Even before it opened, it was apparent that Canada's rousing 100th birthday party, the fabulous Expo 67, would have something good for almost everyone. But what, specifically, would it offer the sports fan? Answer: plenty.
For one thing, the Montreal fair will serve as the focus of one of the most dramatic long-distance sporting contests in history, a 3,283-mile cross-Canada canoe race. This transcontinental event will get under way in two weeks in western Canada when 10 teams of nine men each (including plumbers, insurance agents, ranchers, truck drivers, and at least one logger who calls himself "King of the North") will set out to cross the country in camper trucks and pseudo-birchbark canoes patterned on those used by the north country's early fur traders.
Six men from each team will start paddling from a little town called Rocky Mountain House in Alberta. Three others from each team will start driving the campers loaded with supplies to the next designated camping site. Bypassing moose, thrusting past logs and boulders, fending off bears at deserted campsites, struggling through white water, paddling, portaging, keeping body, soul, canoe and truck together, these hardy representatives—or what is left of them—of Canada's 10 magnificent provinces will eventually emerge into the treacherous La-chine Rapids of the St. Lawrence near Expo 67 in early September.
Then the survivors will drag their canoes onto the shores of the man-made He Notre-Dame, portage across and splash down again into the Lac des Voyageurs for a final dash to the finish.
Besides the canoeists, a fleet of 15 ocean-racing yachts is headed across the Atlantic for Montreal, and other cruising craft are coming from all over Canada, including one manned by Dr. J. Tuzo Wilson, a University of Toronto geophysics teacher, who is sailing up in his Chinese junk. About 70% of the 5,145 marinas in the U.S. plan organized cruises to Canada this summer, and a 50-boat sailing fleet is making the passage from Halifax.
An inexpensive Expo Marina, accommodating 350 boats—each limited to eight days' stay—has been built on the He Sainte Helene to take care of the visitors. Here, for a minimum of $3 a day, the boatman can get telephone, water, electricity, boat watchers, mechanics and even scuba divers to retrieve articles lost overboard. There is a glass-walled clubhouse to serve the area. Other marinas are being readied at nearby St. Lambert and Valleyfield and will provide buses to the Expo site.
For land-based sport Expo has an unusual new stadium called the Autostade (a name easily understood in French and English, which neatly suits the requirement that all Expo signs be bilingual). This imposing facility cost General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors and Volvo $3.3 million. No posts or obstructions mar the view from its 25,000 regular seats, and their number can be augmented to seat still another 10,000 fans. The Autostade will offer some great firsts in the next six months.
At the North American Indian Lacrosse Tournament on August 4, 5, and 6, Canadian and U.S. Indian teams will be presenting the very first tournament of its kind in our continent's oldest sport. In this rugged game field-lacrosse rules will prevail (10 men to a team, field 60 by 110 yards, goals 6 feet by 6 feet), and it will be played in two 30-minute halves in order to allow an intermission long enough for native Indian dancers to strut their stuff.
A unique international track and field meet, pitting the best performers from the Americas against those from Europe, will take place August 9 and 10. There will be no preliminary heats to slow up the action. "It will, in its own way, be greater than the Olympics, more exciting," says one delighted Canadian sportsman.
From May 31 to June 11 Autostade will be the site of a soccer tournament featuring six top international teams, including England's World Cup champions. The Great Western Rodeo, produced by Alberta's Herman Linder, offering $40,000 in prizes, and the World Horse Spectacular will be other Autostade presentations. In the latter event the Royal Canadian Mounted Police perform a 32-man musical ride on horseback, and the King's Troupe of the Royal Horse Artillery is coming from England to perform a musical drill in which horse teams with guns do precison maneuvers with split-second timing.
Elsewhere in Canada in this centennial year more than 70 international championships will take place. There will be a World Exhibition Powerboat Regatta in Valleyfield, the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, the World Water Ski Championships in Sherbrook, Que., a $200,000 Canadian Open at Montreal's Municipal Golf Club. And, also in Montreal, national, international and world titles will be decided in at least 16 different sports—including table tennis, fencing, tennis, cycling, skeet shooting, sailing and swimming. At the University of Montreal they even expect to stage an international ski-jumping championship in mid-July. "We'll just crush a lot of ice for it," said one student, "and make a lot of stingers after it's over."