A look back at memories of the Expo 86 legacy on its 25th Anniversary from you and the co-designer of the fair’s logo Ian MacLeod.
The World Fair opened May 2nd, 1986 in an area known as False Creek, a previous toxic contaminated industrial area in Vancouver, BC Canada.
After the fair ended Oct 26, new high rise developments over the next 2 decades would change the look of the city skyline and Vancouver would grow up to become one of the best cities in the world.
I asked my friends what they remembered about Expo 86 on my facebook profile, and that’s where Ian MacLeod told me that with creative director Frank Mayrs, he helped “design” the iconic Expo 86 logo.
Ian also worked on the graphics for the colourful street banners as well as graphics for the Northwest Territories pavilion designed by Bing Thom.
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ian studied Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba and graphic design at Red River College.
Before Expo 86, Ian worked for a small graphic design studio who’s most exciting client (from his point of view) was the Manitoba Theatre Centre.
In 1972 Ian sent a portfolio of work to Chief Designer Frank Mayrs at the Canadian Government Exposition Commission (Information Canada) in Ottawa where he was hired in a few short weeks and moved with his wife Gailene.
Along with Frank Mayrs, Ian was sent to Vancouver in 1975, to work on Habitat the 1976 UN Conference on Human Settlements, as Graphic Coordinator.
At the end of the conference he returned to his position in Ottawa, then in 1977 Ian and his wife moved to North Vancouver and opened a graphic design firm in Vancouver.
Through his design company Ian began work on some aspects of the World Exposition in 1980 – including
development of the logo with Frank Mayrs who returned to Vancouver as the Creative Director.
In 1981 Ian started as Graphic Coordinator for Transpo 86 on a contract basis. The name would later be changed to Expo 86, but still keep much of the transportation theme.
Frank Mayrs (1934 – 1994) was the Creative Director of the World Fair, and strived for excellence. He, along with Patrick Reid (Commissioner General and Ambassador) believed in innovation and creativity.
The Chief Architect was Bruno Freschi who was responsible for the site plan and the Expo Module pavillion design.
Jimmy Pattison was the Expo 86 Chairman and CEO.
Mike Bartlett was brought in from the US as President of Expo 86 – his background was in theme parks. He established a team with theme park experience (and the mandate started to change).
Mayrs left when the direction of the World’s Fair became that of a more ‘commercial’ venture rather than a forum of intellectual vision, discovery and invention.
The new Creative Director was Ron Woodall (an advertising genius).
Ian left in 1984 and formed a new design partnership – and started working on a number of EXPO projects. His first briefing was with Patrick Reid the day after his ‘retirement’ party.
Advertising agency creative director Peter Matthews took over Ian’s position, which grew into a large department with some very talented designers and production team headed up by Dale Simonson and Win Seaton.
Ian continued to work on various marketing projects and EXPO site graphics as well as the graphics for the Canada pavilion and the North West Territories pavilion designed by architect Bing Thom and the exhibits conceived by designer David Jensen.
When he looks back on it now Ian says he can “clearly see how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to work with Frank Mayrs and so many Vancouver designers, photographers, architects, planners, writers and printers. There was a creative freedom with no limitations, something and how just extraordinary that was.”
“For me the experience was stimulating and unforgettable.”
Many thanks Ian for rustling about those great memories, facts and sharing the Expo 86 memorabilia! Ian’s involvement in the world transportation fair came to light when I asked my facebook friends what they remembered of the fair on its 25th Anniversary.
Wow 25 years ago today! 😀
That was amazing although I was skeptical. I remember seeing Princess Di and Charles at BC Place stadium for the opening ceremonies with 60,000 people I think it was. I also got hired by BC Ferries that year. Anyone else remember Expo 86? 51 comments 9 likes
good times.. good times\
i sang in the opening choir…(always a shoe gurl right?)
I remember drinking strawberry margaritas at the Mexico pavillion while watching the fireworks. I was almost legal.
didn’t think you were that old Duane lol
the Russian pav had the best food
Jody van der Woerd
Waaaaay before my time.
Loved that time of life…..:) 1986 it was a good year!!
some amazing exhibits, loved the rainbow war film, the first nation story, the 3D big screen, crap it was all good! Maybe we should host another one? 😛
Jody van der Woerd
Why don’t I remember those? I was probably too busy chasing shit head kids all over the place and missed it all. I DO remember the Ramses Exhibit though and that was the only one I REALLY, REALLY wanted to see.
Yes we had passports and I couldn’t ride the roller coaster, Pregnant with Jo ! it was a good time !
with creative director Frank Mayrs, I designed the logo.
I thought it was a good event for remembrance and commemoration, too. Remember all the rain and clouds we had that year and then how bodaciouly beautiful it was after that? Employee train trams that seemed to be have imported direct from studio lots in Los Angeles..and the weather to match.I remember how proud I felt to get access to the grounds as an employee and work so hard to impress tourists at the International Cafeteria and BBQ where I worked. And then on the final day during the fireworks, having only lived in Vancouver for about two years by then, was the first really good to cheer so loud since I had been here. What a great time Expo 86 was. Thanks for posting.
also worked on the graphics for the Northwest Territories pavilion – and the street banners.
We lived i Mission because we couldn’t afford the rents in the Vancouver suburbs. The kids all got to attend because the schools bussed them in for field trips. I got to stand and look out the window at Dept of Fisheries and Oceans, at the crowds gathering for Chuck ‘n’ Di. Then I went back to my desk and booked my boss onto a flight to Halifax.
Anyone remember the corkscrew roller coaster? i terrorized my poor cousins taking them on it. what a blast 2 min ride 1 hour wait was worth it 😀
Cindy Lee Evans
Was a great year my middle daughter Kristi Evans was born
The concert with Bryan Adams and Studio 86…:)
The Spirit Lodge was very cool.
Thanks Heather that was the name of it! The Spirit Lodge it was brilliant amazing 3D live story telling and unfortunately sponsored by a car company but you can’t have everything.
Pammila Stew Ruth
That was a year of change for me: Met my future hubby, started working at the Royal Bank (started as one of the AMBASSADORS for Expo! Met LOTS of big-wigs, who I had NOT a clue who they were LOL) then worked ON-SITE exchanging dirty money… for our ‘funee-munee’. Soon moved in with future hubby onto Beach Ave, over-looking Expo. Fireworks every night! AWESOME! Friends came out of the woodwork! LOL “We’re going to bed… just let yourselves out when the fireworks are over…” L Best memory of the actual EXPO: “Wasn’t That A Party?” THE UNICORN! Cheers Expo 86! (thanks for another walk down memory lane, Duane! ♥
Coulda bin the whiskey, might of bin the gin? coulda bin the 3-4-6 pack I don’t know look at the mess I’m in! Wasn’t that a party! Irish Rover’s VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/wat
It was a good year. It was the year I fell in love.
86 was the year Vancouver got so unbearable for me that I moved to Pender Harbour. Expo 86 gave us a “world-class city” but we got world-class crime along with it. I lived just off Broadway & Granville, and within a few months the B&Es sky…rocketed, hookers were everywhere, the building next door was set on fire (arson) and a dead body (heroin o/d) was dragged into my parking area. Not to mention the traffic, and the trafficking, which went absolutely crazy. Oh, and I forgot about the homeless guy who moved into the laundry room.
I did have a free pass for the whole thing though, from a buddy who set up the Can-Dive pavillion 🙂
Something’s Happening Here
EXPO 86 Theme Song and Fireworks
I remember the crowds, the concrete highway sculpture, the opening ceremonies (peaking in from the aisles cause I was working at BC Place), the nightly fireworks – set the world in motion, together we ca catch a rising star…
I came down the end of May ’86 for a school band trip. We played the Plaza of Nations.
I was there. I was two. I was naked, playing in the water fountain. There are photos.
Married my LOVE 25 years July!
I was there too with my class and my sisters and we were part of the opening ceremonies- we saw Lady Diana up close….beautiful lady (as well as Mulroney, Bennett and Charles, but they no where look as good).
i remember all the buses had the moto “don’t miss it for the world” I missed it, for the world.
Yes. Between 1st and 2nd year UBC hanging out at many Pavilions as they were called.
I was living in Ontario then, but my sister came to Expo 86 and had a great time.
aw d man enough with the monarky crap
i remember the food being really expensive and you weren’t allowed to bring your own.
Yes I was volunteering at Expo 86 at the Highway 86. And at the sculptures for placement throughout the city at Kits Point. They had hardly anyone show up there! I was thrilled to be polishing and water power washing some of the great pieces in Vancouver’s outdoor art works that are still vibrant today. And I had my opera premiere with LA SCALA! I was chorus in IL TROVATORE – *l heard it on CBC FM last Saturday and was in a little bit of tears. Best experience onstage. 12 foot metal horses in front of me as we sang this giant march off to war. And then photographed – 2 page spread in the Expo Memorial Book as a blonde priest – THAT WAS HYSTERICAL. I was overjoyed to be one of 459 who applied and only 40 who were hired. And since I’ve been chorus with La Scala and with Edmonton Opera’s 25th Anniversary – AIDA – I was stripped down to an egyptian tiny kilt, with a wig and wrist cuffs – inside the cuffs I had the cheat sheets of phonetic italian to remember my lines. Maestro caught me and stole them from me on 3rd night. And laughed all the way back to his podium after the snatch of my words. I just made it through – JUST – thereafter.
Premiere at the time cut off all of us going into the Peru exhibit, then 4 royals from Belgium and Norway went in – and we were welcomed along with them as long as we gave them 10 feet of space in respect. I really thought royality rocked, and politics sucked! What a great experience.
Huge thanks everyone for your great memories and to Ian for all the amazing Expo 86 memoriablia.
I went online and found a great 3 part video series with great footage highlighting the fair plus the official theme song! Each of the 3 segments is about 10 minutes long and I post the playlist here for all of you to enjoy.
Expo 86 3 Part Video Playlist PLUS Theme Song
Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane…
Do you have a memory of Expo 86? Please post and comment below.
It’s Always a Good Day on the Sunshine Coast! Duane Burnett