'Wild' vs 'Mild' West: A Binary or Symbiotic Unit? The Complexity of the Mythic West Re-Imagined from a Canadian Perspective, 1970-1914
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In popular imagination, the mythical West is widely associated with the American West. It is misleading to regard the prairie or mountain West in Canada as the mythical West. The mythical West is a constellation of images defined by the interrelation of American imagination, myth, and history. People have always imagined the mythical West, and it has appeared in many forms: images, writings, folk tales, songs, motion pictures, and television. The word 'West' creates expectations and ideas that are historically rooted in American culture. This fascination with the 'West' has also intrigued American historians, and they have focused their energies on explaining the origins and effects of the imagined 'West.' In 1870, Canadians became interested in settling their western region, and in order to sell this wondrous land, they created the image of the 'mild' West. This image was measured against the Wild West, which existed south of the forty-ninth parallel. Canadian expansionists, in particular, described a kind of West that was totally different from the 'wild' American West. The Canadian West, as a consequence, owed some of its creation as being mild to the American West to the degree that it was viewed as mild only in comparison to its 'wild' counterpart.