The Coronation Arch

Looking through old magazines I often come across stuff that makes me laugh. Here is popular writer, Irvin S. Cobb promoting (no doubt, with pay) Canada as vacation spot. From Colliers, March 6, 1937:

Now Cobb wasn’t the only American saying this. H. P. Lovecraft, master of terror fiction, wrote a monograph on his trips to Montreal. “A Description of the Town of Quebeck in New France, Lately Added to His Britannick Majesty’s Dominions” (1933) won’t give you the creepy-crawlies but it is not a bad piece on historic Quebec. Lovecraft wasn’t paid to write this, nor did it get much circulation until recently.

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But writers promoting Canada, both for vacationing and for immigration, is not a new story. James Curwood, the writer of Kazan the Wolf Dog and The Grizzly, was paid by the Canadian government in 1906. A Maclean’s article called the arrangement: ” a low-paid, short-lived publicity job with Canada’s department of immigration” which he turned into a bestselling writing career. M. V. MacInness paid “a payment of two hundred dollars to Curwood ‘covering salary, accommodation, travel expenses and equipment, for writing articles for papers and magazines to promote immigration'”. That was the first year. The second he got $204 and the third, the much better sum of $1,552.31.

As a kid, living in Dawson Creek, BC for a time, I can recall many American tourists during the summer. (Not so strange, they stay away in winter.) Dawson Creek is Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, so many were headed to the beautiful country north of us. We used to “collect” license plates, writing down all the different states we saw over the holidays. We never did get all 50. It was fun and the visitors were usually friendly and great to talk to. Canadian and Americans have always shared a bond that way. In recent years, with immigration on everybody’s mind, the talk of walls, trade agreements, etc., it is nice to remember that feeling and that bond.