Thursday December 29, 2016

Centennial to Canada 150

Listen to Full Episode 54:59

To close out the year on Rewind, we anticipate Canada's 150th birthday by looking back to the 100th.  
It was 1967, Canada's Centennial year, and there were celebrations across the country. It started on New Year's Eve and culminated in the summer-long world's fair called Expo 67. Its theme was Man and His World and there were 90 pavilions that showcased countries from around the world, as well as Canadian provinces.


CBC produced a variety of programs about Centennial: Canada 100, The Long Hundred, Expo This Week, Centennial Diary and Expodition, which painted a daily portrait of the people, events and news at Expo 67 in Montreal.  
The inaugural episode of Centennial Diary aired just after New Year in 1967. It reviewed not only the excitement in the country on New Year's Eve, but also some of the many hundreds of Centennial projects. It was presented by Alan Maitland.

Of all the international pavilions at Expo 67, by far the most popular was the Soviet one. Everyone wanted a glimpse of life in Russia. Exhibits in the Pavilion of the U.S.S.R. described Soviet economic, scientific and engineering achievements. Arts and culture were celebrated through movies, documentaries, fashion shows, and performances. Soviet space technology was also on display, its influence evident in the pavilion's design. One of its boosters was Joe Adamov. He was the host of Moscow Mailbag, an English-language radio program that aired on Voice of Russia. It answered listeners' questions about the Soviet Union. Adamov was known for his almost flawless unaccented English, but in fact Expo 67 was the first time Soviet authorities had allowed Adamov to travel abroad. Reporters were eager to see what he thought of the west.  

It wasn't all rosy though. As people visited the Indians of Canada pavilion, they encountered large posters with the words "Give us the right to manage our own affairs," and "the white man's school- an alien land for an Indian child."

The commissioner general of the pavilion, Tanahokate Delisle, explained why they'd decided to make a statement at Expo. "We went to all the bands across Canada and asked them what they'd like to see in the pavilion. The thing that kept coming up was anger at the government."

Music was a big part of Centennial year, music to inspire, uplift and entertain. During the six months Expo 67 was open, there were roughly 6,000 free concerts.There was also specially commissioned music, one of which won an Academy Award. It was the Ontario Pavilion's "A Place to Stand", written by Dolores Claman, who also wrote the iconic Hockey Night in Canada theme. 

CBC producers commissioned one of the country's great folk singers to compose a song for Centennial. Gordon Lightfoot's mandate was to write something to celebrate Canadian history. It took him three days. On January 1st, 1967, as a kick off to Centennial, Gordon Lightfoot sang, for the first time The Canadian Railroad Trilogy.  

To mark the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, the Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal has developed  Reimagining/Réinvestir Expo 67, a major exhibition of new works inspired by Expo 67 by a dozen contemporary Canadian artists. 

This program wraps up Rewind's run on CBC Radio One. After ten years of looking back at CBC Radio's rich archives, it's time to say goodbye. We'd like to thank the long time host of Rewind, Michael Enright for his hard work, his deft touch and the wisdom he brought to the program. Also, Keith Hart of CBC's Radio Archives, he has always helped us ably and cheerfully. He's one of the people in the background who really works hard to bring you the tape on the show. Sharon Farrell and Barb Dickie have put together the Rewind webpage for as long as we've had one. And Marieke Meyer, who's moving on to new and great adventures, says it's been a privilege to bring you so many archival moments from our shared history.