As we conclude the first week of Olympic competition in Vancouver, I was reminded of a piece of advertising set in Canada several decades ago. In 1929, a magazine ad appeared in such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Literary Digest that showed a dedicated deliveryman carrying a wooden crate of Coca-Cola that had arrived at its destination by dog sled. The artwork was created by the famous illustrator Haddon Sundblom before he had started to develop his classic Santa Claus paintings in the 1930s.The caption under the illustration identified the delivery location as the Peace River Country of Canada.
Several weeks ago, Professor Jonathan Swainger of the University of Northern British Columbia was able to put some context around the selection of this location as the focus of the advertising. It seems that the Peace River Country, located in Northwest Alberta and Northeast British Columbia, was the last of the free homesteads in Canada following World War I. In many respects it was the last frontier, an area described in newspaper accounts as being equal to anyplace in Canada for soil and climate.Thousands of individuals, including Americans seeking new farming opportunities, flocked to this region.
Certainly, it was the romance surrounding the Peace River Country that influenced the identification of that region in the magazine ad. However, the ad was not greeted with universal approval. In an article dated December 13, 1929 in the Grande Prairie Herald, J.B. Yule, the News Editor of that publication, thought that the picture and the accompanying text was ridiculous. He suggested that in the Far North men would be seeking a more potent beverage than Coca-Cola. He writes: "This might be all right in the effete East, but in the great north country, where men are men, travelers wouldn't even hesitate if there was nothing stronger than Coca-Cola."
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