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A romance to remember

A romance to remember

The Australian staff at Expo 67 Montreal spent eight months living, working and socialising together. Many friendships were formed and some proved closer than others.

Ed Haysom and Lesley Lillyman met while working in the Australian pavilion and were married soon after. Their wedding was one of six that resulted from Australia's participation in Expo 67 Montreal.

Expo 67 Montreal official staff photographic identification cards belonging to Ed Haysom and Lesley 'Lil' Lillyman
Expo 67 Montreal official staff photographic identification cards belonging to Ed Haysom and Lesley 'Lil' Lillyman. Photos: National Museum of Australia.

Here, Ed recounts the story of how he and Lesley met:

Lesley was working at the Wellesley Hospital Toronto as a physiotherapist when she was interviewed by Rosie Fenton (now Sinclair) and Tom McMahon for the position as a pavilion hostess - having taken the compulsory 'sickie' to attend.

I was interviewed by Rosie and Tom in London where I was working at Australia House. Like most Aussies living in London in the 60s very few of us were going to make our first million, therefore to be chosen as one of the seven attendants was not only an honour but also a huge jump in salary!

On my arrival in Montreal at the apartments where we would be living, I had only ten pounds in my pocket. There were therefore two important things I had to do. First: I wanted to meet my new friends and neighbours, as the Australian staff were accommodated on the top two floors of an apartment block in Montreal. Second: was to find some way of surviving two weeks on ten pounds.

I set down the corridor to check out apartment 1905, knocked on the door and to my surprise there were five gorgeous girls inside!

I was asked if I would like to join them shopping to stock up on supplies. This was my chance as the girl who let me in to the apartment, Lesley, asked me if I needed to change my ten pounds into Canadian dollars. On commenting that I didn't think ten pounds would buy me much she very kindly offered to lend me some money to last me until payday.

As they say, 'the rest's history!' and she's still managing the finances!

Ed and Lil celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in 2008. They were among a group of former Australian pavilion staff who attended the official launch of the Expo 67 Montreal display at the National Museum in September 2007.

Ed and Lil Haysom on their wedding day and in 2007
Ed and Lil Haysom on their wedding day and in 2007.
Photos: Ed and Lil Haysom.