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Canada’s Magnificent Scenic Wonders 12

CanadianTire2

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

A few months ago I came across this Canadian Tire Corporation poster from a 1936 store catalogue and I snapped a photo of it on my phone. The poster had been all but forgotten when it resurfaced again while I was sorting through the photos on my phone.

The ad reads:

“SEE CANADA FIRST”

YOUR Motor Car is the key to the magnificent scenic wonders of this vast land of ours. It is your most economical and enjoyable form of transportation.

Let us help  you keep it fit and new – economically and safely. This catalogue fully demonstrates our ability to do so.

Although I doubt that a motor car was the most “economical” form of transportation in 1936, there is little doubt in my mind that it was the most “enjoyable” form of transportation at that time. Motor cars were relatively new, fast, and there were few other cars on the roads compared to present-day Canada.

These factors would have made motor cars a very enjoyable mode of transportation.

Little did they know in 1936 that people would love driving so much that they would structure their entire lives around their cars, isolating themselves from their communities and eliminating any prerequisite of social interaction with their neighbours.

They probably had no idea that people would end up spending a significant portion of their income just to pay for those “economical” motor cars, or that the government would be required to socialize the car industry just to make motor cars somewhat affordable to the masses.

Or that people would spend hours every day sitting in their car – often moving at walking speed – in traffic jams up to 100KM long.

Or that our “love” for automobiles would cause an oil spill that would release 53,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico for three months straight – or kill hundreds of thousands of people in wars to control overseas sources of oil.

In 1936 they certainly wouldn’t have known that motor car collisions would eventually end up killing 1.2 million people every year worldwide, or that an additional 2 million people would die each year from the air pollution primarily caused by motor cars.

It was probably unimaginable to someone in 1936 that our cities would be torn up and almost every last inch of space would be allocated to motor cars – making walking or bicycling in the city uncomfortable and tense.

Or that their motor cars would cause all of their favourite local shops to close down in favour of large suburban parking lots and mega super-stores.

And what about road rage in 1936? What reason would someone have to get angry while enjoying their new motor cars with very few other people sharing the roads?

The term “road rage” itself didn’t surface until 5 decades thereafter, originating from a Los Angeles news broadcast that discussed a series of shootings that occurred on Los Angeles freeways from 1987 to 1988.

Even amidst all of these negative aspects of our car culture, people still love their cars. Car company advertising plays a significant role in making cars appear to be safe and enjoyable – using closed, empty street scenes in the city, or empty winding roads in the country (scenes which most people will rarely experience but for their imagination as they kill time while stuck in traffic congestion).

No, I don’t need a motor car to discover the “magnificent scenic wonders” of Canada.

Here are a few photos of Canada’s magnificent scenery that I have discovered by bike and kayak:

High Park Baby Geese

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

High Park Cherry Blossoms

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Toronto Island car-free community

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Toronto Island baby duck

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Toronto island swans

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Toronto Island baby swan

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Mojo in Toronto harbour

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Sunset on St. Lawrence river

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

i share the road

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  • http://cyclingwithoutahelmet.blogspot.com/ Aliannack

    Did you take your dog on a kayak?? Adorable! Also, the baby swan. Thank you. :)

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I frequently take my dog on the kayak :) She loves it.

  • http://cyclingwithoutahelmet.blogspot.com/ Aliannack

    Did you take your dog on a kayak?? Adorable! Also, the baby swan. Thank you. :)

  • http://hanlonsrzr.blogspot.com/ Antisthenes

    One more reason I am not a cat person.

  • http://hanlonsrzr.blogspot.com/ Antisthenes

    One more reason I am not a cat person.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    I frequently take my dog on the kayak :) She loves it.

  • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    I could see in 1936 a car being a relatively new item which would make travel enjoyable (I highly doubt economical).

    Today though? I get a kick out of these car commercials where they have just one car racing through a city. Few places (no matter the size) are not effected by terrible traffic.

    For myself, bikes & trains are the best way to see things.

    • Tkeen

      I expect they were more economical back then. After all, cars were built to last and gas was no doubt a lot cheaper, even when adjusting for inflation. But they must have been seen as a toy for the rich, since that ad is from the ‘Dirty Thirties’. Many people still used horse-drawn buggies to get around, and if you could once afford a car but couldn’t anymore – being financially wiped out, and all – you could get a horse or two to pull your car. (They called horse-drawn cars ‘Bennet Buggies’, named after the PM at the time.)

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    I could see in 1936 a car being a relatively new item which would make travel enjoyable (I highly doubt economical).

    Today though? I get a kick out of these car commercials where they have just one car racing through a city. Few places (no matter the size) are not effected by terrible traffic.

    For myself, bikes & trains are the best way to see things.

  • Tallycyclist

    Great article James. I have the same kind of thoughts when I think about how our cities and burbs have become so auto-centric and unfriendly to other types of transport. Unfortunately the change has been gradual enough that there weren’t huge outcries to change this in most places. And instead of venting frustration at the civil engineers and responsible governing bodies, people tend to just release all the road rage on each other, especially vulnerable commuters.

    The way drivers behave on the road, the dangerous and high speed traffic roads and stress involved to get around on any mode of transport-that must all be inconceivable to people from 60, 70 or 100 years ago. And the way this new generation is being raised by and large is only going to exacerbate things unless some visionary change is implemented.

  • Tallycyclist

    Great article James. I have the same kind of thoughts when I think about how our cities and burbs have become so auto-centric and unfriendly to other types of transport. Unfortunately the change has been gradual enough that there weren’t huge outcries to change this in most places. And instead of venting frustration at the civil engineers and responsible governing bodies, people tend to just release all the road rage on each other, especially vulnerable commuters.

    The way drivers behave on the road, the dangerous and high speed traffic roads and stress involved to get around on any mode of transport-that must all be inconceivable to people from 60, 70 or 100 years ago. And the way this new generation is being raised by and large is only going to exacerbate things unless some visionary change is implemented.

  • Tkeen

    I expect they were more economical back then. After all, cars were built to last and gas was no doubt a lot cheaper, even when adjusting for inflation. But they must have been seen as a toy for the rich, since that ad is from the ‘Dirty Thirties’. Many people still used horse-drawn buggies to get around, and if you could once afford a car but couldn’t anymore – being financially wiped out, and all – you could get a horse or two to pull your car. (They called horse-drawn cars ‘Bennet Buggies’, named after the PM at the time.)