Global Village Playground at Expo 67

Forty-five years ago this playground made quite a splash at Expo 67, the 20th century’s most successful World Fair. For a few weeks during Canada’s 100th birthday festivities, Montreal’s Expo was the cultural crossroads of the world. In that global village mashup, that summer of celebration and exuberance, the Canadian pavilion put children front and centre.

From CCA’s Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Archive

The playground at the Canadian pavilion was a must stop for the 10 and under set. By North American standards it was cutting edge, ahead of its time, as can be seen in this short excerpt from a National Film Board of Canada documentary.

Landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander had a great stage to share her playground design ideas with an international audience and the 30,000 appreciative kids who played there over the course of the summer.

The playground especially designed for Expo ’67, in conjunction with the Children’s Creative Centre, should provide some new ideas for crowded urban communities. Everywhere in cities there are areas that could be made into “vest-pocket parks”, with mounds, ravines, treehouses, streams for wading, and places for building.

See Oberlander’s entire Space for Creative Play text and a letter to the editor of Maclean’s magazine about the playground here.

From CCA’s Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Archive

Cornelia Oberlander is now a doyenne of the landscape architect circle. I have seen her referred to as the Queen of Green. The ideas she put in play at Expo 67 are increasingly in vogue. A case in point is the burgeoning interest in natural playscapes.

From CCA’s Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Archive

Cornelia, thanks for the Expo 67 gift that keeps on giving. It’s as relevant and exciting today as it was forty-five years ago.

Information on the Canadian Centre for Architecture’s (CCA) Cornelia Hahn Oberlander holdings is available here.

More on Expo 67 here and here.

7 responses to “Global Village Playground at Expo 67

  1. Pingback: Embracing Adventure in 1970s Pointe-St-Charles, Montréal | PlayGroundology

  2. Thanks for the information. Have fun in Calgary, sorry Elisabeth and I can’t be there. My regards to all our friends in play who are able to come.


    • Hi Donne, I’m a little late getting back to you. I hope you are well. I never made it to Calgary either – the conference was sold out. An unfortunate thing for me but a great thing for play to have those 100s of souls from around the world converging in one place to talk, do and be ‘play’. Another time perhaps – maybe in India the next time it rolls around. I love your photos from the 60s, the few I’ve seen. Would you ever consider allowing prints to be made for an exhibition in Canada? Our nights are getting darker earlier now. Soon the winter white will fall and we will lace one our skates. Always a pleasure to hear from you. Cheers from Nova Scotia…


  3. Pingback: Motherhood as an artist - Cult MTL

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