DAWSON, Michael

Author Tags: Business, Law

While living in Port Coquitlam, Michael Dawson published The Mountie: From Dime Novel To Disney (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1998). It was followed by Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture 1890-1970 (UBC Press, 2004), for which Dawson received third prize in the 22nd annual BC Historical Federation Book Prizes competition. [See below]

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Contesting Clio's Craft: New Directions and Debates in Canadian History
Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970

[BCBW 2005] "Law" "Business"

Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture 1890-1970

First you must catch your American before you can sell him anything.... We cannot play golf and drink afternoon tea and expect these people to send us their money by registered mail.”—B.C. Premier Simon Fraser Tolmie in 1930

Apparently Gordon Campbell agrees. Our bid to hold the 2010 Winter Olympics was spearheaded by the premier’s dynamic real estate developer friend Jack Poole and, like Expo 86, its legitimacy will proceed in tandem with the lure of economic growth and investment. In the next five years, all loyal British Columbians will be called upon to their economic duty and help market our neck of the woods to the rest of the planet. Hence the timing of Michael Dawson’s Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture 1890-1970 (UBC Press $85) seems ideal. Statistics and graphs are provided, including one showing how visitors in automobiles from the U.S. increased from 270,000 in 1926 to more than three million in 1971. Negative aspects of tourism are rarely considered. Dawson’s study strictly concerns the agendae of tourism marketers. Selling British Columbia culminates with ‘Operation Daffodil’, a quasi-militaristic invasion of Alberta by Chamber of Commerce types, enticing Albertans to the balmy coast with daffodils. “Between 1920 and 1970,” Dawson writes, “tourism was effectively incorporated into North America’s growing culture of consumption.” The state has now supplanted private industry as the prime marketing force.There are now programs to ensure taxi drivers aren’t scruffy and our license plates are mini billboards proclaiming ‘Beautiful British Columbia.’ Although he has permitted himself a few humorous asides, Dawson stops short of speculating how we might best collectively tart ourselves up for 2010. Selling British Columbia is strictly about the past, so our notion as to how we can identify ourselves as a distinctive culture—beyond scenery, the Empress Hotel, whales and totem poles—remains as fuzzy as ever.

Dawson showcases publicity materials and collects some of the terms that have been used to help attract visitors to the Pacific Northwest. These include:
The Land of Simon Fraser
Land of Pleasure Cruises
Canada’s Colour-Camera Country
Evergreen Playground
The Land Where The Apples Grow
The World’s Greatest Out Of Doors
The Vacation Land That Has Everything
The Switzerland of America

[BCBW 2004] "Tourism"