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Thurs May 6 detailed schedule

May 6, 2021 | Presentation 1

You Know What They Say About Big Trucks: Pickup Trucks and Resource Masculinity in BC’s Central Interior, 1950-1970

Abstract

This paper examines the growing popularity of the pickup truck during the late Baby Boom in BC’s Central Interior. As natural resource development and masculine identity became more intertwined in the region, so too did the ownership and advertising of pickup trucks, ultimately demonstrating a regionally distinct concept of automobility and cultural development.

It does not take more than a short drive in any community in the central interior of British Columbia to notice the local obsession with large four-wheel-drive vehicles. One might assume that given the region’s rugged and often undeveloped landscape, trucks have always been a popular – even natural – choice for anyone looking to escape into the wilderness or use their vehicle for work. However, examining photography, advertisements, and popular publications such as Cariboo Digest from the early 1950s indicate that trucks were only rarely used by the average motorist. While the pickup may have historically been associated with resource extraction or manual labour work, it took on a new meaning during the second half of North America’s Baby Boom, when it was increasingly advertised as a way to bolster what can referred to as ‘resource masculinity.’ This paper traces how during the 1950s and 1960s the changing relationship between automobility and resource extraction in BC’s Central Interior led to a distinctly masculine vision of the pickup truck. By the mid 1960s, the pickup was no longer considered to be simply a tool for industry. It was also a powerful symbol whereby white-collar men of the Central Interior could assert their manliness; a symbol which would help in expanding the consumer popularity of the once utilitarian pickup.

 

Presenter(s)

Nolan Foster (University of Northern British Columbia, BA, History student)


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