Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts on the 'West'

"The image [of a single western region] has spread from journalism to youth culture. This is not the old square-dance-and-string-tie image of the stampede and the farm, but a new version featuring baseball caps and snowboards. One hears now of distinctions between a "west style" and and an "Ont style" (for Ontario)--meaning that in the West one encounters greater informality in dress and pastime, but also a superior, outdoors-and-exercise youth culture. The West has come to be defined by Calgary and Vancouver, by the Mountain Equipment Co-op and Kananaskis and Whistler, by Starbucks and Second Cups." From "Why the Prairies Don't Exist" by Gerald Friesen. Thoughts? Does this define your "West"? Or mine? Not the mythical West of the past, but the West that we live today? I would say it comes pretty close to what we live right now. Outdoor activity; the social and environmental values taken up by M.E.C.; by designer coffee (for better or worse). Slightly consumerist, but not entirely. It seems particularly fitting with the upcoming Olympics and the past Olympics that still at least partly define Calgary. But there is the crux. I can say that this fits, but I live in Calgary. Somehow I doubt that someone living in, say Alix, Alberta, or Neilburgh Saskatchewan, or for that matter, For MacMurray, would agree with this ideal at all. So, it defines MY West at present but I'm afraid Dr. Friesen, you've far from outlined the West of 2009 of the majority of Albertans or Western Canadians.

2 comments:

Mor said...

Send Mr. Friesen a copy of Grainews to enlighten him further. He's pretty one-dimensional.

ivh said...

I would say that that same description would describe a lot of my coworkers here in Ottawa. But... most of the people that I am in language training with are from the West. Hmm... maybe he's onto something!

I think that designer coffee is a urban thing, not a West thing. But I can kind of buy his outdoorsy analysis. The proximity of the Rockies, the geography of the West, and the makes it a little more outdoorsy than the urbanites elsewhere. However, he is painting in broad strokes.