Studies in Local Popular Culture
Publication Year: 2010
Covering Niagara: Studies in Local Popular Culture closely examines some of the myriad forms of popular culture in the Niagara region of Canada. Essays consider common assumptions and definitions of what popular culture is and seek to determine whether broad theories of popular culture can explain or make sense of localized instances of popular culture and the cultural experiences of people in their daily lives.
Among the many topics covered are local bicycle parades and war memorials, cooking and wine culture, radio and movie-going, music stores and music scenes, tourist sites, and blackface minstrel shows. The authors approach their subjects from a variety of critical and historical perspectives and employ a range of methodologies that includes cultural studies, textual analysis, archival research, and participant interviews. Altogether, Covering Niagara provides a richly diverse mapping of the popular culture of a particular area of Canada and demonstrates the complexities of everyday culture.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Cultural Studies
MAPS: Niagara Region, Niagara Urban Areas, Niagara Wine Route
FOREWORD: Reflections on Everyday Life in Niagara
There's a paradox lodged in the very idea of writing about how a particular place shaped one's pop cultural proclivities. At least there is for me. The comforts I derived from things like movies, TV, comics, radio, and records ran in deliberate opposition to particularity. I came to love pop culture because it didn't matter where I was. What I cherished was how it erased ...
Appropriately, given the subject of this book, there are many people who have helped in one fashion or another, and indeed too many to mention by name. Most importantly, we wish to thank the numerous individuals from across the Niagara Region and elsewhere who agreed to be interviewed and to share their memories, stories, and memorabilia (some of which ...
When eight members from various disciplines at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, met in 2001 to discuss the formation of the Popular Culture Niagara Research Group (PCN), it was apparent that research was independently already in progress. As these initial studies proceeded and new topics revealed themselves at a one-day colloquium in April 2002 and ...
Part I: PUBLIC SHOWINGS
Polite Athletics and Bourgeois Gaieties: Toronto Society in Late Victorian Niagara-on-the-Lake
In August of 2007, an entourage of Torontonian bicyclists boarded the "BikeTrain" to Niagara-on-the-Lake for an adventurous weekend of bicycling and wine tourism through the town's celebrated grape and wine district.1 Via Rail Canada's bike service allows twenty-first century, haute bourgeois Torontonian cyclists the opportunity to repeat the leisure pursuits of their late ...
A Promise Set in Stone: St. Catharines Honours a Common Soldier
"Step by deliberate step, pallbearers in brilliant red tunics" brought the soldier "home." Veterans of past conflicts saluted as the coffin passed through the streets of St. Catharines. With them stood civilian onlookers and school-children, many holding flags, lining the streets as the entourage passed. Police officers paid their respects, and an honour guard of firefighters attended ...
Niagara Falls Indian Village: Popular Productions of Cultural Difference
A current visitor to the Canadian city of Niagara Falls, Ontario, probably would notice the residual presence of First Nations peoples in the sights and scenery of the area. These traces include the name Niagara itself, often described in the tourist literature as a derivation of the indigenous peoples' word for the waterfalls (commonly called "the Falls"); the lingering myth of ...
Part II: MOVIES AND MEDIA
Early Movie-Going in Niagara: From Itinerant Shows to Local Institutions, 1896–1910
In August 1910, a moving picture named Scenes in Ontario was advertised playing at the Princess Theatre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The film was part of a Canadian-themed bill, one of three different programs to appear at the Princess that week. At the time, just as movie-going was becoming an everyday routine and a local institution in Niagara Falls and across North ...
"Hollywoodization," Gender, and the Local Press in the 1920s: The Case of Niagara Falls, Ontario
By the 1920s, movies and movie-going were an established form of popular culture produced by an aggressively capitalistic American studio machine. The studios' talent for advertising penetrated local newspapers and widely circulated American fanzines and women's magazines. In his comprehensive study of popular culture in early Lexington, Kentucky, Gregory Waller refers to ...
Where Is the Local in Local Radio?: The Changing Shape of Radio Programming in St. Catharines
Turn on a radio in St. Catharines, Ontario, and you will hear strong broadcast signals coming in across the dial, spanning the spectrum of FM and AM wavelengths and music and talk formats. Five of those signals—four of them from commercial radio stations—originate within the city itself, constituting and constructing the St. Catharines community from inside its ...
Part III: FOOD AND DRINK
Frolics with Food: The Frugal Housewife's Manual by "A.B. of Grimsby"
The Frugal Housewife's Manual (1840) is the first original cookbook to be published in Canada that was not a reprint of a foreign cookbook.1 Written by a Canadian gentlewoman known only as "A. B. of Grimsby," it opens an unexpected window onto the popular culinary culture of the fertile Niagara area of the late 1830s. In our early twenty-first century minds, its title may ...
"A Little More Than a Drink": Public Drinking and Popular Entertainment in Post-Prohibition Niagara, 1927–1944
Situated so close to the United States, the Niagara Region's cultural and social life is often directly affected by economic, social, and political changes "across the river." Never was this connection more clear than when looking at Prohibition-era popular culture. In 1927, the province ended its decade-long dalliance with alcohol prohibition, creating the Liquor Control Board of ...
Niagara's Emerging Wine Culture: From a Countryside of Production to Consumption
Niagara has played a pivotal role in the development of a wine culture in Canada. This was where it all began in the late nineteenth century, and today it is the largest grape-growing and wine-producing area in the country with over ninety estate and boutique wineries. However, talk of a wine culture is surprisingly recent and follows a century of bad Canadian wine, a ...
Part IV: LOCAL CONNECTIONS
"Kenny-ing": Kenny Wheeler and Local Jazz
Kenny Wheeler is from St. Catharines, Ontario—long from, far from. A jazz virtuoso on trumpet and flugel horn and a composer of international repute—the most important musician ever to come out of Niagara—Wheeler left here for London, England, in 1952. Since then, his distinctively accomplished musicianship has graced over 250 recordings, more than twenty as lead ...
The Music Store as a Community Resource
The Niagara Region has a rich and varied musical history. In part because of its location on the border between Canada and the United States, between southern Ontario and western New York, close to major centres such as Toronto and Buffalo and on tour routes between the two, the region has hosted performances by major artists and been subject to the latest musical ...
Back to Our Roots: How Niagara Artists Centre Became Popular Again
Saturday, September 13, 2003, was a defining day for the Niagara Artists Centre (NAC).1 That evening, Lilli-Putting, a site-specific miniature golf installation, opened at the converted warehouse in downtown St. Catharines to a crowd of over 250 local residents, artists, and members. The show combined work by twenty new, long-standing, and founding members and reconciled ...
Part V: BORDERLINE MATTERS
Entertaining Niagara Falls: Minstrel Shows, Theatres, and Popular Pleasures
In most studies, the minstrel show, with its complex historical roots, is identified as a quintessentially American popular form. However, in a review-essay of three studies on minstrelsy, Philip Gura observes that historians "have not taken the time to consider fully the ways in which this popular entertainment spoke to its audiences . . . [and] how deeply one of its main ...
Electricity from Niagara Falls: Popularization of Modern Technology for Domestic Use
In the early decades of the twentieth century, readily available electricity generated by the waters of the Niagara River didn't just sell itself.1 Various groups had to be sold on the use of electricity. People had to learn why they might want electricity and what they could do with it. In this study I begin by establishing why electricity at Niagara Falls was so controversial and ...
Weaving Local Identity: The Niagara Region Tartan and the Invention of Tradition
In the spring of 2007 the Niagara Regional Police Pipe Band (NRPPB) created a new tartan to mark its thirtieth anniversary. The band unveiled the tartan at an annual tug-of-war competition between local Canadian and American police services held on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. Surrounded by the community, tourists, and members of local organizations, ...