expo 67 lounge

Mid-century fashion, vintage pop culture and retro cool... from Expo 67 and beyond.

12 May 2017

The Katimavik Ashtray

The 'Katimavik' was a 1000-ton structure, with a hollow steel frame.

One of the things I love about Expo 67 anniversary years is the amount of unearthed information and never-seen-before archives that comes to light.

In the early days of this blog, I wrote about one of my favorite Expo 67 anecdotes: the fact that the Canadian pavilion's Katimavik was, in fact, inspired by an ashtray.

A recent cbc.ca article spoke to Caroline Robbie, daughter of Rod Robbie, one of the architects that worked on the Canada pavilion. Her father's firm Ashworth Robbie Vaughan and Williams won the bid for the pavilion's design; after many late nights, and (ahem) lots of cigarettes... From the article: 

Robbie and his partners were smoking up a storm one night as they grappled with ways to create a visually impressive vantage point for the pavilion without impeding the flow of foot traffic on the ground below.

The overflowing, four-sided ashtray with its sloping, upside-down pyramid design suddenly caught their eye.

"They started looking at the form of this ashtray on the table, and it was perfect," Caroline says. "It would touch the ground as little as possible and therefore not impede the flow of people around it, but it would also offer the greatest amount of vantage point for those who work their way through the pavilion and up to the top."

"You could look out all the way around that pyramid all over the grounds."

A Canadian pavilion hostess next to a scale model.

Caroline Robbie still has the infamous ashtray, tucked away in a box full of her late father's belongings.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado... THE ashtray:

"Do you have a light?"

And, finally, from the NFB, what it was like inside the Katimavik:

images: (1) Yvon Desjardins, via Facebook
(2) Gabriel Jacob, via Facebook
(3) Caroline Robbie, via cbc.ca
video: excerpt of 'The Canadian Pavilion', NFB

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