15 Nostalgic Photos of Expo 86

Comments 11 by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s surprising how much I remember about Expo 86, given that I was only 6 years old when the World Exposition on Transportation and Communication took over Vancouver from May until October in 1986. I remember going to Guildford Mall to get our family photos taken for our season passes. I had found something to cry about and threw a tantrum so the pass I used for those eventful months featured a soggy, red-faced, woeful little girl. My brother convinced me that I’d have to cry every time I entered the Expo 86 gates so that they knew I was the rightful pass holder.

Expo 86 - The McBarge! expo Expo 86 - What Yaletown used to look like... kinda Expo 86 - Boom boats
Some of my family’s photos from Expo 86

I remember the gondola, the monorail on which I got lost as I boarded without my family. I watched the distance between us grow as the train left the station only to have us reunited on the next station’s platform.

I do have good memories of Expo 86 though. Getting my passport stamped at each pavilion, the unique little cars and boats that transported us over and around the fair grounds. The smell of the food wafting out of McBarge, the dance of the boom boats, riding Highway 86, and the enchanting theme song.

Here are a few images sourced from the City of Vancouver Archives, from the Ernie Reksten fonds, that just might bring back some fond memories for you too:

15 Nostalgic Photos of Expo 86

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.395. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.394. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.392 © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.509. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.409 © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.496. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.401. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.435. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.396. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.453. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.387. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.385. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.495. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.422. © City of Vancouver

Archives# AM1551-S1-: 2010-006.397. © City of Vancouver

See also: The Best Old PNE Photos 1914-1980 »

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11 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. NatalieTuesday, March 24th, 2015 — 4:35pm PDT

    I was just a Expo baby

  2. EliseTuesday, March 24th, 2015 — 9:57pm PDT

    Wow cool to see those old Expo photos!

  3. RachelWednesday, March 25th, 2015 — 12:48am PDT

    Wish I was here for this!
    This must have been such a cool experience.

  4. Caroline CalvertWednesday, March 25th, 2015 — 9:27am PDT

    I was 13 and have fond memories of coming to Vancouver from up North for the Expo. We camped in our camper at one of the designated camping sites (A parking lot near BC Place) I have a photo of me sitting at the Unicorn Pub having lunch and i ended up working there in my 20s (Mavricks) great photos

  5. Deanna TWednesday, March 25th, 2015 — 7:44pm PDT

    I worked at Expo {Boston Pizza} serving beer and pizza slices…after work we would go around and look at the exhibits… I wish they kept most of it…. was a great time for B.C

  6. ClaireThursday, March 26th, 2015 — 2:39pm PDT

    I was there in my shoulder pads and big hair! Twice. And the most precious souvenir was my stamped Expo Passport, which I still have. I loved visiting all those countries! Probably contributed to my insatiable travel wanderlust!

    – ClaireFromYVR

  7. TerryFriday, March 27th, 2015 — 11:20am PDT

    I was there when i was 5yrs and can still somewhat recall having my ear drums sore for quite sometime afterwards seeing the fireworks that night of this event

  8. Bruce ClaggettSunday, March 29th, 2015 — 11:26am PDT

    I remember the concerts. Honeymoon Suite and Platnum Blonde!

  9. LaurenTuesday, December 22nd, 2015 — 8:33pm PST

    My most vivid memories were the hologram show at the Canada pavilion and the 3D movie where the lumber came out at you, watching Tony Parsons broadcast the 6:00 news, playing in the water park and on the grey car/motorcycle statues, and being in awe of my little brother who rode the Scream Machine even though he was only 5 years old and too short.

  10. LelainiaLloydWednesday, April 27th, 2016 — 9:39am PDT

    My step dad was the blacksmith at Expo, in the purple zone. As a result, we spent a lot of time there. I remember my cousin coming from California to do expo and we were laughing at people who were wearing shorts and sitting on the metal benches. The benches would leave marks on the backs of their legs when they stood up, so we started referring to this as “waffle ass”. One day I was riding the gondolas to go see my step dad and as we went over the Yukon pavilion, the Americans looked down and spotted the skidoos. They thought they were SEAdoos which cracked me up. It was a good time. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago!

  11. MikeMonday, July 25th, 2016 — 4:47pm PDT

    I was there as a kid. Love seeing the old photos.

    I actually managed to get a few banners that flew during Expo 86. They were painted by children and after Expo were in the pediatric wing of Lions Gate Hospital where I used to work. When the Pediatric wing was moved to its new home, they were giving the banners away to staff and I got three of them.

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