John Backhouse, mayor of Prince George from 1986 to 1996 has weighed in on the “Is Prince George north?” debate:
“Put this into the context of when the slogan was first introduced. In 1967 the city was slowly recovering from a very tough recession. The self respect of the city was low, what we needed was a slogan that said not just what we were at the time but reflected where we were going.
“Was it a little arrogant? Probably yes – we needed some “swagger.” When I introduced myself as the Mayor of PG, BC’s Northern Capital at the Premier’s Conference in February 1987, Premier Van der Zalm said, ” I wondered when that might come up” – he liked it!
“Many of my colleagues gave me a bad time about it, however they knew that Prince George was, and is, the service centre for many northern industries, it’s a transportation, health, educational, financial and government centre. That is the role of a “Capital”.
“Edmonton does use the term north, as in the “Gateway to the North” that doesn’t appear to have held back the development of that city. Senior representatives of companies such as FMC and Costco among many other investors never mentioned our slogan as a detriment to them locating here and the University of Northern British Columbia was widely accepted as an appropriate name.
“I have seen a number of organizations proudly indicate that PG has four seasons – one of them is winter – cold and snow! It’s a reality, it’s often a wonderland and provides great recreational opportunities. Market the city and the region for the huge advantages it has and promote pride in the role PG plays in northern development.“
On the other side, I received this email from CBC listener Roman Muntener today, as well:
“As an old marketing guy I was annoyed by the use of the word “North” all over the place when I arrived in Prince George from Switzerland. I found that every second business used the term in one way or another for their business name – where is the imagination?
“As for Prince George (and branding in general) just leave it alone – taglines are at best short lived anyway at best and nondescript and downright wrong in many cases. Branding a product or municipality doesn’t need a tag – better leave it away all together!”