Thursday, August 04, 2011

Canadian Sport and Leisure: Summer Edition: "You are what you Drive"

For my short mini-series I looked back to my Canadian Culture course from last summer, which was instrumental in my interest in Canadian sports and leisure. When I was exploring some of my old resources I came across this amazing website that examines the North American car culture. "You are What You Drive" created by the Canadian Science and Technology Museum and a group of Carleton University grad students explores John DeBondt's collection of car advertisements. Exploring this collection of advertisements from four different angles: Luxury, Nature, Technology and life Journeys, this group was a able to present a cultural history that highlights key aspects of the mid 20th century of sports and leisure.

In terms of Canadian sports and leisure the website explores how the ability to drive and explore our own backyard was not only a benefit of having a car but was also a selling point. As stated on the website,
"Car print advertisements throughout the 20th century used elements of nature and the natural world not only as backdrops for their ads, but as a way through which a lifestyle could be marketed to consumers. The following ads characterize nature as a powerful element that can be harnessed and overcome, and at times it is represented as an escape or as a leisurely destination."

One of the advertisements found on "You are what you Drive"
A part of the DeBondt Collection.
Much like the video from last week, these car advertisements were portraying a certain type of outdoor experience, selling nature as well as the automobile. This advertisement from the website is analyzed as "reminiscent of disney" portraying travel as comfortable and luxurious and nature as tamed and controlled. These views on nature were a product of 20th century travel and tourism. As roads, provincial parks and hotels were build within the Canadian landscape,  the image of Canadian wilderness changed as well. Being the in the 'woods' was no longer feared, but rather with our everyday necessities became a place to relax and escape. Cars created a convenient and safe passage way through the Canadian Great Outdoors and became an essential tool as a part of the Canadian summer leisure experience.

So if you are interested in learning more about car culture or travel, check out the website, You Are What You Drive! and all the great advertisements and information on this interesting history.

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