Old Photographs of Saint Helen’s Island (1967-1969)

Montreal, as we have come to know it, is famous for its nightlife and activities. In the summertime, we have an amusement park right in our neighbourhood to keep us entertained all summer long. Did you know that before Park Jean-Drapeau had its current name, it was known as Saint Helen’s Island? The island itself holds so much of Montreal’s history. I’ve always wondered how the island must have looked back when the park first opened its doors. In this post, you will find a glimpse of Saint Helen’s Island during the Expos, as well as La Ronde when it first welcomed Montrealers through its doors.

1967 – Arial view of La Ronde and the Expo Express station in the park.
1968 – Arial view of the United States pavilion on Saint-Helen’s Island.
1968 – Close -up of a ride at La Ronde with the ferris wheel in the background.
1968 – Exposition inside the Biosphere.
1968 – Alternate view of exposition insde the Biosphere.
1968 – Gardens inside the Biosphere.

I truly find these shots of the original Biosphere so magical. I’ve always been a lover of great photography and these shots of the gardens, are beautiful. They stand so still and give off a sense of peace. Unfortunately, the original Biosphere caught fire on May. 20. 1976.

Seeing these photographs makes me definitely want to explore the ‘new’ Biosphere museum. I’ve been in Montreal all my life and still haven’t had the chance to go.

1968 – Opening ceremonies at the Terre des hommes [Man and His World] exhibition.1968 – Jean Drapeau at the Terre des Hommes [Man and his World] exhibit.
This is the man himself, Jean Drapeau, who was mayor of Montreal at the time. He is pictured here,  visiting the Terre des Hommes [Man and his world] exhibit during the Expos. He is a very important figure in Montreal’s history, he was the man behind our metros, he brought the Expos to Montreal and re-shaped the islands. It wasn’t until 1999, that the city renamed Saint-Helen’s Island to Park Jean-Drapeau to honour what Drapeau did for the city.  I find it super interesting to put a face to the man that the park is currently named after to this day.

1968 – A night photograph of La Ronde and its replica of La Grande Hermine [Jacques Cartier’s sail boat].
1968 – Alternate view of La Ronde in the summer in Children’s world sector.
1968 – Photograph of La Ronde in the daytime during the summer in the Children’s world sector of the park.
1968 – Entrance to La Ronde with the Expo 67 banner.
1968 – View of the Jacques Cartier bridge from La Ronde.
1968 – Souvenir stand found in the park.
1968- Restaurant found in La Ronde.
1968 – The signage found around the park at the time.
1968 – La Pitoune ride at La Ronde.

I feel lucky to have had the chance to have ridden the legendary Pitoune ride. It was the ride I looked forward to every time I visited La Ronde. Ever since it got taken down, La Ronde has never been the same.

1968 – Games kiosk found inside the park.
1968 – Maritime museum found inside the park at the time.
1969 – Arial view of La Ronde and the rides inside the park.


Find more photos from the Montréal archives on their website.



About Dalia Nardolillo 3 Articles
Dalia, a photojournalist hailing from Montreal, is deeply passionate about documenting events and sharing stories about people's lives. She is on track to graduate from Concordia University with a degree in journalism and a minor in art history. Currently, Dalia holds the position of Editor-in-Chief at her school's newspaper, The Concordian. Following graduation, she aims to secure a full-time reporting job at a major news outlet.