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The halcyon days of travel in the mid twentieth century saw companies capitalise on the new freedoms of commercial air travel. Picturesque posters of glimmering seas, colourful cultures and unfamiliar lands far from home were the primary method of luring potential travellers abroad.


Archeological studies have shown that North and South America were the last continents into which humans migrated. For thousands of years, its inhabitants were confined to Alaska and the western territory of Yukon as the Laurentide Ice Sheet covered most of Canada. Local climates began to stabilise about 10,000 years ago, with conditions similar to those of today. This allowed early settlers to venture further inland. The first Europeans to arrive were the Norse from Greenland and Iceland in around 1000 AD, settling in Newfoundland.

After World War Two, Canada saw prosperity return after a rocky first half of the twentieth century. Tourism picked up in the sixties and it has remained a popular destination since.

Unknown origin c.1950

Ontario - Canada's Vacation Province (c.1950)
This poster, of unknown origins, was published around 1950 to promote the province of Ontario, located in east-central Canada. The province is larger than France and Spain combined and is home to over 250,000 lakes which make up a fifth of the world's fresh water reserves!

Trans-Canada Air Lines (c.1960) [Image courtesy of Air Canada Archives]

Trans-Canada Air (c.1960)
In 1960, Trans-Canada Air Lines became the first airline to adopt the jet engine, making a trans-Canada flight quicker than ever before.

Sail White Empress - Canadian Pacific Steamships (1950)

Canadian Pacific Steamships (1950)
RMS White Empress (later renamed Empress of Canada and then Mardi Gras) was an ocean liner built by Vickers-Armstrongs in Newcastle, UK for Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd. It traversed the transatlantic route between Liverpool and Canada for over a decade.

Canadian Pacific - Banff National Park (1936)

Canadian Pacific - Banff National Park (1936)
Depicting a picturesque view of the Bow River Valley as seen from the Banff Springs Hotel (now known as Fairmont Banff Springs) in Banff National Park. Illustrated by James Crockart.

Montreal Olympics (1976) [Image credit: Canada Modern Archive]

Montréal Summer Olympics 'The Invitation' (1976)

Okay, it's not a travel poster but it is an iconic design, worthy of inclusion.

Posters played an important role in the image the 1976 Olympic Games. Eight 'thematic' and 21 sport-themed posters were designed by Ernst Roch and Rolf Harder of the Montréal Olympic Organizing Committee.


Neighbouring Canada to the south is North America; home to New York City, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Washington DC and more, and to iconic landmarks and attractions from Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, Ground Zero, Times Square and the Empire State Building to Alcatraz Island, Disney Land Resort, Universal Studios and, the seat of American democracy, the Capitol Building.

Its history spans thousands of years. It is though that early eurasian settlers crossed Beringia, a land bridge that once connected Siberia with modern day Alaska. From there, they would either venture into what is now Canada, or head south into America.

Hawaii by Clipper - Pan American World Airlines (1946)

Hawaii by Clipper, Pan Am (1946)
Clippers we a popular mode of air transport in the mid part of the twentieth century. Introduced in the late 1930s, the clipper built by Boeing was also known as a flying boat as it was able to land on water. Pan Am operated many short-haul routes by clipper.

Las Vegas by Trans World Airlines (1960s)

Las Vegas by Trans World Airlines (1960s)
This colourful poster features an elegant lady enjoying Las Vegas during the day and night. On her right she wears a sparkly red evening dress, on her left a bathing suit. This clever artwork was produced by David Klein (1918-2005), most noted for his TWA travel advertising posters.

New York City - American Airlines (c.1950)

New York, American Airlines (c.1950)
Produced by Weimer Pursell in a classic abstract style, this poster was used to advertise flights to New York City by American Airlines. Pursell also produced artwork for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and several World War Two posters - most notably the "When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler" poster).

White Star Line - Olympic Class Ships (1910s)

Olympic-Class Titanic and Olympic (1910s)
This poignant poster, an early example of a travel commercial, was produced between 1910-1911 to advertise White Star Line's new 'Olympic-class' ocean liners. These 45,000 ton ships were, at the time, the largest the world had ever seen, able to accommodate over 3,300 people (crew and passengers). Titanic was 53m in height, 269m long and had a top speed of 26mph (43km/h).

But no one could've predicted its fate. In the early hours of 15 April 1912, Titanic struck an iceberg. Within three hours the ship had sunk. Its wreck lies in two halves on the Atlantic seabed 3,840m (12,600ft) below the surface. Over 1,500 lives were lost.

USA - Air France (1968)

Georges Matthieu's Air France poster (1968)
In 1968, the French painter and designer Georges Matthieu, master of the informalism movement, did 16 different posters for Air France including this poster for US travel.

LA Olympics - David Hockney (1984)

LA Olympics, David Hockey Swimming (1984)
We're past the golden age of travel now but we've included this poster for comparison. Commissioned by Los Angeles Olympic Organising Committee and produced by artist David Hockney, this poster was one of a handful of artworks produced by different artists in their respective styles to promote different sports.

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