In the post-war period of 1940s Montreal, in part characterized by the Quebec nationalism of Premier Maurice Duplessis, the businessman Adrien Gagnon challenged the monopoly on bodybuilding, physical training, and physical culture enjoyed by fitness entrepreneurs Ben and Joe Weider. Gagnon mobilized sentiment against the dominance of English businessmen in Montreal, through his magazine Santé et Développement Physique. This article examines how Gagnon wielded aspects of French Canadian nationalism, and the respective influences of language and religion as cultural and moral enterprises, in the sale of his publications and products as he attempted to dislodge the market share and influence of the Weiders in the business of health and exercise.
Phillip Chipman is with the Department of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Kevin B. Wamsley is academic vice-president, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.