Performance and Memory: The Trans-Canada Highway and the Jumping Pound Grade Separator, Alberta

By White, Stephanie | Ethnologies, Annual 2002 | Go to article overview

Performance and Memory: The Trans-Canada Highway and the Jumping Pound Grade Separator, Alberta


White, Stephanie, Ethnologies


The building of the Trans-Canada Highway (1949-1961) was a nationalist exercise spurred by forecasts of increased road links with the United States for trade and tourism, and undertaken in the postwar climate of the Cold War. It is an object of national unity coordinated by the provinces, illustrating how a federal government policy was enacted on a series of local sites, by provincial governments often historically suspicious of federal intentions. Besides the road surface itself there are a certain number of attendant structures: bridges, overpasses, tunnels and lay-bys. These were designed and constructed locally (provincially in rural areas, municipally when the Trans-Canada Highway crossed a city) according to Trans-Canada Highway Act guidelines. The building of the Trans-Canada Highway and the engineering works along its route collectively forma piece of material culture very much a product of its time.

In any structure, technology and universality are bonded to locale. It is local soil conditions, building materials, labour, climate, economics, politics and culture that take a universal, modern idea and adjust it to fit local conditions. This is not a matter of choice or a desire to ameliorate universal culture, but a necessity. The adaptation of technological solutions to specific tasks while affirming the aesthetics of specific communities is necessary to material existence and social survival. In this case a simple universal concept, a cross-Canada highway connecting, with a single pavement, all the provinces, met a number of challenges that were inevitably local. The imposition of a single system on an uneven terrain has resonance with the impact of globalisation on an unevenly developed world: access is improved, local identities are in danger of becoming folklorical, the possibility of authoritarian control is facilitated. The role of highways as channels of development, as deliverers of tourists to the landscape and, as in Eisenhower's justification of the United States Interstate system, a means of military defence, operates with a sense of a larger whole, which is the nation, that the highways render coherent and that in turn renders the highways intelligible.

The particularities of sited modernism counter the perception of a homogenizing and universal movement. General ideas carried from metropolitan centres to a peripheral site -- Alberta for example -- can be seen to liberate a host of peripheral events rather than suppressing them. One might say that modernism consists precisely of the dialectic between the local and the universal, both necessary to the other. Here, the Trans-Canada Highway project as a postwar political idea, and one specific highway grade separator, #74596 at Jumping Pound Creek on the Bowness to Kananaskis portion of the Trans-Canada Highway, 22 kilometres west of Calgary, precipitate several interesting issues. Designed in 1963 by the Department of Alberta Highways, it epitomizes an era of sleek, minimal, modernist engineering. If, as Tzonis suggests, one of the basic tenets of modernism is the defamiliarisation of the environment in order to re-present it without the obscuring layers of cultural expectation (Tzonis 1996: 176), then this era of engineering works provided a lens with which to see the landscape defamiliarised and represented as simple, clean and sublime, not the complicated and difficult nineteenth century view of the Canadian landscape. The bridging of the highway was presented as lightweight and effortless, unlike earlier and often later bridge technology. Jumping Pound overpass was designed in the same decade that Margaret Atwood wrote Survival, the last version of the thesis that the threatening landscape had forged the Canadian character.(1)

The Trans-Canada Highway is cited as one of a handful of major national initiatives following the Second World War. The St. Lawrence Seaway, the Trans-Canada Pipeline, the Trans-Canada Highway, the National Housing Act, the introduction of government health care, the pension plan -- all envisaged Canada as a unity that national projects could traverse (Clement 1984: 40-41). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Performance and Memory: The Trans-Canada Highway and the Jumping Pound Grade Separator, Alberta
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.