Hostesses’ refuse


I haven’t been getting particularly lucky with my finds lately. However, a recycling bin in a nice part of town helped buck that trend. Inside was my best ever Expo 67 related haul. When I opened the bin I spotted a big stack of original 10×8″ photographs, many of which don’t look to be available anywhere on the internet.

The person who did the tossing apparently worked for Expo back in the day. It took me about a day to scan it all, and another day and a bit to get this post done. I’m sure passionate Montreal and Expo fans will really dig it, but if you’re not never fear – I’ll post more “normal” garbage soon!


Several of the photos were cool aerial views that captured the construction of the sites. This shot, which features a great backdrop of downtown Montreal might be my favourite of the bunch. In the foreground is Île Sainte-Hélène, one of the main locations for the fair. The island was greatly enlarged using fill dug out from the construction of the new subway system.


Many of the photos came with a short typewritten explanatory text. I was often unsure which text matched which photo, so I decided to just share most of the texts all together later on. It could be fun for some Expo fanatic to try to match the explanation to the photograph! Regardless, this one definitely matched the photo above.


This photo was definitely taken before the one below. The island is pretty bare here …


… but you can see buildings coming up in this one. Just a reminder, you can click on these photos and zoom in for a much better view!


These two show the emergence of the Cité du Havre buildings, including the Autostade (you can see it cut off on the left side near the bottom – it barely lasted 10 years before being demolished) and Habitat 67 (at the top of the peninsula). The latter is a Montreal landmark, and was a cool concept intended to revolutionize affordable housing.


habitat 67

For reference, this is Habitat 67 as it appeared in 2006. (Photo: Nora Vass, taken from Wikipedia).


A few photos featured actual people. This one might be the coolest because it features a Montreal sports legend (standing at right) and I couldn’t find another like it on the internet. I’ll let you guess who it is, and anyone who doesn’t know can check the comments for a quick answer. The guy at the left might be famous too for all I know – if you recognize him let us know! The woman in the centre is a Expo hostess wearing the classic uniform.


Another two featured women modelling outfits used at the British pavilion.



The majority of the photos though featured artist conceptions and models of pavilions and other Expo-related things. Some shots are better or cooler than others. I’ll share my favourite five shots in large format, and the rest (some of which are still very neat) in gallery format.

Among my favourites is the gyrotron; …


… the Ontario pavilion;


… the aforementioned Habitat 67;


La Ronde (an amusement park);


… and Katimavik (Canadian pavilion). Here’s a bunch more. I’d share them all large format, but there’s so many that it would make this blog post exceedingly long!


There were duplicates of some photos, including three different copies of this Autostade model.


This photo of a model Expo Express train car is pretty cool …


… but this one might be even cooler. For whatever reason the artist decided to depict the background city like something you’d see on the cover of a cheesy 1960s sci-fi novel. I guess they wanted to make it look like something from the future, but it’s quite a break from the realistic portrayals in the other shots.



I otherwise saved some official Expo brochures and flyers, including a few printed in German …


… and some documents (press releases?) written in German and Spanish that appear to describe Expo.


The coolest document though was probably this Hostesses’ Handbook. It seems to be a fairly uncommon piece as I couldn’t find any others for sale on the internet, eBay included. I didn’t catalogue all the pages, but I got shots of a fair number which you can see below. For the gallery view, you have to scroll down and click “view full size” to get a zoomable version of the photo.

Phew! That was a lot of work but I figured it was worth the time. There’s a lot of neat stuff here, and it seems that many of these pieces are hard if not impossible to find elsewhere.

Below are the extra typewritten texts that went along with the photos, if anyone wants to try to match them!

I’ll have another post, likely the one featuring my recent sales up in the next couple of days.

22 thoughts on “Hostesses’ refuse”

  1. This is an amazing find. I am wondering if the CCA would be interested in these…or the City of Montreal. These should be returned to the public domain–they are history!

    1. Maybe they would. Given my financial situation though (making passable money, but drowning in student loan debt) it makes donating things very hard. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them yet, but they might end on eBay going to the highest bidder.

  2. ugh… why would someone ever throw this away….

    So great that you found and scanned it.

    I hate that this means that 99% of the photographs *won’t* be found before someone trashes them 🙁

    1. Yup, that’s the sad reality. I do a pretty good job, but can only cover maybe 10% of one city. That’s why I also hope to encourage other people do try picking!

  3. Takes me back. I hadn’t thought of the word “gyrotron” …” since I attended the Fair back in 1967.

    It’s great that you were in the right place at the right time to salvage this important collection.

    1. Yup. So much luck involved in this job. Of course, you have to be good (or at least determined) to be lucky sometimes

  4. I agree this wonderful archive merits being in the public domain. Maybe the McCord Museum mght be interested in acquiring them.

  5. Hello, I’m the head of exhibitions and collections at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal. We are actually planning an exhbition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Expo 67. We would be very interested in borrowing this material for this project. If by any chance you would be interested to donating it to a public museum, we would also be very interested too. Thank you for considering this proposition

    1. I might be interested. It depends what I end up doing with them. I wouldn’t mind lending them out, but at the same time the 50th anniversary is about two years for now and I might want to sell them (my preference, considering that I have tonnes of student loan debt to pay off before I’m fiscally well-off!) before then. Regardless, send me a Facebook message or an email to if you want to discuss it further.

    2. Does your museum have any donors that would be willing to buy the collection from Martin and donate them to the museum?

  6. That futuristic rendition might actually represent Expo ’67.

    The Expo Express was a fast way of getting people kind of downtown.
    It ran along Cite du Havre, and I think that stretch would show Expo
    behind. It looks like the US pavilion, the geodesic dome, is to the left
    of that “future city”.

    I think the pavilion with the tree coming out of the roof is the BC pavilion,
    but I’m not sure. It maybe was a lumber industry pavilion.

    The Gyratron morphed into something else at some point. The scariest
    part was the slow drop, where suddenly nothing was below you
    except a drop. But I read recently that the whole thing had been
    taken down. I haven’t been in years.

    I wish I could find my passport, probably put somewhere safe. The
    Expo ’67 guidebook appeared at some point, then got buried again.

    The New York World’s Fair was 1964 and 1965, and last year
    someone had scanned that guidebook and put it online, but
    I didn’t find the Expo ’67 guidebook online.


    1. You might be right about it being Expo 67. I don’t remember some of those buildings though (especially the curvy ones) or any mention of powerful spotlights.

  7. What an amazing collection. There is a facebook group of Expo 67 fans. It may be a good resource to determine value and/or sell.

  8. the gentleman on the right in the photograph is the Late Elmer Lach , Montréal Canadien – Mr. Lach passed away earlier this year I believe. This is a marvellous collection!

      1. I still have my passport & (I think) the guidebook ….. someone else above mentioned the McCord – perhaps you could email them a link to your blog?

  9. incredible find! I worked there in ’67 and I took photos of some places shown here but not as many. Why would someone throw these out

  10. The person,in question, standing next to the hostess, sure looks like Elmer Lach,once a Montreal Hab player. What say you ?
    Fascinating photos !

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