Central and Northern British Columbia were closely associated with the province’s prosperity, optimism, and culture of abundance – what Jean Barman has called “the good life” – during the first three decades after World War Two. These regions contained important engines of the provincial economy, and the pace and scale of changes associated with modernization were especially obvious there: new infrastructure; rapid population growth; new kinds of work, businesses, and cultural amenities; and greater socio-economic stability in many communities (especially emerging regional centres such as Prince George, Quesnel, and Smithers).
Car culture epitomized modernization and “the good life” in Central and Northern BC, both concretely and symbolically, in the form of new automobiles and new and improved roads. However, the proliferation and entrenchment of car culture in those regions was not a story of smooth, linear progress. The papers in this session reveal that numerous unanticipated complications and consequences resulted from rising automobile ownership, higher traffic volumes, and motoring-dependent patterns of business and leisure. Together, they complicate our understanding of BC’s postwar gender history, urban history, and histories of small business and popular culture.