Scaling the pinnacle of art: learning vacations in Banff National Park, 1940s-1950s
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Typically targeted to well-educated, middle class older travellers, the market for learning tourism in Canada has grown significantly in recent years. Operators and conservation agencies in Banff National Park have expressed a preference for this tourist group on the basis of its perceived higher sensitivity to environmental protection and appropriate behaviour in scenic wilderness areas. This paper discusses the historical roots of learning tourism in Banff National Park in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s as a combination of the new mass tourism industry, public education and cultural politics coincided at the Banff School of Fine Arts. The School offered summer programs in the tradition of rational recreation and community extension ideals, structuring a hands-on learning experience as a combination of cultural training and touristic recreation. Further mediating between national agendas of cultural development and popular taste in landscape art, the Schoolâ€™s practices and production of visual arts also contributed to the production of Banff as a tourist commodity. Comparisons are drawn between historical contexts of learning or cultural vacations in terms of participant demographics, geographical locations and marketing strategies.