Advertising in the United States, 1900-1920s

National Archives of Canada

This bronze medallion was given to American farm journalists who toured western Canada in August-September 1905 at the invitation of the Western Canadian Immigration Association, a private group of land agents. A great many tours were organized by Canadian government officials, who wined and dined large numbers of American journalists, newspaper editors and agricultural scientists, in anticipation of positive write-ups on The Last Best West.

Enthusiastic comments by American farm journalists and academics were quoted back to Americans in various immigration pamphlets, including the 1906 publication, Twentieth Century Canada and Atlas of Western Canada. Here is one example:

From the middle of June to the middle of July there are over two hours more daylight in every twenty-four hours than in Nebraska. Prof. Thomas Shaw of Minnesota, than whom there is no better authority, says: "The main reason why Western Canada wheat grows to such perfection consists in the longer period of sunshine it gets every day.

"We saw more and larger bands of cattle and sheep grazing in Saskatchewan and Alberta than we ever saw on the western plains of the United States. One band of cattle, numbering 5,000 head, were grazing on the rich grass, and sheep without number".

- H.E. Heath, in Nebraska Farmer.

By 1906, when Twentieth Century Canada was published, Frank Oliver had succeeded Clifford Sifton as Minister. Oliver continued the vigorous advertising campaign for American immigrants begun by his predecessor.

This descriptive atlas, as it was called, was chock-full of advice for Americans on:

The Time to Emigrate (In the early spring)
As to Buying Land (Never purchase without a personal inspection. The nearer to a railway station the better)
The Man With $1,000. (Can make a fair start. But men with from $500 to $1,000 cash should rent for the first year)
Young Men With $250. Or Less (should work for wages for a year)
Information about housing, schools and churches was included to help persuade the farmer's family that there were reassuring similarities between their own communities and western Canada. Most information seemed practical and reliable.
National Library of Canada

Twentieth Century Canada differed from Sifton-era publications only where the prairie winters were concerned. Sifton preferred to ignore the subject. Oliver's publication referred to "deliberate and malicious misrepresentation regarding the climatic conditions of Canada".

Oliver's publication continued:

Dry Atmosphere: During the winter warm woollen clothing is necessary. Because of the dryness of the inland climate, the cold is much less noticeable than a stranger might expect. Less snow falls on the prairies than in the East, and on account of the dryness of the air, it brushes off one's coat like dust.

Everywhere the appearance of snow is hailed as seasonable and beneficial. Sleighing parties of pleasure are arranged for the period of the full moon, and the sound of the sleigh bells is a merry one. The snow protects the autumn-sown wheat from the frost and aids ... the farmer in hauling his produce to market, and so contributes alike to business and pleasure.
Perhaps this poetic description was written for a British edition of Twentieth Century Canada, and somehow made it into the American edition.

  Frank Oliver
National Archives of Canada

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The Early Years, 1870-1897 Advertising in Britain, 1900-1916 Advertising in Europe, 1900-1920s Presenting newcomers to Canada, 1910-1911 Advertising in the United States, 1900-1920s Advertising in Britain, 1920s