all I could do to keep from shouting from the rooftops: 'Canada has done something better than anybody else in the world and I'm proud to be a Canadian.'"
Now and then there was a sour note. Such as the Fort William Times-Journal reader who asked: "Since the federal government recognizes Quebec as French enclave within Canada's national boundaries, to whom should I address my application for visa to visit Expo?"
Bert Burgoyne, Saint John Telegraph-Journal: "People are a whole lot nicer at Expo than anywhere else we have ever been. I believe that our family was safer there from violence, hatred, crime, indifference, discrimination and any other human abuses that plague daily life in this world than we could be at any other place in the globe."
Dorothy Barker, Woodstock Sentinel-Press: "I felt a serene sense of having been privileged to participate in that most extravagant salute to Canada's century, Expo 67."
Jack Wasserman, Vancouver Sun: "I know it will sound silly but this fair does make you proud to be a Canadian. It is impossible, overwhelming, unbelievable and just plain Holy Jean Drapeau."
So did the cartoonists. A sample:
Len Norris depicted in the Vancouver Sun an American woman outside a British Columbia motel telling her husband: "He says you can't miss Expo...just turn east and continue until you notice eight-per-cent tax on meals and you can't understand what the blarsted road sign say."
- End of article. Copyright by the Canadian Press, October 21, 1967. All rights reserved.