Expo 86 is coming to Vancouver

The year 1986 is bound to be a red-letter one for Vancouver: It's the 100th anniversary of the city, as well as the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the transcontinental railroad on the Pacific coast. What better way to celebrate than with a World Exposition?

Expo 86 will focus on transportation and communications - appropriately, considering the importance of the railroad in the history of the city.

Thirty-three nations have signed up to take part so far; there is room for between 45 and 50 in all, according to spokesman Michael Powell.

''It (will be) the first time the US, the USSR, and China have all appeared on the same site,'' says Mr. Powell. ''One of the reasons for this is that for many years Canada has been an active participant in fairs around the world.''

The Soviet Union is increasing the size of its pavilion because China and the United States are attending, he says.

The site is a long, slender one, stretching along the rim of the city's waterfront, once an industrial area of sawmills and rail yards. Officials plan to use many different and amusing forms of transportation to move people to and around the site, including a Boeing hydrofoil, a monorail, two gondolas, hovercraft, ferries, water taxis, and a sea bus.

Some 1,400 on-site performances are planned: Among the highlights will be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police musical ride and what was intriguingly described as a ''Cantonese precision motorcycle thrill team.''

Many of the events will strike a nostalgic note. For instance, old steam engines will race to the site from all over North America; their scheduled arrival date is May 23. Air Canada, to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1986, will whistle-stop all over the country featuring the Lockheed 10A that made AC's original transcontinental flight in 1937; its crew will wear uniforms of the period. The Lockheed will arrive at Expo on May 2, in time for the opening. A fleet of Tall Ships will put in an appearance on June 30.

One spectacular event scheduled for June 7 is a fly-pass of DC-3s - 50 of them - from around the world.

Also promised are the world's first ''state of the art'' 3D IMAX movie theater, the world's largest Omnimax movie theater, a theater-in-the-round featuring a film on Canada by Walt Disney Productions, a ''participatory theater ,'' and a children's theater.

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