ROADSIDE DISTRACTIONS The road trip and the ready-made tourist experience

Sunday January 26, 7:00pm

Presented by the Home Movie History Project 

From the beginning of automobile culture spectacles have been right at the pavement’s edge. Some just waiting to be filmed like scenic vistas and wildlife, others created specifically to entice drivers to stop. Folksy roadside stands, shops and amusement sites tried to offer a homespun sense of local authenticity, while preserving the tourist’s expectation of the familiar.

We travel north, south, east and west on road trips with enthusiastic groups of travellers from the 1940s to 70s. Stitched together by the hypnotic effect of driving footage shot through car windows, we stop along the way with families at trading posts and souvenir shops; drive-up Magnetic Hill N.B. in reverse; hang-out with guests at the courtyard pool of a 50s motel; crowd into see an hourly live mermaid show in Florida; obeying or not “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs in parks like Banff; visit Santa in the summertime with kids at Santa’s Village in Bracebridge; and pose at Sudbury’s giant nickel and Wawa’s giant goose – in a warts-and-all look at North America’s obsession with the myth of the road.