Thursday, September 2, 2010

Savoir Faire in Montreal

Savoir Faire is off to Montreal for the weekend for some much needed R & R. I am looking forward to it immensely for a number of reasons; one of them being that Montreal has a certain savoir faire that sets it apart from other Canadian cities.

Back in 1967 Montreal being the host of Expo 67 had all the savoir faire in the world. Originally awarded to the Soviet Union to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, they pulled out for reasons unknown. After much political backbiting within Canada, Montreal was the given the right to showcase the world’s best. This was also Canada’s main celebration during its centennial year.

Expo 67’s theme was “Man and his World” based on the 1939 book entitled Terre des Hommes by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Expo featured 90 pavilions representing Man and His World themes, from nations, corporations, and industries including the U.S. pavilion, a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. Expo 67 also featured the Habitat 67 housing complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie, which is still occupied.

Australia was duly represented with a pavilion set on steel and concrete pillars, and sloping walls of glass and aluminum to aid natural lighting.

Although not the most architecturally significant on the exterior at Expo it was a tour de force on the inside.

Visitors viewed large colour transparencies showing life in Australia mounted in a futuristic sculptural display as they proceeded by spiral ramp to view the exhibits.

In the main exhibit hall incredibly sculptural large curved wooden beams rose through the floor to the ceiling following the lines of the innovative air conditioning ducts which were funnels set into the ceiling. The whole are had off-white shag pile carpeting which swept from the floor up the walls, between the beams and to the ceiling.

This was Australia’s coming of age in the pop decade of the1960’s in design and style with the whole concept affectionately being nicknamed “Pop Goes Australia”

Specially designed seating with built in headphones told the story of Australia. Black Chairs for English and orange for French.

One could be forgiven for thinking that you were in some swish airport terminal such as Saarinen’s TWA terminal at JFK, however on a warmer scale with the wood and the carpeting.

21 hostesses under the supervision of a former Miss Australia met visitors to the Australian pavilion. Their uniforms consisted of fashionably short A-line sleeveless skimmers of Australian wool gabardine, with matching hip-length double-breasted jackets. Most of these young hostesses came from rural areas and had never been out of Australia so this was the trip of a lifetime, with their heads full of pride and glamour.

Of course with most of Expo’s buildings this was dismantled, however when visiting this weekend I am going to be thinking of when the world came to Montreal for some savoir faire and some young Australians represented their county with pride and savoir faire!


  1. Great post!
    "Expo 67 also featured the Habitat 67 housing complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie, which is still occupied."
    I should hope that these housing units are still occupied...they were the ultimate of cool back in the late 60's....not that I'm old enough to remember them or anything...
    Have fun on your trip!

  2. I hope this finds you doing well. I've had a rough week. I got laid off on Tuesday. Now I've got to try to find a job in such a bad economy. Wish me luck. Thanks. Take care. Have a great upcoming weekend.

  3. Amazing post David!
    I'm in love with the chairs~


  4. Enjoy the time to rest David! Great post - love how you wrote it and presented it.

  5. love those 70's pics ! looks like a totally different world :)

    enjoy your stay there !! :)

  6. brilliant post David! hope you have a sensational weekend.

  7. interesting! I always learn something new from you. Have a great weekend. I'm actually working this weekend!

  8. I can remember going to Expo 67 as a child. It was a big deal for everyone. A lot of important VIPs attended, like Marlene Dietrich and Princess Grace. The lineups to get into pavilions were extremely long. I recall the Chatelaine model home which had some furniture that my parents had, and I still have a magazine that featured it.

    I am completely unfamiliar with the Australian pavilion and found it beautiful. There is a lot of interesting information and photos on the Internet about Habitat, and they are really worth looking into.

    Expo 67 was incredible; the mood was joyous and optimistic. It was very successful, and it was as if we finally had our own sense of identity. To look at these photos makes me very emotional. I am reminded of the special Expo song that everyone sang and was heard constantly:

    The French pavilion had a exhibition of special edition, deluxe presentation perfumes you would have liked. I admire the first image you selected…the cool blonde with the Expo 67 passport…isn’t that style of bold art so much more unique than a photograph? I’m thinking of your references to Peynet, Vertes, and Gruau.

    You are correct, Montreal has a charm and élan that no other Canadian city has. I envy you, I intended to go this summer. I haven’t been to Montreal since the YSL Exhibition at the Musée des beaux-arts. Enjoy the food…it is consistently good as Toronto’s is mediocre.

  9. I'm an Aussie stuck I'm the UK so it always feels like a warm hug when I see Aussies doing good! Love the pics

  10. We are planning a trip this thanksgiving to Montreal. I am looking forward to seeing it for the first time.
    Have a lovely and relaxing time.

  11. MY ICON IS GONE!! Do you have an idea why? I mean on every blog I follow you cant see my follower-pic. I changed it and deleted the old one and now I'm invisible everywhere and even not linked on most blogs...I still follow you but you can't see me on your Followers-list. HELP!

  12. Over the last few days I was considering this post and the mood and feeling of the mid 1960s. I wondered if in those pre-politically correct times if there was much, if any representation of Australian aboriginal culture or contributions in the Expo 67 Australia pavilion.

    All of the hostesses look very Anglo Saxon, but of course those were the times. Funny how nowadays we would expect increasingly greater representation of native peoples (just as we do in Canada now), and at the time, it was too often overlooked. In spite of many negative changes in our world, I feel this is one area in which we have made significant progress.

  13. Many thanks all for your comments.

    Belle, yes it is still there and looking a little worse for wear. From a distance it looked apalling, I hope there is some sort of preservation order in place.

    keith, so sorry to hear your news. Hope that things get a littel better.

    Mr SWF- What a great comment. Very nostalgic for you. Give me some time to reply to your comment in more deatail as to what it deserves.

    Cote, closer to your trip I will give you some suggestions.

    Welcome Home, many thanks for dropping by. Have yet to check you out.


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