Expo 67: A Celebration of Canadian Beer

brewers pavilion

Expo 67: A Celebration of Canadian Beer

It may be hard to believe, but 50 years ago, Expo 67, offered Canadians a rare opportunity to taste – for the first time – a diverse world of beer styles from across Canada and around the world. What a stark contrast with the wide selection of choice available to today’s consumer – over 7000 brands in Canada. As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the impact of Expo 67.  

Held during Canada’s centennial year, Expo 67 played a role in encouraging Canadians to consider their country as multicultural, composed of a diversity of people, cultures, and ideas, all of which could co-exist in harmony. Hosted jointly by Canada, Quebec, and the city of Montreal, Expo 67 was located opposite downtown Montreal on two islands in the St. Lawrence River. 


According to the official Expo 67 guidebook, the fair featured pavilions representing 62 countries from all over the globe. A large proportion of the national and regional pavilions included beers particular to that country or region, which were not typically available to Canadians. The Bulldog pub offered authentic British ales, the München Bavarian beer-garden, was run by Munich’s Löwenbrau Brewery and there was a replica of an American frontier-style saloon. The inclusion of varied and internationally-oriented establishments reinforced the multicultural nature of the fair, and by extension the host country. 


Visitors in search of Canadian beer found their destination at the Brewers Pavilion run by the Brewers Association of Canada (Beer Canada as of 2013). La Brasserie offered 60 different Canadian bottled beers from all of Canada’s then ten breweries, as well as Expo Draft Lager and Ale. 

While visitors to Montreal would normally be restricted to Quebec-brewed beers, visitors to Expo 67’s Brewers Pavilion were able to try Oland’s Schooner beer from Nova Scotia, Kokanee Pilsner from Interior Breweries in BC and Northern Ale from Doran’s Northern Ontario Breweries. 

So, did Expo 67 encourage Canadians to embrace multiculturalism? As was noted in the 1967 report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which had been commissioned to examine the linguistic and cultural relationships and tensions between English and French Canadians, Expo 67 showed that 'Canada reflects the world in microcosm’. Expo 67’s modern, progressive multiculturalism encouraged Canadians to embrace their diversity. The non-traditional celebration of Canadian beer foreshadowed a future in which Canadians could choose from a wide-variety of Canadian beers with pride and delight. 

Duncan Cowie is a historian and archivist and a brewing student at the Niagara College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program. 

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