John Murray Gibbon (1875-1952): The branding of a northern nation

  • Leighann C. Neilson Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario


Purpose – This paper is an attempt to recover to our understanding of the history of Canadian
marketing the marketing practice of J. Murray Gibbon, General Publicity Agent of the Canadian
Pacific Railway (CPR). An additional objective of this biographical sketch is to contribute to the history of ideas by examining the intellectual influences on Gibbon’s work, how he came to see his adopted country as a ‘mosaic’ rather than a ‘melting pot,’ how this was actualized in the CPR’s marketing strategy and finally, how his ideas came to influence the way a nation thinks about itself.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on an analysis of archival documents, including
Gibbon’s own unfinished, unpublished autobiography, his correspondence with Marius Barbeau regarding the Canadian Folk Song and Handicraft Festivals in Quebec City, and Gibbon’s published works. Analysis of secondary literature was also conducted.

Findings – Gibbon’s role as a nation builder and nation brander is fore-grounded. The Canadian
Pacific Railway’s marketing strategy is understood within a definition of corporate social responsibility appropriate for the time period.

Research limitation/implications – Gibbon’s personal papers are not currently available to researchers. Without knowing the scope of these papers it is difficult to estimate limitations. However, if these papers should become available at a future date, additional research may be warranted.


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