Academic journal article Urban History Review

Victoria Debates Its Post-Industrial Reality: Tourism, Deindustrialization, and Store-Hour Regulations, 1900-1958

Academic journal article Urban History Review

Victoria Debates Its Post-Industrial Reality: Tourism, Deindustrialization, and Store-Hour Regulations, 1900-1958

Article excerpt

Abstract

By examining local debates about store-hour regulations in Victoria, BC, this article highlights the extent to which the city's decision to pursue tourism promotion as an economic alternative to traditional industry divided the local community. Some community members championed tourism as an effective alternative economic strategy and fought to eliminate the city's store-hour restrictions, especially the Wednesday half-holiday, because they believed these restrictions limited tourist expenditures. Others strenuously opposed the elimination of these restrictions on the grounds that they served the social and cultural interests of the local community. The article calls for a more flexible understanding of "deindustrialization" that views the term less as an "era" and more as an inherent characteristic of capitalism and argues that the recent literature on deindustrialization holds important lessons for historians examining the period before 1970.

Resume

En examinant les debats qui ont eu lieu a Victoria, en Colombie-Britannique, sur les heures d'ouverture des magasins, cet article souligne jusqu'a quel point la decision de la municipalite de poursuivre le tourisme comme alternative economique a l'industrie traditionnelle a divise la communaute locale. Certains membres de la communaute defendaient l'efficacite du tourisme comme alternative economique et reclamaient l'elimination des reglements municipaux sur les heures d'ouverture, notamment la fermeture d'une demi-journee le mercredi, croyant que ces restrictions limitaient les depenses des touristes. D'autres s'opposaient vigoureusement a l'elimination de ces restrictions sous pretexte qu'elles servaient les interets culturels et sociaux de la communaute. Cet article appelle a une comprehension plus flexible de la <> qui voit celle-ci moins comme <> que comme caracteristique inherente au capitalisme et soutient la litterature recente sur le theme de la desindustrialisation contient d'importantes lecons pour les historiens qui examinent la periode d'avant 1970.

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Empty streets and shuttered doors are an anachronism in this age of
modern merchandising. The loss in tourist dollars is incalculable.
--Victoria Daily Times editorial, 1954 (1)

I can't see why we would benefit much by staying open and catering more
to the tourists--just because a few American snobs complain about stores
being closed Wednesday afternoon ... Let them come at our convenience.
--Victoria resident James L. Carter, 1956 (2)

Introduction

At first glance these statements appear to have very little to do with the issue of deindustrialization. Neither quotation employs the term and both concern retail sales rather than industrial production. Moreover, both quotes are from the 1950s rather than the 1970s and early 1980s--the period traditionally identified with deindustrialization in North America. (3) And yet these quotes represent opposing sides involved in a series of debates in Victoria, BC, that were shaped by the local community's divided response to deindustrialization--debates on the regulation of store hours. This study explores these debates and examines the impact on the local community of Victoria's increasing dependence on tourism--a dependence brought about by the fact that Victoria's place as British Columbia's leading industrial centre had been usurped in the late nineteenth century by its mainland rival, Vancouver. A key issue in the debates was the extent to which the local community should be catering to tourists. While some elements of the local community argued that doing so was the only way to secure economic prosperity for the city, others countered that the city was catering to outsiders at the expense of the living standards of its own citizens. In exploring this tension, the study reveals the tangible manner in which Victoria's economic transformation from an industrial to a post-industrial city affected the local community--in this case by challenging the legitimacy of the city's half-day mid-week holiday, which had been created as a bulwark against the growing power of consumption to colonize leisure time and, thus, dictate the rhythms of daily life. …

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