This year, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition (AYP) celebrates its centennial. Organized to publicize the development of the Pacific Northwest, the AYP was located on the small but growing University of Washington-Seattle campus. Then, as now, Canada was one of the US’ most important trading partners, so it is no surprise that both the Government of Canada and the Grand Trunk Railway (which would eventually become Canadian National Railways) chose to participate with their own exhibit buildings.
Neither exhibit building exists today. However, hundreds of photographs and postcards of these buildings and other AYP exhibit buildings, as well as various paper memorabilia, can be found in the Libraries’ Special Collections Division. Approximately 1,200 photographs and prints of the AYP have been digitized and are available online through the Libraries’ website (http://www.lib.washington.edu).
Browsing these photographs, one is struck by how, even a century ago, the Government of Canada was able to use stereotypes successfully to promote the country. For example, the Canada Building’s exhibit on Canadian beavers – which included two tanks with live beavers – slyly noted that Canada beavers are “the earliest known wood cutters and dam builders in the world.” A magazine of the day described the Canada Building as epitomizing “the abounding prosperity of which even now Canada is mistress, and of the still rosier future to which she is destined.”
In celebration of the AYP’s centennial, Special Collections staff has created three exhibits focusing on the fair. Located in the Suzzallo Exhibit Room, the Allen balcony, and the Special Collections lobby, the exhibits will run through October 30. Be sure to visit our website or stop by in person and view the photos of the beaver exhibit!
Sion Romaine has served as Canadian Studies Librarian since joining the UW staff in 2006. He has a strong background in Canadian Studies, graduating from the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia with research interests in First Nations library services. Sion oversees the Libraries Subject Guide on Canada, provides a monthly notice of new Canadian Studies acquisitions, and serves as the Libraries representative on the Executive Board for the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium.