Mod Design: Vintage Postcards of Expo 67

Forest Pavilion

Canada Forestry and Paper Pavilion

With the Rio Summer Olympics being just around the corner this prompted me to ponder the differences between the Olympics and the World Fairs.  While both are cultural showcases that bring together people of many nations to good-naturedly preen about their countries, World Fairs seem more ad hoc than the more structured, media spectacle of the Olympics.

Coinciding with Canada’s centennial in 1967, Montreal hosted what is considered to be one of the most successful World Fairs, which was the first to adopt the “Expo” moniker by which all subsequent World’s Fairs have been named.  As attested by these postcards, the various national pavilions at Expo 67 served as grand displays for then cutting-edge, very “mod” design and innovation.

Quebec Charm in Vintage Postcards

aaCartier Market

Jacques Cartier Market, Montreal, Early 1900s

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• Vintage Quebec:  Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

Wintery Inspiration

A. Philbert -- The Dream Country

“The Dream Country” by Andre Philbert

It’s definitely heavy coat and neck scarf weather around here, as it is in many places this time of year, so thoughts of winter cold are unavoidable.  This painting, “The Dream Country,” by Montreal artist, Andre Philbert, with its overwhelming shades of blue and houses set with jaunty rooflines perfectly captures the quiet chill of this time of year. More of Philbert’s deep-blue winter landscapes can be seen at the site for Toronto’s Liss Gallery.

“Having a swell time . . .”: Vintage Hospital Postcards

zGeneral-Hospital-Montreal

Postmarked 1913.  A cozy looking place.

Hospitals seem a peculiar and dreary subject for postcards.  But back in the day — before routine outpatient procedures and hospitals speedily freeing up beds — time in hospital (as patient or visitor) regularly spanned several days or longer, so penning a brief note to update absent friends or loved ones was probably not so odd.  And what better way to do it than with one of the colored cards conveniently available at the hospital!

zGeneral-Hospital-Saint-Joh

 Postmarked 1945. The note starts out: “Having a swell time.”  Love those roadsters!

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zOntario-Hospital

About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!

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zRoyal-Victoria-Hospital

About 1910.  Regal digs.  Notice horse and buggy to bottom left.

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zToronto-General-Hospital

 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

Old Maps and Their Hidden Stories

Nova Canadae 1693

Nova Canadae (1693)

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Good historical maps combine science and art to guide its users through its subject geography, with the best such maps igniting the imagination about the many backstories underpinning its cartographical offerings. Some of the oldest maps of North America include parts of Canada, which then featured place names such Terra Nova (now Newfoundland), Nouvelle France (most of what is now Eastern Canada), and Acadie (now Nova Scotia).  The following collection showcases some interesting old maps of Canada I’ve come across.

Related Posts on O’Canada:

1933 Quebec Tourist Road Map

Early 1900s Town Markets

These colored photo postcards from the early 1900s highlight the importance of town markets as hubs of community activity.  Lots of horses and wagons, ladies in long dresses and men in dark hats and not an automobile in sight.

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Postmarked October 6, 1910, Reads: “Dear Cousin, I have not received any letters from you, nor from Oscar. Hope you will write to the above address and by the time I return here, there will be many letters.  Kind Love, Edgar”

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wMarket,-Brockville,-Ont.

No postmark, but likely around 1910; No note

wBonsecours-Market,-Montrea

Postmarked September 8, 1909; No note

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Notre-Dame Basilica de Montreal

Notre Dame Basillica Montreal_edited-1

Quebec Month / Installment 15

Even to a casual observer of Quebec culture, the predominance of the Catholic church, at least historically, in the province is evident in many ways, not the least of which is the prominence in many towns of a centrally located Catholic church and the widespread naming of streets and other places for saints.  The Notre-Dame Basilica de Montreal, an impressive gothic structure situated in the Vieux-Montreal area of that city, is perhaps the crown jewel of all these.  My lovely wife took these two images of the intricately ornate interior of the Basilica.

notre dame basillica 3

Closeup on Architectural Detail Around Montreal

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Quebec Month / Installment 14

Pediments, bas relief sculptures, window moldings, fanciful brickworks, roof fixtures and decorative doors are among the many intricate architectural details that vie for our attention as we walk down a street and absorb all that is before us.  Here are some pics of such adornments from a recent trip to Montreal.

Wall Art a la Montreal

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Jazz Saints

Quebec Month / Installment 11

Not long ago I posted some pics I took of graffiti in Montreal.  Painted wall art is another form of creative expression that is different from graffiti, but sometimes in only subtle ways.  I’m sure someone has worked out the technical distinction between such things, but however these art forms are categorized, Montreal is a rich showcase for a great deal of both (as well as other street art variants — such as kinetic art, elaborate light shows and light sculptures — that I could not readily capture).

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Painted Cargo Container

Cardboard Totem Pole Wall Art

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Quebec Month / Installment 7

I have some other Montreal wall art still to share, but, at the moment, I’ve singled out the above piece because of the unusual medium — painted cardboard — used by its creator.  By the time I came upon this contemporary take on a traditional Pacific Northwest totem pole, the work had seen better days but it still held up quite well.  The brightly colored eagle, beaver and cow (a modern update for a totem pole!)  are set off nicely by the intricate carvings in the corrugated cardboard.

Montreal’s Vibrant Walls of Graffiti

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Quebec Month / Installment 5

Wow!  Montreal has a lot of amazingly cool graffiti — and not just the quickly dashed out monochromatic tag variety.  In that city, wielders of spray paint have taken the graffiti form to a more vibrant, artistic level that brightens rather than blightens.  Here are some of these artfully done works that caught my eye as I recently roamed the city’s streets.

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[Click on Image to Enlarge]

Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

So-called Nuit Blanche arts festivals are held in many cities throughout the world, including in Montreal and Toronto.  Nuit Blanche, translates to “white night” and, more loosely, as “sleepless night” and has been typically associated with winter festivals taking place at night.  This year, Montreal held its Nuit Blanche in February, while Toronto held off until just a few days ago, with its own nighttime arts festival kicking off for twelve hours starting around twilight on October 2.   While I arrived in Toronto for a business trip a day too late to enjoy this first hand, the 2010 event marked the fifth anniversary for this all-nighter out on the town in Toronto.  An unsuspecting visitor to the city that evening might very well have observed the wondrous and grand spectacle of this arts fete and concluded that Torontonians had gone blissfully mad.

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