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An Archive Of Great Canadian Logos (And A Few Other Nostalgic Design Sites)
February 26, 2014
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Amik c. 1976
1/10 OPEN GALLERY

The world is full of logos. In most major cities, anywhere you turn you're likely to see corporate branding in one form or another. That could be a drag — but if you look closely, you might realize that lots of Canadian logos are actually pretty great. At least that's what the Ottawa-based design firm Northern Army thinks. Their new website, Northern Army Preservation Society of Canada, is a compendium of some of the best Canadian logos ever designed. As the curators of the site explain in the mission statement: 

Great design has become part of our landscape, and we believe that some of the world’s best is here in The North. Canadian designers have translated thousands of qualities across a hundred and fifty years into beautifully restrained, unforgettable icons that now make up our visual landscape.

The project aims to be a digital archive of great design, focused entirely on Canadian work for Canadian institutions. And we're not just talking about design-savvy media brands, either. The site's 186 logos (and counting) include everything from the iconic CN Rail letters to the Canadian Wheat Board sheaf to the Montreal Canadiens logo. (And yes, there are a few iterations of the CBC logo in there too.) Some are old and now defunct, others are still in use today. Either way, they're all examples of excellent, time-tested design work. 

Of course, this isn't the only place you can find great design from years past. Below, you'll find a few more websites that highlight the best everyday design with a sense of nostalgia.

Type Hunting

This site was started in 2012 by Jonathan Lawrence, a graphic designer based in Atlanta. Lawrence finds and photographs old cans, jars and signs — anything with the old-school typography still intact. As he explains: "Back when a lot of this stuff was made, there were no marketing teams, no research groups, no gradients or yellow banners. People just needed things to look good and to be produced simply...My intent is to rescue what little bit of this treasure I can find, before it's trashed and gone forever."

Best Before

Like Type Hunting, Best Before is a collection of photographed objects from bygone eras. It's the brainchild of James Kendall, a writer and photographer in the U.K. Everything photographed here comes from his wife's grandmother's pantry, which he helped clean out when she moved to a retirement home. It's stuff from the backs of cupboards — many, many decades' worth, which makes it fun to trace logo and product design through time. 

Warner Bros. Logo Through Time

The Warner Bros. logo has changed a lot since the studio was founded in 1923 (by two Canadians, we might add). To find them all in one place, you'd have to spend a lot of time combing through a lot of old movies (the first couple of minutes of old movies, anyway). Well, that's exactly what web designer Christian Annyas did, posting the results on this website. It's a pretty incredible trip through cinematic history — and design history, too, with different typographical and design cues emerging each decade.

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