Our Expo 86 holdings

Thirty years ago on May 2, 1986, Vancouver’s World’s Fair, Expo 86, was officially opened by TRH Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally known as Transpo, Expo 86’s theme was “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch”. The 173-acre exposition site featured 65 pavilions representing countries, provinces and territories, and corporations.

Expo Centre, August 1986. Photo: CoV Archives, Ernie Reksten, 2010-006.440

Expo Centre, August 1986, Ernie Reksten. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.440

Expo 86 Information Board, August 1986. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.396

Expo 86 Information Board, Ernie Reksten. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.396

While the official records of the Expo Corporation are part of the holdings of the BC Archives, we do have some related materials in our holdings. Here’s an overview of what we have.

  • Film footage shot by Mike Collier of Yaletown Productions, the official videographer for Expo 86. From raw footage to television ads to promotional films, the Yaletown records capture the Expo site before and during the exposition, and show the daily goings-on at Expo as well as the transformation of northeast False Creek.


Expo 86 ads by Yaletown Productions. Reference code: AM1553-8-S7-: MI-351

  • Photographs taken at Expo by amateur photographer Ernie Reksten (1912-1997). In addition to the Expo site, Reksten’s photographs show Expo 86 legacy building and construction projects.
Expo 86, Yellow Zone (BCTV broadcasting studio on right). Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.397

Expo 86, Ernie Reksten. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.397

Looking north at Expo site and fireworks barge moored in False Creek. Reference code: 2010-006.437

Looking north at Expo site and fireworks barge moored in False Creek, Ernie Reksten Reference code: 2010-006.437

Expo 86 water park - UFO-H20. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.401

Expo 86 water park – UFO-H20, Ernie Reksten. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.401

  • Pamphlets galore! Our pamphlets collection includes handouts from many Expo pavilions, entertainment guides, and other promotional materials and ephemera.
  • The Official Expo 86 Cookbook by cookbook author Susan Mendelson. It includes a recipe section entitled  “Restaurant Favourites”, which is a guide to the multi-ethnic mix of restaurants in Vancouver circa 1986.
Cover of the Official Expo 86 Cookbook by Susan Mendelson. Reference code: TX 715 .M462 1988.

Cover of the Official Expo 86 Cookbook by Susan Mendelson and food photographer Derik Murray. Reference code: TX 715 .M462 1988.

The six-month-long exposition closed October 13, 1986 with a final attendance of 22,111,578 visitors.

Expo 86 gondola and crowds. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.392.

Expo 86 gondola and crowds, Ernie Reksten. Reference code: AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.392.

Please let us know if you’ve found these resources useful. And we’d love to hear about your own memories of Expo 86!

[Editor’s note: This post was written by Jana Grazley and Christine Hagemoen]

5 responses to “Our Expo 86 holdings

  1. Joey Hansen

    Wow, that brought back some memories. Thanks for sharing!

  2. graham slater

    in 1986, photo’s were taken of selected individual’s-100- those born in Vancouver prior to 66.how can one access these photo’s?Thanyou

  3. Heather Gordon

    The “Distinguished Pioneer” photographs are part of our Vancouver Centennial Commission fonds and are available for viewing at the Archives, Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. They will be available online later this year as part of a grant-funded digitization project.

  4. simon bancroft

    Do you have a record of the vessels that were displayed as part of the boats from around the world exhibit or Ship of Dreams?

  5. Heather Gordon

    The official records of Expo 86 are held by BC Archives: http://search.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca/expo-86-records They might have record of the vessels. Our Expo holdings come from non-provincial holdings, like the film company that did a lot of promotional work for the fair.

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