CRITICS AND DOUBTING Thomases in Montreal are at it again. They just don’t believe Mayor Drapeau can keep the spirit of Expo 67 alive. Man and His World, or Terre des Hommes, as the Son of Expo is called, opens May 17, and Drapeau himself predicts 30 million people will visit it. And around Montreal these days, the smart money just won’t bet against Jean Drapeau.
The Expo Express may be pulled off (but don’t bet on it). Many pavilions will be changed, some are already gone, Montreal’s vicious winter has taken its toll of the temporary buildings, and the mayor will have a much smaller and less experienced staff than Expo had — but these are hardly more than quibbles. Here’s what he has going for him that promises to make Terre des Hommes a brilliant showplace:
□ THE BACKING of most Montrealers. Although many may wonder if Drapeau can pull it off, most wholly support the concept of a permanent exhibition in their city. By mid-February, Drapeau was able to boast an advance sale to agents of $1 million worth of $20 visas for the ’68 season, and even if TDH turned out to be nothing more than a summer retreat for Montrealers — which it won’t be — Mayor Drapeau would feel justified.
□ THE ACCRUED GOODWILL of Expo 67. The mayor shuns comparisons, saying TDH is a different show — but, still, he’s an instinctive showman, and he doesn’t argue when people refer to “Expo Two,” “Monex” (Montreal Expo), or “Expo 68.” Except the name itself, most of the trappings of Expo 67 will survive — even the popular Expo symbol of arms locked in brotherhood, symbolizing the same theme (Man and His World) as Expo.
□ EXPO’S PHYSICAL ASSETS. With onlytwo pavilions — Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia — definitely dismantled (Joey Smallwood bought them for Newfoundland), the feeling of Tomorrowland will be the same. Forty national and fifteen private or government pavilions will have either all or part of last year’s exhibits, or a totally new show. Most of the spectacular film attractions, such as Labyrinth and the Telephone Pavilion, will likely be back, and the theme pavilions will have about the same contents. La
Ronde amusement area, now run by the city, will also be the same, except for the Gyrotron, which flopped and will be revised to make it more of a thrill.
□ SOME SMART IDEAS for new exhibits. The city of Montreal must fill 22 pavilions with new exhibits of its own choosing, and they must attract people who saw all of Expo 67. The mayor has suggested several: a Man and Humor exhibit in the former Swiss pavilion, to be put together by Montreal cartoonist and artist Robert La Palme, which will have maquettes of great humorists through history and could be the setting for the annual International Cartoonists’ Salon; an arboretum and aviary in the transparent American dome (which prompted a Montreal Star editorialist to ask wryly, “What could be nicer for a nation which reduces great debates about war and peace to hawks and doves, and even chickens?”); a repository of Expo 67 memorabilia in the Canadian pavilion; possibly an automobile museum, or a musical retrospect in the British pavilion, which won’t be given to Drapeau officially until he unveils definite plans for it; and at the Expo art gallery, now being run by Quebec’s cultural affairs department (as is Expo theatre), probably a changing exhibition of contemporary art.
Against all these plusses, Montreal’s mayor must face a few cool hard negatives, which skeptics say could make TDH something less than a boxoffice smash:
□ LIMITED MANPOWER and limited budget. The city’s real-estate department, which will run TDH, hasn’t felt any great compulsion to hire Expo’s top brains. As Drapeau says, “We have 15,000 city of Montreal employees we can use.” Only a few Expo staffers have been hired — among them, former deputy commissionergeneral Robert Shaw, who has become a technical advisor. Others have turned down offers because salaries generally arc at least one third lower than at Expo. One former Expo office manager said he was insulted by Montreal’s offer. “1 made more during the five months of Expo than I’d earn in a whole year for the city. In fact, an Expo super-secretary was paid more than TDH pavilion managers, who get only $6,500 and have to work 24 hours a day and sweep the floors for that.”
□ A SHORTAGE OF TIME. With less than three months to go, there seems to be a lot of dreaming and talking, but not enough action. The mayor has initiated weekly press conferences to keep the press and public informed, but there are taboo areas of questioning. The Star's Charles Lazarus wrote that the mood in the council chamber, filled with Drapeau’s civic party members, reminded him of Adam Clayton PowelLs “Keep the faith, baby.”
□ EXPO EXPRESS possibly out of service. Skeptics say buses, with their diesel fuel and choking gases, will never be accepted as a substitute for the swift, silvery trains. (But there’s speculation that Drapeau is playing a cool poker game to get possession of the eight Expo Express trains, which are up for sale by tender.) Secondary transportation, including the popular Minirail, will be unchanged, although Drapeau thinks the hovercraft may be too noisy.
□ LACK OF PROMOTION. With only three months before opening day,
TDH didn’t have a public-relations staff, and the mayor announced he didn’t plan to hire one. Man and His World has received little publicity outside Montreal. Few Americans realize it exists, and there are misconceptions about what it is. An Associated Press report from Taipei announced that the Chinese National Government would participate in Montreal’s “International Trade Fair.”
But none of these problems seem insurmountable, and even the mayor’s harshest critics are no longer so brash as to suggest that Jean Drapeau could ever be responsible for an out-and-out failure. DON BELL
A remarkable hunt for talent —in prison
IF PRISON IS HELL, nobody found it more so than the slender bank robber serving 10 years at the mediumsecurity Leclerc Institute section of St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary outside Montreal. A misfit in a society of misfits, he cut himself off from other inmates, mooned over his confinement and every Christmas, almost as a ritual, tried to slash his wrists. But beneath the surface was a literary talent that needed a catalyst to draw it out.
That catalyst came along in the person of Mrs. Kay Lines, an ebullient blonde artist and industrial designer from Westmount. As founder of the Creative Awards Association, a group that aims to tap the latent creative talents of convicts, she has become the darling of Leclerc. During one of her visits, this particular prison recluse, stricken with curiosity, came out of his cell to show her an armful of manuscripts. Since then, though still confined, he has, with her encouragement, rejoined the human race — writing stories with zealous devotion and attending prison courses in literature and painting.
Whether he will write a great Canadian novel hardly matters. As Mrs. Lines says, “It shows that a convict isn’t an animal simply to be locked up and forgotten by society until his time is served. If he is ever to return to the world, and lead a useful life, it’s important that someone cares about him.”
Mrs. Lines explains the philosophy of Creative Awards in the form of a simple syllogism: A. Non-conforming people are usually creative. B. Criminals are non-conforming. C. Therefore, criminals may be creative. In an effort to unearth these talents, Mrs. Lines and MP Gerard Pelletier, a director of the group, met with regional prison directors last year and told them of their plan to sponsor a program of awards and competitions to stimulate creative activity in Canadian prisons. They were permitted to start the program on a small scale at
Leclerc Institute, and have since received permission to take the program into another prison, at Cowansville, 50 miles southeast of Montreal.
What has happened at Leclerc is beyond all expectations. A whole new mood and outlook has come over the prisoners. Men whose only previous pastime was sloth have begun to write, paint, act, sculpt, and play musical instruments. The program, since it started last April, has been so successful that it may spur Canadian prison authorities, faced with one of the highest recividism rates in the world, to do some soul-searching on the whole question of prison therapy — or, rather, the lack of it. Inmates at Leclerc, instead of wondering what they can take from society, are thinking in terms of contributing to it, and in a Canadian prison, this is real progress.
Hardened bank robbers, rapists, arsonists and FLQ terrorists are engaged in creative projects they find challenging. The prison, in fact, seems like a Lincoln Centre of the Arts for men in grey denims. Spillane is out; Sartre is in. As one inmate put it, “This must be the swingingest prison in the world. Instead of learning about crime, I’ll graduate as an egghead.”
Volunteer instructors give classes in a variety of subjects such as creative writing, painting and drawing, music, general semantics, great books, and theatre. Also, as an inducement to use their talents, inmates may compete for cash awards of up to $100 in various categories with the money credited to their accounts to help them on their release.
Guards are amazed at the change that has come over the prison. Pierre Goulem, classification officer and liaison between the prison and Creative Awards, says the prisoners must realize that their tutors are artists “who believe in what they are doing and want to share it with someone, without being paternalistic about it.” But it took a while to gain this trust. “When we first came in,” recalls Mrs. Lines, “they all looked at us skeptically as though we were a group of dogooders ready to reform them. But after a few weeks a rapport developed.
I suppose they realize as artists we don’t represent the establishment. Now I feel as safe mingling with the inmates as I do at a tea party.”
To help reduce the boredom of prison life, Mrs. Lines organized special entertainments, and found she had a captive audience, in both senses of the word. When poet Irving Layton went to the prison to read from his collected poems, he communicated so well that he was offered the sinecure of poet-in-residence. Instant Theatre performed the play Cobbler, Stick to Thy Last and despite a Nova Scotian patois that confused French-Canadian inmates, the response was so gratifying that Mary Morter, who runs the theatre, was moved to tears. At Christmas, any inkling that this was a prison was lost when the Montreal artistic community turned up en masse for a coffee party that couldn’t have heen better if Truman Capote himself had been host.
“It’s amazing the way they can suddenly relate,” says Judy Allison, who helps her husband Gordon give the general semantics course. “Their attitude used to be ‘take care of number one and never mind the guy next door.’ Few of the convicts were on a first-name basis with the guards, or with each other for that matter. But now a whole new feeling of trust and confidence has developed. Curiously, the change is just as profound in the guards as in the prisoners.”
Many inmates have experienced a growth of self-esteem to the point of making crime, as a way of life, unthinkable. The inmate, as a human being, suddenly sees that he is actually needed by society. Although penal hawks might say that a man should get his just desserts for the crime he committed, there’s a liberal new attitude that mere punishment harms both the convict and the community.
“A trapped man should be given a chance of getting out of his trap,” says novelist Hugh MacLennan, who is a director of the group. “I don’t care what sociologists say — this is a personal and humanitarian thing. If it helps rehabilitate only a dozen men, that’s enough for me.”
More than a dozen men have been helped so far. Most are still serving their sentence; a few have been let out. One inmate who was released after serving seven years of a 25-year sentence for bank robbery is now working as a personnel officer in a textile factory, contributing articles on prison reform to newspapers, writing a novel, and trying to organize a creative workshop where ex-convicts may be employed as soon as they leave prison to tide them over the difficult first months of freedom. Another released convict is taking a course in ceramics and designing a stained glass window for the chapel; a third is busy translating articles and stories sent to him from behind the wall. None has shown any signs of wanting to resume a career in crime.
As Dr. Raymond Boyer of McGill’s Forensic Clinic says, “It’s not a question of rehabilitating prisoners. Rather, it’s a question of habilitating them. Many simply never had a chance in the first place.” DON BELL
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