Made in Canada

Made in Canada: Craft and Design in the Sixties

edited by ALAN C. ELDER
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Made in Canada
    Book Description:

    The red maple leaf is the quintessential symbol of Canada and the flag that popularized it throughout the world was designed in the 1960s as a result of government legislation aimed at creating a vital, new Canadian national identity through objects, events, and building projects. Made in Canada looks at the development of Canadian craft, design, and culture through ambitious government programs meant to reinforce the country's identity as a modern, sophisticated, and autonomous nation. As well, it documents the demise of a singular notion of modern life and its replacement with a focus on personal identity and consumerism. Changes in the 1960s included the building of modern airports, first space satellite, and new national symbols such as the maple leaf flag. Canadians embraced this heightened sense of individuality and demanded products that were equally individual. As a result pop culture objects sat on cool furniture influenced by Scandinavian modernism while handmade crafts reflected a growing concern with environmental issues. Expo 67 was the turning point - one final expression of optimism before Canada was rocked by social change and varied struggles for identity. Made in Canada examines national dreams and expressions of individuality in thoughtful and illuminating essays. Contributors include Sandra Alfoldy (NSCAD University), Paul Bourassa (Musée des beaux-arts de Québec), Brent Cordner (designer and educator, Toronto), Douglas Coupland (artist and author, Vancouver), Bernard Flaman (Government of Saskatchewan), Rachel Gotlieb (freelance curator and writer, Toronto), Michael Large (Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning), and Michael Prokopow (Design Exchange).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7274-4
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Douglas Coupland
  4. FOREWORD: Design Exchange
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Samantha Sannella

    Design Exchange (DX) is honoured to participate in this important publication.Made in Canada: Craft and Design in the Sixtiesis an exciting initiative and reflects an important part of Canada’s design history.

    Our collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Civilization helps us fulfil our mandate: first, to build public awareness of the importance of design in creating Canada’s cultural identity, and second, to increase the number of globally competitive products and services designed and made in Canada.

    DX has three areas of focus: museum, education and research. In our Resource Centre, we are delighted to house the only permanent...

  5. FOREWORD: Canadian Museum of Civilization
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Victor Rabinovitch

    The sixties were years of dynamic change in Canada, brought about in part through a creative interplay between many individuals, organizations, and goverments. This publication and the exhibition that it documents,Cool ’60s Design, revisits the spirit of innovation and collaboration that marked this exceptional time.

    In 2002 the Canadian Museum of Civilization joined a multi-institutional partnership to re-examine the sixties. Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the McCord Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography joined with us to present a series of events on this exciting decade. The...

  6. INTRODUCTION: Canada in the Sixties – “It can do almost anything”
    (pp. 3-14)

    While there is much discussion about the birth date of an independent Canadian nation - some say it was Confederation, others Vimy Ridge, and still others World War II - many cultural historians agree that the nation came of age in the sixties. And at the same time as the nation came of age, so did the baby boomers. The exuberant naiveté of sixties youth culture lost its innocence during the unrest of the decade’s latter years.

    Pierre Berton has lamented that 1967 was Canada’s “Last Good Year.”² Canada’s centennial celebrations had projected an image of a modern Canadian nation...

    • 1 When “la Dolce Vita” Met “True Canadianism”: Canadian Airports in the Sixties
      (pp. 17-28)

      A half-century ago, Canada’s air terminals were an embarrassment to the nation. According to a 1957Globe and Mailarticle quoted two years later inCanadian Architect:

      Canada’s international airports, “which provide many through-travellers with their only view of Canada and many immigrants with their first look at this prosperous country, are squalid.” Malton airport in Toronto was a “national disgrace”; Dorval, “tight, tawdry, tumultuous”; Gander, “a poor advertisement for Canada”; Winnipeg, “totally inadequate.”¹

      Canadian Architectalso quotedSaturday Nightmagazine’s 1958 citation that Canadian airport buildings were “undoubtedly among the world’s worst,”²

      Between 1952 and 1968, Canada’s Department of...

    • 2 “Instant World”: Canada and Space-Age Design in the Sixties
      (pp. 29-39)

      During the sixties, not only did Canada make significant contributions to the development of communication satellite technology through government programs, but it also led in communications theory, championed by none other than the internationally published media guru Marshall McLuhan. Reflecting this new preoccupation with the future, many of Canada’s designers drew inspiration from the space race and directed their innovations towards the burgeoning youth market and Hollywood.

      By the end of the decade and in the early seventies, disillusionment had set in. The space-age movement ultimately failed, breaking its promise to deliver the better world of the future.¹

      In the...

    • 3 A Flag for Canada
      (pp. 40-50)

      In 1964 Lester B, Pearson, Canada's fourteenth prime minister, spoke of the country's need for its own national symbol:

      I believe most sincerely that it is now time for Canadians to unfurl a flag that is truly distinctive and truly national in character; as Canadian as the maple leaf which should be its dominant design, a flag easily identifiable as Canada's; a flag which cannot be mistaken for the emblem of any other country; a flag of the future which honours also the past; Canada's own and only Canada’s.¹

      The maple leaf flag is the most nationally significant (and destined...

    • 4 Excellence, Inventiveness, and Variety: Canadian Fine Crafts at Expo 67
      (pp. 53-64)

      Moncrieff Williamson had a vision for Canadian crafts, which had long been considered to be the preserve of ethnographers and women’s groups. The crafts exhibited at Expo 67, the Montreal World’s Fair, would give a new impression of Canadian work - as contemporary, sophisticated, and hip. In his role as crafts selection commissioner general to the Canadian Government Pavilion at Expo 67, Williamson succeeded in producing what was possibly Canada’s most influential craft exhibition,Canadian Fine Crafts. However, this story is as much an account of the struggle to find a permanent home for Canada’s crafts, one that would highlight...

    • 5 Habitat ’67: View from the Inside
      (pp. 65-78)

      Surely no Canadian architectural project has ever received as much media attention as Habitat ’67.¹ Moshe Safdie’s design - an application of a three-dimensional modular building system - is mentioned in every history of contemporary architecture. Benefiting from the extraordinary showcase of Expo 67, the Montreal World’s Fair, Habitat ’67 became one of the symbols of the avant-garde at the event, the theme of which was “Man and His World.” Safdie attempted to put into practice the ideas he had put forward in a thesis he had written at McGill University in 1960 concerning a “system of spatial urbanization with...

    • 6 Capsules: Plastic and Utopia
      (pp. 81-92)

      In an exultant display of technological and artistic fruition, the world’s nations gathered at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851. By ship and by carriage, travellers arrived in London to witness the bounty of commerce installed in the prefabricated framework of an enormous vitrine. Countless ventures were launched promising the delivery of art and technology under the stewardship of God, an unlikely synthesis of faith and technology,¹ Pressed into the surface of a rubber tablet given to Prince Albert, the words of William Cowper epitomized the event:

      ... The band of commerce was design’d

      T’ associate all the branches...

    • 7 Deign to Be Modern: Canada’s Taste for Scandinavian Design in the Sixties
      (pp. 93-105)

      In the fall of 1958, the Junior Auxiliary of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Association held an exhibition calledThe Decorators’ Showat the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Organized to raise money for the orchestra, the event was, as the small program explained to its readers, “a chance of presenting to you the work of many of Ontario’s leading Interior Designers.” Composed of sixteen vignettes, or small displays of furnishings and accessories, and eight large themed “rooms,” the exhibition was a clear indication of the prevailing, overwhelmingly conservative tastes of the Toronto establishment.¹ Of the twenty-four display spaces at the exhibit,...

    • 8 When Counterculture Went Mainstream
      (pp. 106-116)

      The image is a familiar one: the location appears rural, if not wild; the hair, long and slightly dishevelled; the footwear is open-toed – probably handmade; a can of tobacco sits on a rock – rolling papers can’t be far away. At the front of the image, a piece of macrame supported from a tree branch hangs over the opening in the rocks, announcing the location of a rudimentary shelter (Figure 8.1).

      The image captured in the photograph appears to be stereotypical of Canada’s counterculture from the sixties. It is a photograph of the generation’s youths, those that Arthur Lower claimed would...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 117-128)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 129-129)