Most of our country is wild and unspoiled : advertising gender, race, and empire for Western Canada, 1867-1911
Immigration handbooks published by British, Canadian, and provincial institutions at the close of the nineteenth century were designed to encourage resettlement and constitute one aspect of the large scale immigration campaigns embarked upon by the federal government to colonize Western Canada. This thesis utilizes these handbooks in order to rethink not only the advertising campaigns of the Canadian government, but also to reconsider the interconnectedness of Canada and Great Britain's imperial pasts. Although they were produced to encourage migration from metropole to colony, immigration handbooks, this thesis argues, became the lens through which Canada's reverse imperial gaze was cast. Because immigration handbooks simultaneously reflected and constituted the imperial world of which they were a part, they provided intending immigrants with information not only about Western Canada, but also about the empire writ large. Moreover, these handbooks suggest how metropolitan ideals, colonial realities and the tensions that arose in-between were understood, maintained, and refracted by the peripheries. Immigration handbooks provided intending immigrants with practical and useful information, while simultaneously carving out the gender and racial ideals that were deemed appropriate for this edge of the British Empire.