State Department Unveils ‘Portraits of America’ (and Canada)

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  11.01.07 | 10:50 AM ET

horseshoePhoto by Mtl_Shag via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Looks like someone in Washington forgot that “the 51st state” is actually just a cute nickname for the friendly neighbor to the north. The U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security have released a promotional video called “Welcome: Portraits of America” aimed at changing the United States’ reputation as a country hostile to foreigners. The video, which is to be given “maximum exposure” in American airports and at U.S. embassies around the world, shows footage of the Lincoln Memorial, the Grand Canyon and other American landmarks, as well the Horseshoe Falls portion of Niagara Falls—a famous landmark in, uh, Canada.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told the AP that Niagara Falls is “a shared natural wonder, a gateway for both our countries,” and added that “anyone looking at the video will understand how proud America is to share it with Canada.”

But Paul Gromosiak, an American historian based in upstate New York, has a different take: “This is not the United States, this is 100 percent Canada, shot from the Canadian side. This is an insult.”

I don’t want to get too worked up about this, because nobody likes an over-sensitive, over-wrought Canadian. But I might respectfully suggest, if anyone in the public relations office is listening, that there are better ways to repair a nation’s reputation than by poaching another country’s postcard shots.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

5 Comments for State Department Unveils ‘Portraits of America’ (and Canada)

Emily 11.01.07 | 4:05 PM ET

What can I say? Our country is just so photogenic that its used in other places’ tourist brochures.

Kelsey 11.02.07 | 8:21 AM ET

Isn’t that the USA in the background?  How dare they steal the top third of the photo!

Gerry Wingenbach 11.03.07 | 2:06 AM ET

i’ll take the bait…no biase here, i hold both a US and Canadian passport…the subhead for this site reads “travel dispatches from a shrinking planet” ...let it go (on both sides), just be thankful the niagra river still flows wild…like einstein said, “nations are the measles of mankind”

Eva Holland 11.03.07 | 1:42 PM ET

Don’t worry, Gerry. I’m not going to let it keep me up at night!

Lora Ceel 01.10.08 | 5:25 PM ET

Well, the shot is looking FROM the Canadian side, which means it’s looking (sorta-kinda) TOWARD the US.

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