Saturday, May 26, 2012

Landscape Artists Contribute to Canada's Image Abroad

Many of the artists who represented western landscape, including Marmaduke Mathews, William McFarlane Notman, and George Horne Russell, travelled west by railway from eastern and central Canada on free passes provided  by William Van Horne, general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company from 1885-1888 and president from 1888 to 1899.  At this time the income generated from the freight and passenger services was inadequate to pay the company's construction debts and operating expenses.  To solve this problem Van Horne organized an intensive immigration campaign as a means of selling the land which the federal government had given his company in exchange for building the transcontinental line. While most of the land was sold to immigrant farmers, Van Horne also set up a tourist industry along the western CPR route in the form of luxury hotels and other attractions, beginning at Banff.  In addition he supported the creation of government controlled  wilderness parks in some areas. To advertise the CPR's tourist services, Van Horne commissioned work from some of the artists he gave free passage to the west.   He used this art which portrayed the wilderness experience, to illustrate posters, brochures and displays and to support tourism indirectly through public exhibitions and purchases. Van Horne saw himself as altruistic  - a nomad taming the wilderness for the benefit of the collective - since he believed that by inspiring national sentiment, landscape art could contribute to the well being of the nation.

pp 151-152
Picturing the Land, Narrating Tales in Canadian Landscape Art 1500-1950.
Marylin J. McKay
McGill Queen's University Press
Montreal, Kingston, London, Ithaca
ISBN 978-0-7735-3817-7

The above poster came from the CPR website.  Please click here to visit their rich store of poster art.
Please note that the above poster is not to be downloaded for commercial purposes.

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