Towards Canada’s 150th

Written by  //  May 2, 2015  //  Canada, Montreal  //  No comments

Canada’s 150th birthday will be ‘partisan’ bash without anniversary agency: NDP
The Conservative government’s rejection of a proposed independent agency to organize Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 has a leading opposition critic accusing Heritage Minister James Moore of planning a “partisan political spectacle” to mark the anniversary.
The proposed Canadian Museum of History is intended to become the hub of a vast artifact-sharing network among small and large museums across the country. Moore also stated in his response to the heritage committee’s report on the 150th anniversary that the transformed Gatineau institution will highlight “the national achievements and accomplishments that have shaped our great country.”
The Canadian Association of University Teachers recently launched a “Canada’s Past Matters” campaign, condemning the Conservative government’s handling of the history file, including the “ill-conceived and potentially-destructive” rebranding of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
The museum’s former chief archeologist, Robert McGhee: “Within the past year, 80 per cent of the archeologists employed by Parks Canada — the largest archeological agency in the country — have lost their jobs. The Canadian Museum of Civilization, the lead federal institution engaged in researching and presenting aboriginal history, is being transformed into a Museum of History focusing on the relatively recent political, military and sporting achievements that the current government thinks will make Canadians proud of their past.” (January 31, 2013)

logo-gagnant_1429715457757_engGlobe editorial Grumbling over logo for Canada’s 150th birthday is a bit rich
Only in Canada would a government be criticized for letting a university undergrad design the logo for the country’s 150th anniversary. What seems on the surface like a nice thing for the federal government to do – holding a design contest open only to postsecondary students and giving the winner $5,000, not to mention a huge start in life – has been called exploitative, cheap and a tarnish on the birthday celebration.
But the winning design, by Ariana Cuvin, a second-year student in business and digital arts at the University of Waterloo, actually works well. It is basically an updating of the logo created for the 1967 centennial. It’s not as elegant as that one, which used 11 colourful triangles to create a modernized maple leaf, but it certainly won’t offend anyone.
If professional graphic designers had their way, the process of creating the new logo would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. There would have been months of elaborate discussion about telling Canada’s story and celebrating its virtues. And then a winning logo would have been unveiled and half the country would have hated it and been offended by the money that was spent on it.

centenial logoHistory Repeating Itself – Recollections of the 1967 Centennial Logo Contest
Much like what has been proposed for the Canadian 150th anniversary identity, in the years prior to 1967 the Canadian Government conducted a design competition for the creation of the Centennial logo. There was little, if any, background briefing as to what would constitute an appropriate design solution. As a consequence, this approach did not yield an acceptable design. The submissions were banal, predictable or clichéd.
As a result of the inability to use the fruits of the contest, in 1963 the federal government approached the typesetting firm of Cooper & Beatty that was led by design director Anthony Mann. Having recently graduated from the Ontario College of Art, I was apprenticing at Cooper & Beatty. At Anthony Mann’s direction we affiliated with the internationally recognized Ottawa design firm Paul Arthur & Associates. (posted by the Graphic Designers of Canada)

We have been there before!
Remember the acrimony surrounding the new Canadian flag of which we were reminded earlier this year on the 50th anniversary of the first day it was flown?

Canada’s maple leaf flag born amid bitter debateCanada flag
Leader Lester Pearson wanted a flag to represent the new, multicultural Canada. John Diefenbaker was vehemently opposed. The battle was ferocious. And for some, it may still linger
Canada’s flag debate flaps on, 50 years later
Now the question is whether Ottawa is spending enough to mark the flag’s anniversary

Then there was the Expo 67 symbol designed by Julien Hébert  not everyone agreed with this assessment by Shelby White (made many years later!) expo 67 multi logo
The 1967 world fair in Montreal, Canada was held together by one unifying object–the Expo 67 logo. Quite possibly it is one of the most cleanly executed and memorable World Fair logo’s (sic) to date. The combination of the timeless icon combined with beautifully kerned type (set in the Optima Roman typeface), really unified the core ideas behind Expo 67.”
– an “artistic monstrosity” according to (again) Mr. Diefenbaker, and later, of course, hailed as brilliant.

Montreal logo proposalNone of the above controversy can be equated with what greeted this version of the Montréal city logo that was released in 2008 to much criticism and ridicule. Fortunately, it died a natural death. It seems that someone in Mayor Tremblay’s entourage decided in 2006  that the city needed to replace its elegant and widely recognized symbol with a new brand. The taxpayers were dinged for  $487,000 for this.

 

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