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Sunday, January 29, 2012

I for one am stoked! Tourism and History in Bruce-Grey-Simcoe

Have we snow? I offer three words. 'Wax up dudes.'

So says historical figure John Graves Simcoe in Bruce-Grey-Simcoe's new advertisement campaign, highlighting this area of Ontario's yearly winter wonderland. In the ad on the radio John Graves Simcoe is purportedly raving about the ski conditions in the county that was named after him. If you look at the advertisement campaign on the web, Sir James Bruce, 2nd Earl Charles Grey and Lt. Governor Simcoe all have something to say. An historic photo of them has had ski gear added to it, and the photo speaks. Simcoe's contribution is mentioned above. Bruce says 'Another robust winter is upon us. I for one am stoked!,' and Grey says 'I quite fancy skiing. Especially the Apres."

Many tourist sites are also historic sites. If you think of a location and you are trying to think of what there is to see there, often you think of the old structures and the museums, the sites where specific events happened. No? Just me? Well anyway, for the sites where it is less about seeing and more about doing, like skiing and theme parks and mini putt, history perhaps plays less of a role. However those kind of tourist sites often break out around historic locations, because those places have been interesting to generations of people, like Niagara Falls, or Wasaga Beach. Skiing is a little different though. The hills are not centres where people have been coming and going for centuries, like harbours, or river intersections. But it is the best place for skiing.

I thought the campaign was so interesting. First of all, people are actually going to engage with historical photos of some of Ontario's first founders. These are not people that are well-known. I am familiar with John Graves Simcoe myself, but I even have not done a lot of research about Charles Grey or James Bruce. People are still not going to know who they are, but they are at least going to realize that the county's are named after specific people. This is the most interesting kind of historical education, because it will open the door for certain people to ask more questions, and it brings that tourist approved historical significance to a tourist attraction devoid of that kind of connection or cultural significance.

How effective it will be as an advertisement campaign is harder to judge. I will certainly remember it. And it's quite clever.

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