Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Expo 67: Not Just a Souvenir

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Expo 67: Not Just a Souvenir

Article excerpt

History Rhona Richman Kenneally and Johanne Sloan (eds), Expo 67: Not Just a Souvenir (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 280 pp. Cased. £48. ISBN 978-0-8020-9708-8. Paper. £20. ISBN 978-0-8020-9649-4.

This collection of essays represents the culmination of an original and fascinating project. It revisits the summer of 1967, when one of the last great world's fairs took place in Montreal. Expo 67 was - and is - a site of fantasy. Its pavilions were temporary and (in some cases) outlandish structures, built on man-made islands in the St Lawrence. Inside them, experiences of the future, of virtual reality, and of intensely modern glamour were available. Expo was also an ideological construct, and this book explores the different visions of nation, cosmopolitanism and progress that inspired the pavilions and exhibitions, and later determined the legacy of Expo.

Time is the most important dimension in the collection. Tom McDonagh signals this preoccupation in his chapter title: 'Obsolescence as Progress and Regression: Technology, Temporality, and Architecture at Expo 67', and several other essays reflect on related themes. The Expo site, as the editors note, was sold as the ideal city of the future, yet nostalgia informed many of the displays, while the persistent commemoration of Expo in later decades reveals the ongoing fascination which it holds for Canadians. Indeed, one of the book's many strengths is the way that it balances reconstruction of the experience of 1967 with analysis of Expo's evolving significance for Canada's cultural history and Montreal's urban development.

The introduction opens with an engaging account of a souvenir postcard sent from Expo, which was later sold in a flea market to a collector (one of the book's editors) and finished up as an exhibit in a prestigious gallery. …

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