Old Home Week Celebrations as Tourism Promotion and Commemoration: North Bay, Ontario, 1925 and 1935

By Noel, Francoise | Urban History Review, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview
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Old Home Week Celebrations as Tourism Promotion and Commemoration: North Bay, Ontario, 1925 and 1935


Noel, Francoise, Urban History Review


This paper examines Old Home Week Celebrations held in North Bay, Ontario, in 1925 and 1935 in terms of both tourism promotion and the public use of the past. Tourism promotion in 1925 reflected a booster attitude and the belief that North Bay would soon benefit from the construction of the Georgian Bay Ship Canal. In 1935, the nature of tourism had changed and the major promotional strategy used was to link a visit to the Dionne Quintuplets in Corbeil with travel to North Bay. In 1925 North Bay also celebrated its history, using a pageant parade, celebrated its pioneers, and turned the granting of city status into a public drama. The 1935 Old Home Week celebration, in contrast, lacked focus, but the decentralization of its organization created an opportunity for the French Canadians of North Bay and area to participate in the event to a much greater extent than in 1925 and to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's arrival in Canada. This memorialization reflected their desire for a greater involvement in civic affairs and the monument they erected created a lasting symbol of their presence in the city. Old Home Week celebrations can be used to study both tourism promotion and the social order of the city.

Cet article traite des celebrations entourant la Reunion des anciens de 1925 et 1935, qui ont eu lieu a North Bay, en Ontario, tant du point de vue de la promotion touristique que de l'exploitation du passe par ses citoyens. La promotion touristique en 1925 refletait l'enthousiasme et la conviction profonde que North Bay beneficierait prochainment de la construction du canal maritime de la baie Georgienne. En 1935, la nature du tourisme avait change et la principale strategie promotionnelle visait a associer une visite aux jumelles Dionne a Corbeil a un sejour a North Bay. En 1925, North Bay a aussi celebre son histoire par un defile historique, rendu hommage a ses pionniers et transforme la ceremonie de sa constitution en tant que ville en representation dramatique publique. Quant a la celebration de la Reunion des ancient de 1935, elle se caracterise par un manque de focalisation, mais la decentralisation de son organisation a donne l'occasion aux Canadiens francais de North Bay et de la region de participer a l'evenement davantage qu 'ils ne l'avaient fait en 1925 et de commemorer le 400e anniversaire de l'arrivee de Jacques Cartier au Canada. Leur desir d'une plus grande participation aux affaires municipales prenait ainsi forme et le monument erige a cette occasion devenait le symbole de leur presence dans la ville. Les celebrations entourant la Reunion des anciens peuvent servir a etudier a la fois la promotion touristique et l'ordre social de la ville.

Introduction

Across Ontario in the 1920s, cities and towns organized "Old Home Week" celebrations, which incorporated elements of traditional holiday celebrations-including parades, sports, fireworks, and entertainments-with aspects of ritual, public drama, commemoration, and pageantry. Strategically placed in the summer calendar to include a holiday such as Dominion Day or the August municipal holiday, these events were designed to attract tourists, especially "Old Boys," for the holiday as well as celebrate an anniversary or other event. Old Home Weeks were not new in the 1920s. Greencastle, Pennsylvania, claims to have held the first Old Home Week in 1902, (2) and a very similar event was organized in Toronto to celebrate its "Semi-Centennial" in 1884. (3) A large celebration called "Founders' Week" in Philadelphia in 1908 was also similar. (4) Petrolia held its first Old Home Week in 1908 to celebrate its oil town origins shortly after losing control of the oil industry, with similar events in 1925 and 1946. As Christina Burr argues, these public spectacles and festivals helped to forge connections between memory and place. (5) Old Home Week celebrations proliferated in the period before the First World War at much the same time as the pageant movement emerged in England and spread to the United States and Canada.

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