'Enjoy the nostalgia': Exhibit looking at history of P.E.I. tourism opens at Confederation Centre

·2 min read
Curator Ed Macdonald says the new exhibit is meant to track the evolution of the P.E.I. tourism industry, and Islanders' relationship to it. (CBC - image credit)
Curator Ed Macdonald says the new exhibit is meant to track the evolution of the P.E.I. tourism industry, and Islanders' relationship to it. (CBC - image credit)

The Confederation Centre of the Arts has launched new exhibits that will be featured all summer at its art gallery, including one that is sure to take Islanders in a trip down memory lane.

Four exhibits opened to the public Saturday night.

One of them is The Summer Trade, an exhibition chronicling the history of the Island tourism industry through pictures and different artifacts.

"We begin the exhibit with the doors to the dining room of the Abegweit, which was the queen of the ferry fleet for 40 years," said historian Ed Macdonald, who curated the space with his colleague, Alan MacEachern.

"Then we travel through things like attractions, souvenirs, different kinds of promotion: visitors' guides, earlier kinds of literature, films on tourism on P.E.I., vintage films from the '40s and the '50s."

CBC
CBC

MacDonald said tourism "infiltrates all aspects of our lives" as Islanders, and that the exhibition aims to track the evolution of such an influential industry. It also explores the relationship P.E.I. residents have with tourism.

"There's always been a little streak of ambivalence because tourism can be the tail that wags the dog of a society," he said.

"We put on our best face because we are hosts. But that also means that to a certain extent we simplify our culture, simplify our landscape to package it, so it can be kind of enjoyed better and more easily. So we explore that a little bit, too."

CBC
CBC

Among the items on display are replicas of Cows Creamery merchandise from the '80s, 19th-century postcards, and Mrs. Sleepy Owl — the "talking" owl that was a popular fixture at the defunct Rainbow Valley theme park.

"It's the memories that we make as kids that stay with us for our entire lives," MacDonald said.

"If you're a visitor to the Island, this is a visit to yourself because, of course, we do all of this for the visitor. If you're an Islander I want you to enjoy the nostalgia."

CBC
CBC

Wide array

The other gallery exhibits now open to the public include Matues Revisited, which features a collection of Mi'kmaw quillwork art by The Quill Sisters collective.

RE:visiting compares recent works of eight Canadian artists with some of their earlier pieces. And Shannon Bool: The Shape of Obus showcases Bool's work in various mediums exploring repressed erotic influences in the works and designs of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.

CBC
CBC

"We think there are lots of tourists interested in the visual arts, interested in culture generally. And so we really think about that audience when we're planning our summer exhibitions," said Confederation Centre art director Ken Rice.

"We just think about what is a really representative group of projects for those visitors, and I think they'll be pleased
With what they find this summer."

All the exhibitions will be up until at least September. Admission is by donation.

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