Giftshop references


"...And after a glimpse
over the top.
The rest of the world
becomes a gift shop."

"Giftshop" is inspired by, and sometimes about (depending on what mood Gord is in when he introduces the song) that gaping tourist attraction in the Arizona desert: the Grand Canyon. The Canyon was formed over millennia as the Colorado River cut its way through the mountainous region of the southwestern United States. Slowly but surely (6 million years of 'slow and sure' to be exact) the river eroded the centre of the canyon creating the massive crater which exists today. The rolling and sprawling nature of the opening is due to the fact that the canyon area used to be at the bottom of a large body of water, causing it to take the shape of the shifting and meandering waters.

In 1876, the Fred Harvey Trading Company began to capitalize on the flow of tourists to the area. Harvey, a British immigrant to the new American West, was the first successful manager of a hotel chain in the United States. Initially, his trading company acted as a retailer for locals and Native tribes selling their arts and crafts to the visiting hordes. But of course, it wasn't long before snow globes, T-shirts, and Grand Canyon ash trays were all the rage. The Fred Harvey name is still used to sell souvenirs in Grand Canyon giftshops:

"...The beautiful lull
The dangerous tug."

The Canyon has always had special significance to the Arizona Native tribes, largely Navaho, who inhabited the Arizona valley and the Canyon itself for thousands of years. It is said to be a contemplative place, where the silence and isolation can be overwhelming at times. Legends exist of men walking into the canyon never to return. Modern tour groups and expeditions have lost members in the canyon due to heat stroke, exhaustion, or simple disappearance. The Canyon is said to call to men, beckoning them to explore further. Its dangerous and inhospitable reality is cloaked by irresistible beauty and grandeur.

The Navaho themselves know all too well the death associated with the Canyon. In 1864, Kit Carson led a US military brigade against the Natives in the area who refused to be forcibly relocated. Carson and his army destroyed Navaho villages, murdered Navaho men, women and children, and then marched the surviving members of the tribe over 300 miles to Fort Sumner. The ordeal became known as the "Long Walk." Over 200 Navaho Natives died while marching amidst the unforgiving desert sun.

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