Monday, May 18, 2009

POSTCARD HISTORY LESSON - Expo67

Today we have two postcards from "Expo67" -
the World's Fair held in Montreal, Canada in 1967.


Expo67 is regarded by many as the most successful World's Fair of the Twentieth Century.
The expo brought in over fifty million visitors, and holds the one-day attendance record among all World's Fairs.


Like so many other World's Fairs, Expo67 had gondolas, but very little is recorded about them.
In fact, thus far, I've only got these two images to go on.

The first postcard shows a gondola cruising in front of some eye-catching buildings, which I am sure were meant to look futuristic by 1967 standards.


Because this expo took place in Montreal, everything is in both French and English.
The text on the back of our first postcard, in English, reads:
"GONDOLA RIDE ON ILE NOTRE-DAME
Passing along the way the beautiful pavilions of Monaco, Haiti and France."

The gondola appears to be a few feet shy of the traditional length, has lines similar to a Venetian gondola, and most notably - is motorized.
Taking a closer look, we see a gondolier who is either seated or kneeling. He seems to have his left hand on a drive handle, steering the gondola with an outboard motor.

The gondolas' overall shape is somewhat faithful to the original craft she was inspired by.
The stern deck is different: it follows the same cathedral-shape as the bow, and was obviously not meant to be stood on.

Seating is laid out in more of a tour-boat fashion.
I've seen some American gondolas fitted out similarly.


Perhaps the most noticeable difference
(aside from the presence of a motor, of course)
is the stem area. The tip of the prow rises to an exaggerated point, accentuated by a ferro blade similar to some I've seen in cartoons.


Looking at the second postcard, we see more "futuristic" buildings, we see a larger tour-boat, and in the lower right hand corner we see three of the same gondolas.
The English text on the back of the second postcard reads:
"GENERAL VIEW ON ILE NOTRE-DAME - showing colorful gondolas in the foreground and looking towards Theme Pavillion, "Man the Producer" and the Expo-Express Station with its brightly striped roofs."


All three boats have the same red bench seats, and on two of them, you can see the white shrouds of their outboard motors.


Sixty-two nations participated in Expo67.

Instead of tickets, fair goers were issued passports, which granted them admission to all pavillions and mass transit systems, and they could have their "passports" stamped in many of the Nation pavillions.

Expo67 only ran for six months as a World's Fair.
It was viewed by many Canadians as the greatest cultural achievement in the history of Canada.
After 1967, much of the grounds remained open during the summer months until 1981. During that period the attraction was renamed "Man and His World"

I was curious about the gondolas, so I did an image search and came upon one more image:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtophotos/3316750376/


Looking at the flickr image, it appears that the boat may have actually been fiberglass.
If that's the case, one or more of these gondolas might still exist, buried under debris,
in some barn or shed in Canada,
like a red Barchetta.


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