Ahoy ahoy!

As has been discussed at length beforehand, so much of Canadian art was about trying to identify a Canadian identity.  However, this focus on Canada as a country unto itself began to be more central to Canadians everywhere following World War One.  Many citizens of Canada were now second or even third generation Canadians, with very few authentic ties to their mother countries.  Establishing ourselves as a nation was a business, and the search for Canadian symbols began.

The establishment of the Royal Canadian Mint in 1931 marked the establishment of a uniquely Canadian currency, with designs that are related to Canadian identity.  Emmanuel Hahn was mentioned as one of the original designers of some of Canada’s currency, the design on both the dime and quarter are still in use today (the Bluenose and the Caribou).  Our sense of nationalism was developing and the currency designs reflected this.

The other interesting aspect of Canadian culture was the development of our own popular culture icons.  In 1934, at the height of the Depression, the Dionne quintuplets were born in Ontario.  These five little girls were an instant sensation, though the methods involved with their upbringing were highly questionable.  As a result, these five little girls were a new Canadian symbol and often used in advertisements of the times such as these:

Palmolive advertisement

Karo Syrup advertisement

There were even dolls made of the quintuplets, taking the use of the quintuplets image to a whole new level.

Dionne quintuplet dolls

The use of the quints image in advertising was only the beginning of Canadian symbolism being used to promote products.  Over the years, various different Canadian images have been used in advertising in a hope to sell their product, and we can still see it today in very familiar beer commercials.

I felt like this commercial was the most clear example of the use of Canadian imagery.  I’m sure the Group of Seven would approve of the heavy focus on Canadian landscape being the factor in shaping who we are as a nation!

The nation debate still continues today as a point of contention in the concept of Canadian identity.  The art canon itself is undergoing changes related to the revisitation of First Nations art and the inclusion of artists from marginalized groups whose works were not recognized in the past.  Additionally, we also learned that the examination of Canadian sculpture is a largely bypassed area when it comes to Canadian art history, so there is a whole other medium that needs to be explored.  What is being a Canadian to you?

Thats all for now!