The Tourist Gaze on Atlantic Canada

When you think of “Atlantic Canada” what do you see? Traditionally one might have imagined light houses, quaint cottages perched on rocks above crashing waves, peg-legged fishermen and the best lobster restaurants in the country. But now consider this, is that vision of the Canadian East Coast still as enticing to you, as a tourist, as it might once have been? Does anyone really believe that the, as Jerry Bannister calls it, anti-modern vision actually applies to the region, or any region, today?

Bannister is a professor teaching Canadian History at Dalhousie University. He grew up in Newfoundland, and spent some time in Ontario studying at the University of Toronto before returning to the East Coast to teach. On Wednesday November 14 he will be in Bata Library’s film theatre room to deliver a lecture titled “Morton Lecture – The Tourist Gaze Reconsidered: Heritage, Politics, and Memory in Atlantic Canada”.

Arthur spoke with Bannister to find out a little more about what this lecture would entail. Truly the title is accurate; the ideas start with questions about what tourists want and how they view destinations (aka the tourist gaze), but moves out to examine how heritage is a factor in tourism, and how because heritage is a factor it is manipulated by politics and memory.

Bannister also takes this discussion out from simply Nova Scotia to the rest of Canada. While he has special interest invested in the East Coast and it provides great grounds for the start of a discussion, the ideas of a manipulated heritage for the sake of tourism do apply across Canada. Don’t believe it? How many “Heritage Moment” have you seen about the War of 1812? As Ontarian’s we may not get super excited about them, but how far should the Government really go in assigning us a tourism-worthy heritage?

All in all, be you a tourist or a homebody, from the East Coast, the West Coast, or a different area entirely, this lecture shall pose and answer some interesting discussion about heritage, politics, and memory. See you there!