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History of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism in Northern BC

This guide highlights archival resources related to the history of outdoor recreation and tourism across Northern and Central BC.

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Northern BC Archives & Special Collections

Hours of Service:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM
Closed Weekends & Statutory Holidays

Location: UNBC Prince George
Geoffrey R. Weller Library
4th Floor (Room 5-423)

Community Advertising

Early and mid-20th century community advertising aimed at tourists (and potential settlers) were published as pamphlets, booklets, guidebooks, schedules, maps, and other ephemera for small settlements throughout British Columbia. Due to their ephemeral nature, these materials are now a rare yet important historical record found in archives, Special Collections, and private collections.

Listed below are examples of these type of publications from the holdings of Northern BC Archives & Special Collections.

To find more relating to communities you are researching, search the Archives Database using names of the community (including past historical names) or its general geographical area. Search the Library Catalogue and limit your search location to "Archives/Special Collections".

Road Maps

"By the late 1920s oil companies, motor clubs, and state governments had adopted the widespread free distribution of road maps as one of their major marketing tools...The promotional use of maps by automobile and highway interests nevertheless relied on both their fleeting, mundane practicality and their capacity to attach personal or cultural meaning to automobile travel. The advertising content (artwork and accompanying text) of promotional road maps followed rhetorical strategies that in one sense paralleled, and were perhaps informed by, those developed by magazine advertisements beginning in the 1890s and refined in the 1920s. It associated automobile tourism and the consumption of automobile goods and services with refinement, patriotism, family responsibility, and other positive values. It was important also that these were functioning maps. Their publishers and distributors recognized that consumption of whatever they were selling—be it gasoline, tires, motels, or roadside attractions—depended upon the ability of motoring tourists to travel easily and widely. So, the provision of maps was not just a medium for promotion, but also a precondition to consumption." -- from "AMERICAN PROMOTIONAL ROAD MAPPING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY" by James R. Akerman

Promotional Films

"During the years 1941 through 1965, films about B.C. were generated by a variety of institutions and producers. Agencies of the British Columbia government made promotional and educational films, largely dealing with the province's scenic and recreational attractions and industrial versatility. The federal government's National Film Board documented the history, economy, rural life and cultural heritage of the province, as well as preparing recreation and travel shorts....The most obvious application of film to government needs was in the realm of publicity and the promotion of tourism. The Bureau of Provincial Information, which was responsible for this activity in the 1930s, distributed films purchased from the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau. In 1937 the Bureau of Provincial Information was absorbed by the Bureau of Industrial and Tourist Development, part of the newly-created Department of Trade and Industry. In 1938, the office became the British Columbia Government Travel Bureau." - from "MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, 1941-1965" by Dennis J. Duffy

Many of these promotional films have been digitized and are available on YouTube, including films from BC Archives (Royal BC Museum). Try searching with keywords relating to your areas of research.

Northern BC Archives has a few promotional and educational films including 2016. - The Mark of Progress. This is a 1959 BC Forest Service educational/promotional film about the forest industry in British Columbia with a focus on Prince George. It also includes a 2 minute segment promoting the city of Prince George.