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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Constructing the Canadian teenager : the Star Weekly Magazine and representations of the young during the late 1940s Snowden, Lorraine Caroline


While the postwar era has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years, the experience of young Canadians through the late 1940s has been largely overlooked. As a result, the postwar phenomenon of teen culture, and construction of the Canadian teenager, have relied heavily on American interpretations. This thesis, by examining the Canadian scene, suggests the beginnings of another perspective on the postwar positioning of adolescence in the English-speaking world. Focussing on the immediate postwar years (1945-1950), representations of young people will be assessed through a popular medium, The Star Weekly Magazine. If the opinions reflected in this widely distributed Canadian periodical are any indication, attitudes were shifting dramatically through these years. In the immediate aftermath of war, the development of Canada's young was rarely addressed by Star writers. By 1950, the subject was front and centre. Driven by developments in the field of mental health, Star contributors grew preoccupied with the construction of well-balanced citizens. Young Canadians were at the centre of this movement. If young people matured over a longer period of time, they would be less likely to follow in the wayward path of parents. This was the message relayed through Star writings during the late 1940s. While presented in progressive terms, as an opportunity for young people to internalize essential values and develop social skills, The Star's emerging ideal was somewhat of a mixed blessing. In contrast to earlier counterparts, Canada's postwar teenagers were to be continuously monitored and subject to the dictates of parents.

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