In a short 1950s comedy, a small group of grumpy natives celebrate awful customer service in the hopes of keeping Americans away.

Welcome to the latest installation of “Public Access,” where CityLab shares its favorite videos—old and new, serious and nutty—that tell a story about place.

Tourism into Canada reached a record high last year, generating 20.8 million trips—14.3 million of those coming from the U.S. This news would have really pissed off the president of the “Canadian Anti-Tourist League.”

In the National Film Board of Canada’s (NFB) 1959 short film, Tourist Go Home!, a fictitious small group of older Canadians who want to enjoy their pristine parks and fried egg sandwiches in peace—that is, without troublesome Americans—go searching through bootlegged, unedited tourism films to find out what attracts and repels visitors from the south.

The group’s zealous president expresses comical bouts of frustration and satisfaction as they screen footage of one Michigan family’s trip through Ontario’s Muskoka Lakes region. Attractive garbage bins at the park, cops who give helpful directions, and government funded tourism bureaus outrage him. But a surly service station attendant and a waitress that comes up with an exchange rate on the fly make him proud to be a Canadian. While the group frets over the rise of American tourists, their president reminds them that “the Bureau of Statistics does not publish the number of Americans who stay away from Canada after viewing our versions of these films. I’m sure they’re equally effective.”

As retold earlier this month in the NFB’s blog, Tourist Go Home! was made for the Canadian Tourist Association, which used it to train industry workers and highlight the importance of American tourism money for Canada’s economy. It ended up being well received, but just in case it wasn’t, a disclaimer was left at the end of the film reminding viewers that “poor conditions are entirely fictitious and do not, in any way, represent conditions in these establishments.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    In Paris, a Very Progressive Agenda Is Going Mainstream

    Boosted by big sustainability wins, Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pitching bold plans to make the city center “100 percent bicycle” and turn office space into housing.

  2. photo: San Diego's Trolley
    Transportation

    Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

    In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

  3. Design

    What’s Behind the Iconic Floor Plan of London

    The most common residential floor plans in European cities offer a window into urban history and culture. In London, it’s the “two-up, two-down” row house.

  4. photo: a couple tries out a mattress in a store.
    Equity

    What’s the Future of the ‘Sleep Economy’?

    As bed-in-a-box startup Casper files for an IPO, the buzzy mattress seller is betting that the next big thing in sleep is brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

  5. photo: Developer James Rouse visiting Harborplace in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
    Life

    What Happened to Baltimore’s Harborplace?

    The pioneering festival marketplace was among the most trendsetting urban attractions of the last 40 years. Now it’s looking for a new place in a changed city.

×