Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970

Article excerpt

M. Dawson, Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2004), xiii + 274pp. Cloth. $95. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 0-7748-1055-6.

This is a cultural history that examines the evolution of the tourist industry of British Columbia throughout much of the twentieth century. The author's approach makes effective use of an innovative perspective with a focus on imagery utilised in the promotion of tourism. The book demonstrates how the aboriginal and British cultures of the province affected commodification and marketing to the tourist trade, with some reference to an emphasis on gender employed in promotional campaigns, especially in the 1940s. The analysis has recourse to promotional pamphlets, newspaper advertisements and film as well as archive sources from government, civic and international tourism groups. The author's thesis is that an understanding of a mature consumer culture in Canada requires an appreciation of the connections between the 1930s and 1940s and the postwar era. The significance of the Great Depression and the Second World War (periods thought of as being characterised by under-consumption) for the development of universal tourism promotion and consumerism is highlighted.

At the outset, the author emphasises that the consumer society is founded on values that are in one sense pessimistic: 'materialistic, hedonistic, and narcissistic, but from an optimistic standpoint based on individual sovereignty and freedom of choice. …

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