On a Mission

New documentary reveals untold story of Expo 67. 

July 12, 2017

Today it’s remembered as the greatest world’s fair ever. But Expo 67’s success was never a sure thing. Now, a new documentary is recounting the dramatic story behind Expo 67.

Expo 67 Mission Impossible was created by Productions de la Ruelle, a Quebec film company whose past films include Disunited States of Canada, a look at the founding of Canada through the lens of Western Canadian separatists, and Time Bombs, about Canada and the Cold War.

Expo 67 Mission Impossible combines exclusive interviews, never-before-seen photos, and film of the event to explore the enduring legacy of Expo 67.

A companion website, Expo-67.ca, features access to multimedia educational content. Canada’s History spoke recently with Eric Ruel, executive vice-president of Productions de la Ruelle, about the new film.

Why do a documentary about Expo 67?

With Expo 67 Mission Impossible, our aim is to surprise those who know Expo, those who think they know Expo, and those who don’t know anything about Expo at all, with a completely different side of the story. From the first minute to the last, this film is a real-life thriller, after which everyone will understand how Expo 67 came to be something of a myth, as it has in so many ways shaped today’s society.

How did you obtain the wealth of material for the film?

Expo 67 Mission Impossible was made possible by a collaboration between Productions de la Ruelle and Library and Archives Canada. This partnership has allowed us to see the enormous amount of work that goes into preserving the materials that we consider to be the backbone of this country. Thousands of never-before-seen archival fragments have been brought to light for the first time, including brand new images from beautiful 35-mm films and high-resolution colour photographs. The professionalism and spirit of Library and Archives Canada is deeply cherished among our team.

What did Expo 67 mean to Canadians?

Expo 67 created a deep sense of pride and belonging for organizers and visitors alike, as it was an opportunity to put differences aside in pure celebration of mankind, culture, art, and innovation. It also showcased the extent to which Canadians are capable of groundbreaking accomplishments.

Why do you think Expo was so popular?

At a time when the Internet didn’t exist in mainstream society, world’s fairs were the ultimate opportunity to discover what the rest of the world had to offer. Expo 67 Mission Impossible demonstrates how Expo defied all expectations, showed the best of mankind, and broke all the world records as a result of teamwork, skill, and determination. It set the bar incredibly high for everything that was to follow. We really tried, with this documentary film, to get to the heart of this gigantic success.

This article originally appeared in the June-July 2017 issue of Canada’s History magazine. 

Governor General's History Awards Winner Eric Ruel and Guylaine Maroist received a Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media (the Pierre Berton Award) in 2011 for their project J’ai la mémoire qui tourne.

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