Canada Picobac tobacco advertising on a match striker c. 1940s #2

$55.00 CAD

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Canadian pipe tobacco grown by Imperial Tobacco in South-Western Ontario. Great colours and image of laughing man holding a pipe.

  You can’t beat
The pick of Tobacco
8-4705 Printed in Canada


Some writing on striking paper.Creases LL corner, UL and UR corners. Red stain right side and on his collar. Writing right side. Staple holes on his nose and at top. Corner chipping. Toning and staining on back.

26.5 x 9 cm.


The Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada, formed in 1908, was less hesitant to adopt Canadian grown tobacco, and encouraged this climatic recasting of Southern Ontario. Their interest in the Canadian-grown weed grew to the point where they held a controlling position of the market, and set the price in most years. However, the company (and the farmers) still sensed that the perception persisted Canada was far too cold for quality tobacco. To overcome this, the company launched a ‘Picobac’ Burley pipe tobacco line in 1933. The early advertisements relied on colourful stories about the life of ‘Mr. Picobac,’ the ‘Essex County philosopher.’ He launched a ‘tour’ where he expounded on the greatness of Canada and the virtues of Essex County, frequently from a sunny step in front of a post office.

He was a busy fellow, going from barber shop to worker rally to tell people about the virtues of the ‘mild…cool…sweet smoke’ in his pipe. The ad writers probably had the older demographic, who were more inclined to purchase pipe tobacco, in mind. For this audience, Mr. Picobac exudes warmth, familiarity, and stability. In true paternal (and patriarchal) fashion, he advised one young man of the dual advantages of Essex County, the girls and the warm environment. Climate, more so than women, is a recurring theme in the copy. Picobac was ‘Grown in Sunny Southern Ontario.’ One ad copy presented the pastoral image of tobacco growing alongside rows of peaches, apples, and other summertime fruits. Indeed, Picobac ads frequently sought to frame tobacco cultivation as part of the natural landscape of Essex—of course, quality tobacco could be grown in the sunny fields of Southern Ontario. All it took was a bit of gumption and modern farming techniques.

The Picobac advertisements disappear around the end of the Second World War. However, the brand seems to have have stuck around for longer—I found a reference to Imperial discontinuing the brand in 1969.

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