MACLEAN'S REVIEWS

Q: Where’s the best place to see Canada in '70? A: Osaka

November 1 1968
MACLEAN'S REVIEWS

Q: Where’s the best place to see Canada in '70? A: Osaka

November 1 1968

Q: Where’s the best place to see Canada in '70? A: Osaka

BECAUSE HER OWN Expo was a triumph, Canada wants to stand out at Osaka’s Expo 70. She probably will. With only a little more enthusiasm than accuracy, James Ramsay of Ontario’s Department of Trade & Development predicts: “Every time a Japanese turns a corner he’ll see a Canadian pavilion.” Four governments — Canada, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia — are all showing off at Osaka on budgets totaling $20 million.

Through architecture, films, exhibits and live performances, they’ll all try to correct a Japanese opinion, revealed

by survey, that Canadians are “just barbarians, like the rest of the world.” Apparently most Japanese don’t even know whether Canada is north or south of the United States.

Here’s how Canadian plans are shaping up:

Films:

Osaka will boast even larger screens, odder shapes and more multiplied images than Montreal had. The Canadian pavilion will show films on a 47by-25-foot triangular screen.

B.C. movies will be shown on a skinny 45-by-9 foot screen. Quebec

plans only conventional uses of film.

Ontario’s $650,000 ace-in-the-hole is another production by Christopher Chapman, whose A Place to Stand won plaudits at Expo 67 and an Academy Award in Hollywood. His Osaka film will use the same multipleimage techniques, but this time he has a 90-by-35-foot screen to fill, plus the time and money to shoot much of his movie in 70 mm. Determined that his production will speak directly to the Japanese, Chapman is trying to respond to Japanese sensitivities in rhythm, color, movement and subtle design. “The multi-dynamic screen has a language all its own,” he says. His film will emphasize the people of Ontario, rather than the things shown in A Place to Stand.

Architecture:

The federal pavilion will have huge walls of sloping mirrors, 250 feet long and 70 feet high and, according to architects Erickson/Massey of Vancouver, changing reflections on the walls will represent “the highlights of the Arctic ice, the mass of mountains, vast prairie sky or the glitter of Canadian waters . . . kinetic display of mood and change.” This should be an interesting pavilion: it was chosen from a million dollars’ worth of entries submitted by 208 architects.

First to sign for a site, Canada chose a commanding location from where tall, gaily colored op-art spinners will

reflect light and be visible from most of the grounds.

Of the provinces, Ontario is farthest ahead in its planning. Its $800,000 pavilion is a heavy prosaic steel structure decorated in Tory blue and white. Main physical features: an 800-seat theatre with a long exhibit area attached.

British Columbia’s building (“world’s tallest wooden structure — as high as Niagara Falls!”) will be sculptured from whole spruce trees rising in a curve to a 160-foot tower, “symbolic of the richly timbered mountain slopes of BC.” The entire 19,250-square-foot site — even the part beneath the building — will be covered by a lake, and there’ll be a waterfall, too.

Quebec won’t say until November how it plans to spend its $3-million budget. However, architect Jacques De Blois of Quebec City has been asked to produce a building which is “unconventional . . . new . . . representative of the most modern Quebec architecture.” It will have a restaurant, of course.

Performances:

The federal pavilion will spend a million dollars to provide on-site and off-site performances by rock and folk singers, opera stars, country-and-western musicians, and others. BC may stage log-rolling contests between Canadian and Japanese teams. Quebec will likely offer live performances.

General Exhibits:

Canada’s 20,000-square-foot exhibit area will invite 3,000 people an hour to make a voyage to discover the Canadian land and people. The $3million exhibits budget provides multimedia and offbeat three-dimensional presentations. In one, mannikins are “brought to life” by means of film projection. A computerized puzzle board will answer visitors’ questions about everything imaginable.

A simulated mine and other environments in the BC pavilion will be enlivened with enough audio and lighting effects to make British Columbians feel more at home in Japan than Japanese have sometimes felt in BC.

Visitors heading for Chapman’s film at the Ontario pavilion will shuffle through a tunnel-like area where more than 3,000 still photos ranging in size from 24 inches to 24 feet will be flashed, zoomed and faded in a carefully programmed presentation along a 116-foot screen. Mirrored subdividers will make the multi-images disappear into infinity. The device that feeds the program will be a 116-foot projection tube said to offer the visual versatility of 380 separate projectors. Pavilion people call this variously a “transportable human environment simulator” and a “modular multi-system information storage, retrieval and display vehicle.” One of its tricks is that images and sounds can be sent skidding along the entire screen. “Like indigestion,” quoted its designer thoughtfully. DEAN WALKER