A Short History of the National Magazine Awards

For 40 years the National Magazine Awards have honoured Canada’s most outstanding and memorable writers, artists, stories, and publications. It all began in 1976, when Andrew MacFarlane, dean of journalism at the University of Western Ontario, established a working group towards the creation of a National Magazine Awards. He was joined by John S. Crosbie, president of the Magazine Association of Canada; Michael de Pencier, publisher of Toronto Life; Roger de la Garde, dean of journalism at Université Laval; Alan Edmunds, head of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), and others. The rest is history.

As we get ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards on Friday May 26 [Tickets] [Nominees], here’s a quick look at some of our most enduring memories…

 

1977

Michael de Pencier in the 1970s. Photo credit: Harold Barkley / Getty Images via Toronto Life

The National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) receives its charter of non-profit foundation status from the Province of Ontario. Michael de Pencier, then the publisher of Toronto Life, is named the first president of the board of the directors. The NMAF establishes 14 categories, and more than 60 magazines submit 1377 entries. The submission fee is $10 per entry.

  • Among the 62 judges of the first National Magazine Awards were Joan Fraser (later a senator), author and essayist George Woodcock, and Adrienne Clarkson, then a CBC journalist, later the Governor General.

 

1978

Pierre Berton. Photo credit: CBC Archives

Pierre Berton hosts the first National Magazine Awards gala at the Hotel Toronto. Berton proclaims to the audience, “In a bold departure from tradition, there are to be no thank you speeches. We can do that because we are giving money, not some cheap statuette.” Harrowsmith (English) and L’actualité (French) win Magazine of the Year. Roy MacGregor (English) and Louise Coté (French) win the President’s Medals for the best overall article.

  • Image courtesy Town of Huntsville; photo illustration by Vessy Stroumsky

    The University of Western Ontario donated the original President’s Medals. From 1978 until 2001, the NMAF bestowed the President’s Medal upon the top overall magazine story of the year. Roy MacGregor’s original President’s Medal now resides in the Canada Summit Centre Sports Memorabilia Collection in the Town of Huntsville, Ontario.

Magazine types really know how to party.
Toronto Sun headline, following the first NMA gala

 

1979

Weekend Magazine, under the art direction of Robert Priest, wins the National Magazine Award for Best Cover, depicting a bloody image of the controversial baby seal hunt. Weekend Magazine, founded in 1951, wins 5 NMAs in 1979 before folding later that year.

 

1980

B.C. journalist Silver Donald Cameron wins the gold medal for Culture Writing, for a literary essay on author Farley Mowat published in Atlantic Insight.

 

1981

Photojournalist Nigel Dickson wins the first of his six NMA gold medals for a photo essay of the drought in the Canadian Prairies—one of the worst on record—published in Maclean’s.

 

1982

Jean Paré. Photo: Ordre national du Québec

At the fifth anniversary NMAs gala, legendary Quebec journalist Jean Paré wins the gold medal in Comment (later Columns) for L’actualité. From 1977 to 2009, Paré was nominated for 22 National Magazine Awards, winning 11. In 1996 he was the recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

  • Jean Paré founded the weekly news magazine L’actualité in 1976 after three years as deputy editor of Maclean’s.

 

1983

Margaret Atwood wins the silver medal in Travel Writing, for “The Five Faces of Mexico,” published in Quest magazine. Quest, then under the editorship of the famously bespectacled and bow-tied Michael Enright, would fold a year later after winning 14 National Magazine Awards since 1978.

  • Margaret Atwood has won 3 National Magazine Awards (in Poetry, Travel Writing, and Environmental Journalism). She’s been nominated 3 times in Fiction but never won.

 

1984

Sylvia Barrett Wright wins her first of two gold medals in the category Science, Technology & the Environment for Equinox magazine (the other came in 1988). She becomes the first woman to win gold in this category. From 1984-2016 only eight women won the gold medal in Science, Technology & the Environment, including Noémi Mercier (also twice) and Margaret Atwood.

  • Vancouver Magazine, under veteran editor Mac Parry, won Magazine of the Year at the 1985 NMA gala. Originally known as Dick McLean’s Greater Vancouver Greeter Guide, VanMag was also briefly known as Vancouver’s Leisure Magazine before the current, simple title took hold in 1973.

 

1985

P.K. Page. Photo: Wikicommons

The poet Patricia Kathleen “P.K.” Page wins the National Magazine Award for poetry, for a suite of poems published in The Malahat Review. From 1944 under her death in 2010 at the age of 93, Page published more than three dozen books of poetry, prose, and children’s literature.

  • Since 1978 The Malahat Review has won 28 National Magazine Awards for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

 

1986

Saturday Night art director Louis Fishauf wins both the gold and silver medals in Art Direction of a Single Article. Since 1979 Fishauf has been nominated for over 30 National Magazine Awards for his work in Saturday Night, The City, City Woman, Executive Magazine, T.O. Magazine, and Toronto Life.

My dream, when I was a young writer starting out, was to one day write for Saturday Night magazine. I pitched them ideas, to no avail, until one day in 2005 an editor emailed me out of the blue. I squeaked into one of their very last issues, and I still miss what Saturday Night stood for: a space of serious (but not too serious) intellectual engagement and storytelling as good as any in the world.
– Deborah Campbell, author and 3-time National Magazine Award winner

 

1987

At the tenth anniversary National Magazine Awards, graphic artist Simon Ng wins both gold and silver in Best Illustration, for work in Canadian Business and Toronto magazine. Blair Dawson and Gracia Lam are the only other illustrators to accomplish that double.

  • CBC “Morningside” host Peter Gzowski emceed the NMA gala for the second time (he also hosted in 1979 and for a final time in 1991) at the 10th anniversary gala in 1987, where Report on Business won Magazine of the Year.

 

1988

Elaine Dewar’s “The Mysterious Reichmanns: The Untold Story” (Toronto Life) wins the President’s Medal for best article (it also wins the gold medal for Investigative Journalism and Illustration). The Reichmann family, known for their real estate empire, had sued Dewar and Toronto Life for libel, for $102 million.

  • According to a contemporary story in the Ryerson Review of Journalism, in a show of journalistic support at that year’s NMA gala, “virtually everyone in the Grand Ballroom at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre stood up and cheered when [Dewar’s] victories were announced.”

 

1989

Photo courtesy James Ireland

James Ireland wins the National Magazine Award for Art Direction of a Single Magazine Article, for Canadian Art. Over a 40-year career designing magazines like Report on BusinessToronto LifeCanadian BusinessMaclean’sCanadian Art, U of T Magazine, Chatelaine, and many more, Ireland was one of the most celebrated and admired art directors in Canada. In 1997 the NMAF presented him with its Outstanding Achievement Award.

The art staff at The Canadian magazine were known for taking long liquid lunches each Friday. Every now and then the publisher of the magazine would wander through the art department around 2pm to make sure we were all back at our desks. One Friday morning, one of the artists, Harry Shepherd, took some foam board and magic markers, and cut out full-sized, silhouette likenesses of each designer. He slumped them over their drawing boards with scalpels in hand so they looked hard at work. The strong backlight from the windows made them look very convincing—it was spectacular! We all had to work late that night.
– James Ireland

 

1990

The Idler wins its first National Magazine Award (for Best Cover). Writing in The Globe and Mail in 2007, novelist and NMA winner Russell Smith remarked of The Idler: It was “a bit like The Walrus, but more eccentric and unpredictable, and with less reporting and more reflection. It was an elegant, brilliant and often irritating thing, proudly pretentious and nostalgic, written by philosophers, curmudgeons, pedants, intellectual dandies.”

One night, long ago, when I was still an undergraduate student at U of T, I found myself at The Idler pub. Upstairs, I knew, were the offices of the magazine by the same name. That night, a bunch of journos and thinkers of various stripes sat around a long table, arguing and drinking the night away. When I fantasize about magazine journalism, my thoughts often drift back to that: a great watering hole, the exchange of ideas, and writers retreating upstairs to put some of those ideas into words.
Alison Motluk, 5-time National Magazine Award winner

  • The Idler won Magazine of the Year in 1992 and then folded a year later.

 

1991

West Magazine wins Magazine of the Year at the National Magazine Awards, hosted for the third and final time by Pierre Berton. The magazine then folds later that year.

  • Magazines come and magazines go. Other magazines that folded the year they won a National Magazine Award: The Canadian (1979); Weekend Magazine (1979); Quest (1984); City Woman (1985); T.O. Magazine (1989); Vista (1990); Domino (1991); The Idler (1993); City & Country Home (1994); Destinations (1994); Shift (2003) Elm Street (2004); Saturday Night (2005); Toro (2007); unlimited (2008); More (2012); The Grid (2014).

 

1992

At the 15th anniversary NMA gala, Andrew Cohen of Saturday Night wins 3 medals, including the President’s Medal, for his profile of the former Prime Minister called “That Bastard Trudeau.”

  • Singer-songwriter Nancy White, of CBC fame, hosted the 15th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto.

 

1993

Paul Quarrington. Image credit: Wikicommons

Paul Quarrington wins his first of two consecutive NMA gold medals in Humour, for Harrowsmith magazine (he would later win a third humour award for Outdoor Canada). The beloved novelist, playwright, musician, and magazine writer passed away in 2010, shortly after writing his final memoir, Cigar Box Banjo: Notes on Music and Life.

  • At the 1993 NMAs Yann Martel, later the author of The Life of Pi, won the gold medal in Fiction for a story in The Malahat Review.

 

1994

The One-of-a-Kind category makes its NMA debut, celebrating magazine writing whose style or content is so unique it just can’t be classified into any other category. Zoe Landale, writing in Saturday Night, wins the first gold medal.

  • Toronto Life won 5 straight gold medals in One-of-a-Kind from 2001-2006, but The Walrus has won the last 4 heading into 2017. Check out this year’s nominees.

 

1995

Catherine Keachie, the long-time president of the Canadian Magazine Publishers’ Association, is presented with the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. Keachie was also an instructor of journalism at Ryerson University and today the program offers an annual scholarship in her memory.

In order for us to make the case for how Canadian magazines mattered, Catherine knew that it was essential for the industry to work together. The major publishers needed the cultural legitimacy of the small and literary publishers. The smalls and literaries needed the financial and political heft of the bigs… Catherine’s words have guided me throughout my career, and her passion for the possibility of what the many talented people in this industry can accomplish together continues to inspire me.
Kim Pittaway, on Catherine Keachie’s inspiration to her career, from Kim’s acceptance speech at the 2016 NMAs

 

1996

For the only time in its history, the NMAs present an award for best Display Writing, at a gala hosted for the first time by Ian Brown. Vancouver Magazine wins the award, but the category is discontinued the following year.

  • In 2008 Julia Belluz won the NMA Best Student Writer Award for her profile of Ian Brown in the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

 

1997

Photo Edward Burtynsky 

Edward Burtynsky wins the gold medal in Photojournalism for his famous “Tailings” series—highlighting the environmentally degrading waste produced by heavy industry—published in Canadian Art.

 

1998

Hosting the NMA gala for the second consecutive year, Massey College master John Fraser presents the Outstanding Achievement Award to former Saturday Night editor Robert Fulford.

  • Since 1978, Fulford has won more NMA gold medals (15) than any other writer or artist. But fashion photographer Chris Nicholls is the winningest creator in NMA history, with 20 total medals (10 gold; 10 silver).

 

1999

Jane O’Hara’s investigative report “Rape in the Military” (Maclean’s) wins two National Magazine Awards, including the President’s Medal. It remains one of the most significant and studied feature stories in the history of Canadian magazines.

It [“Rape in the Military”] was such a groundbreaking and heartbreaking story—20 years later, it haunts me still. The raw honesty of the women who shared their stories, and the abusive betrayal of those who destroyed their lives and careers. You can feel the mastery of the interviewer in how she was able to get these victims to open up to her and feel her sensitivity in how she told the story.
– Dawn Chafe, editor-in-chief, Atlantic Business Magazine

 

2000

The upstart Shift magazine wins 9 National Magazine Awards, including a sweep for art directors Carmen Dunjko and Malcolm Brown in the categories Art Direction and Best Cover. From 1994 until it folded in 2003, Shift won 27 NMAs and became a notorious rival to Saturday Night. After the magazine won its huge haul of awards, much to the chagrin of its critics, editor Laas Turnbull told The Globe and Mail: “I have found that people’s reaction to Shift often says a great deal more about them than it does about the magazine. It’s so unusual to launch something new in this country and then to actually survive.”

Shift on Beck… never forget it.
– Malcolm Brown, 15-time National Magazine Award-winning art director

 

2001

The National Magazine Awards expands to 37 categories, up from 14 at the 1978 awards. George Whiteside wins the first gold medal in the category Food Photography, for President’s Choice magazine. (The category is discontinued in 2003.)

  • Other discontinued categories in the history of the NMAs include Conceptual Photography, Food Writing, Leisure Pursuits, Community Feature, Studio Photography, Best Repurposed or Adapted Content, and Best New Magazine.

 

2002

George Elliott Clarke. Photo credit: Carmelita Linta / CBC

George Elliott Clarke wins the gold medal in Poetry, for a suite of six poems in Prairie Fire.

  • Prairie Fire has won 15 National Magazine Awards since 1996, most recently a silver medal in 2016 for Poetry (Harold Hoefle).

 

2003

Don Obe. Photo by John Reeves

For the 25th NMA gala, Don Obe edits a special anniversary magazine featuring the top stories, issues, photography, and design from each year since the first National Magazine Awards. A beloved Ryerson University instructor and former editor at Maclean’s, The Canadian, and Toronto Life, Obe received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1994. He passed away in 2014.

  • At the 25th anniversary NMA gala, hosted by Second City comedienne Judy Croon, Adbusters won for Best Art Direction of a Single Article, The New Quarterly swept the gold medals in Fiction and Poetry, Elm Street won for Portrait Photography, and Outpost won Magazine of the Year.

 

2004

Marci McDonald’s investigation into Paul Martin’s controversial private business dealings, published in the inaugural issue of The Walrus, wins that magazine its first (of many) National Magazine Awards.

  • Marci McDonald won the gold medal in Business at the very first NMAs in 1978, and has won 11 in total since then. In 2017 she served on the NMA jury in the category Long-Form Feature Writing.

 

2005

Gerald Hannon is a double gold medallist for his story “The Eyes of Edward Burtynsky” (Toronto Life) in the categories Profiles and Arts & Entertainment.

Lynn Cunningham, my editor at Toronto Life, assigned me a major feature on the AIDS crisis in 1988 when I had no magazine experience and when I was mostly known for having been on trial for publishing immoral, indecent, or scurrilous matter. She took a chance on me, and thanks to her support and encouragement my writing career took off.
– Gerald Hannon, 13-time National Magazine Award-winning writer

 

2006

The June 1969 cover of Saturday Night

Saturday Night, after folding (for the second and final time) in November the previous year, wins 7 National Magazine Awards, bringing its legendary haul to 231 NMAs since 1978. The same night, The Walrus breaks Saturday Night’s record by winning 13 gold medals (and 16 overall).

  • In 2015, Toronto Life finally passed Saturday Night for most NMAs in history, when writer Lauren McKeon won the gold medal in Personal Journalism for “Save Me From My Workout.” Toronto Life now has 244 NMAs heading into the 2017 awards.

 

2007

Program cover of the 30th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Illustration by Dan Page. Art direction by Levi Nicholson.

At the 30th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala at the Carlu in Toronto, Scott Feschuk hosts, David Gilmour‘s “My Life with Tolstoy” is a double gold medal winner, and The Walrus wins Magazine of the Year. Jeremy Klaszus is presented with the award for Best New Magazine Writer (formerly known as the Alexander Ross Award) for his investigation into unsavoury practices in Alberta’s oil industry, published in Alberta Views.

 

2008

Maisonneuve’s “Food Issue,” featuring a cover photo of miniature explorers attempting a dangerous crossing of the surface of a crème brûlée, wins the gold medal for Best Magazine Cover (art direction by Anna Minzhulina).

  • Recently the NMAF’s Richard A. Johnson interviewed Anna Minzhulina about her ten-year tenure at Maisonneuve, her creative process as an art director, and the importance of supporting emerging women magazine artists.

 

2009

Chris Turner wins the gold medal in Essays for “The Big Decision” (Alberta Views), arguing in favour of nuclear energy at a time when the province’s Oil Sands are booming.

  • Moose Jaw native Chris Turner, a 9-time NMA winner, hosted the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala, featuring a cameo from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

 

2010

Up Here magazine, published in Yellowknife, wins Magazine of the Year, becoming the first magazine from Canada’s North to win the grand prize.

  • At the 2010 National Magazine Awards gala, Terry Sellwood of Cottage Life Media received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. At the 2017 gala, Penny Caldwell will become the third member of the Cottage Life family to win the award, after Terry and founder Al Zikovitz (2002).

 

2011

Image: CBC

Sean Michaels wins the One-of-a-Kind gold medal for an account of his exploration of the catacombs of Paris, published in Brick. Michaels would later go on to win the Giller Prize for his novel, Us Conductors.

  • Other NMA winners for Brick literary magazine include Michael Ondaatje (1981), Alex Pugsley (2005), Patrick deWitt (2013), and Linda Spalding (2014), all in the Fiction category.

 

2012

The Grid, a weekly Toronto city magazine that launched the previous May, wins six National Magazine Awards, including three gold medals for art director Vanessa Wyse. The Grid’s boisterous cheering section remains one of the most enduring memories of its first NMA gala.

  • In 2013 The Grid won 7 National Magazine Awards, edging The Walrus (6). It’s the only time since 2004 that winningest magazine at the NMAs was not Toronto Life or The Walrus.

 

2013

For the first time, the NMAs honour outstanding achievement by tablet editions. Canadian House & Home wins the first award for Tablet Magazine of the Year.

  • In subsequent years, Today’s Parent and Sportsnet won the National Magazine Award for Tablet Magazine of the Year. The award was discontinued in 2016 as the NMAF launched the Digital Publishing Awards to recognize achievement in Canadian digital publishing. The 2017 Digital Publishing Awards are coming up on June 1.

 

2014

Edmonton newcomer Eighteen Bridges magazine wins four National Magazine Awards among 11 nominations, including two gold medals for editor and feature writer Curtis Gillespie.

  • In 2016 Eighteen Bridges also won four NMAs, including the gold medal in Investigative Reporting. Recently the NMAF’s Richard A. Johnson interviewed journalist Virgil Grandfield about his incredible 10-year investigation of human trafficking and murder related to Red Cross reconstruction projects in Indonesia.

Also, remember this:

 

2015

Crimes sexuels dans l’armée,” an extensive investigative report by journalists Noémi Mercier and Alec Castonguay about sexual assault in the Canadian military, published in L’actualité, wins two gold medals (Investigative Reporting and Politics & Public Interest).

  • Lainey Lui and Jessica Allen from CTV’s “The Social” co-hosted the 38th NMA gala in 2015, featuring a cameo by 4-time host Scott Feschuk.

 

2016

Desmond Cole accepts the award for Best New Magazine Writer to a standing ovation at the 2016 National Magazine Awards in Toronto (Photo: Steven Goetz / National Magazine Awards Foundation)

Desmond Cole is nominated for four National Magazine Awards for his exposé of Toronto police discrimination against the city’s Black community, “The Skin I’m In” (Toronto Life). Cole wins the gold medal for Best New Magazine Writer and two silver medals (Essays and Personal Journalism), and receives a standing ovation on stage at the gala.


Take a deeper dive into the history of the National Magazine Award by perusing the NMA archive.

The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards will be held on Friday, May 26, at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. Tickets are on sale now. Check out all the nominees.

Not able to make it to the gala? Follow our exciting live tweet @MagAwards to catch all the live action.

Off the Page, with Today’s Parent editor Sasha Emmons

Sasha Emmons (photo by Roberto Caruso)
Sasha Emmons (photo by Roberto Caruso)

This week on Off the Page–our interview series with National Magazine Award winners–we’re chatting with Sasha Emmons, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Parent magazine. 

NMAF: Today’s Parent had a banner year at the 2015 National Magazine Awards—8 nominations and 4 Gold Medals including Best Single Issue, Best Web Editorial Package, Single Service Article Package, and Tablet Magazine of the Year. Can you describe the feeling that you and your team experienced that night of the awards gala?

Sasha Emmons: It’s such a cliché but we were just so giddy to be nominated. I’m new to the Canadian publishing scene but I understood that parenting publications rarely get nominated, much less win. So it was pretty surreal to hear our name not just once but four times, especially considering the quality of work from all the nominees. I wish I’d spent more time working on speeches — I really thought there was no way I’d be up there.

Sasha Emmons of Today's Parent accepts the award for Best Single Issue at the 2015 National Magazine Awards gala.
Sasha Emmons of Today’s Parent accepts the award for Best Single Issue at the 2015 National Magazine Awards gala.

NMAF: What has been the significance to you, your team and your readers from winning the National Magazine Awards? 

Sasha Emmons: I think for us it was incredible validation that our digital-driven but platform-agnostic approach to creating content was working. We regularly get caught up in excitement for our projects, and sometimes we lose objectivity and wonder if what we’re working on is as cool as we think it is. Seeing our risks pay off, both with awards but also with audience engagement and amazing feedback, has also given us motivation to keep pushing ourselves to try new, bold things.

The awards have certainly made the industry take notice of us, and that’s led to really talented editors, designers and new partners knocking on our door, wanting to work with or be part of our incredible team.

NMAF: Winning the award for Tablet Magazine of the Year must have been particularly special. How has Today’s Parent developed its presence on the tablet magazine platform, what challenges have you faced in delivering digital content, and how has it been successful?

Sasha Emmons: I really wanted to win for tablet. After we close our print issue, the editors get a bit of reprieve but not our art team, who work long hours on a platform where we have fewer readers than print.

For our busy parents, there’s not a lot of Sunday morning long-reads lounging, and many can’t take out the iPad without their kids clamouring for it. The phone is more our device, and we actually create an iPhone edition each month as well. But despite a huge digital audience that’s largely mobile, the idea of consuming an issue on a phone or tablet hasn’t quite caught on in a big way yet. But it’s growing, and we’re hopeful it will continue to grow.

Our art director Sun Ngo has incredibly high standards but she also promotes a culture of playful experimentation. Her leadership and her team’s hard work are the reason our tablet edition is so great, and I was beyond thrilled to see her be acknowledged for that.

Her philosophy is both simple and complex. She’s laser-focused on making the content readable, with clear text and directional icons. We never want to get so enamoured of bells and whistles that we forget about usability. But then she and her designers go the extra mile, creating gorgeous animated covers, making food and crafts pinnable, integrating video and playing with stop animation.

I really believe our tablet edition is the best, richest way to read Today’s Parent.

NMAF: The package called “30 Awesome Cupcakes” (Gold Medal winner in Single Service Article Package) has been the most tweeted, most viewed article in our awards archive since June, doubtless because it’s just about the most attractive cover line imaginable, and also because the layout is so eye-catching, so much fun. How is that piece exemplary of the editorial mission of Today’s Parent? (And did you get to try all the cupcakes?)

Sasha Emmons: I didn’t know that, and it’s so great to hear. It is one of the great professional regrets of my life I was not on set that day. However, I have to give credit where it’s due and say that this story was already in the works when I started at Today’s Parent, so really Karine Ewart and Alicia Kowalewski, the editor-in-chief and art director at the time, deserve the credit. I did write the line though!

Overall, we aim for a mix of daring, zeitgeisty content, and smart, creative bread-and-butter service. This piece falls into the latter — after all, every parent has to figure out how to pull off their kid’s birthday.

 

NMAF: You’ve called raising two kids “the most humbling thing” you’ve ever done. (“There are moments where I feel like I’ve nailed it, but there are still so many moments where I have no idea what I’m doing.”) How does your daily experience as a parent help guide your leadership of the magazine, and your understanding of what your readers want you to deliver?

Sasha Emmons: I feel like the parents on staff have the best scam going. One of us has an issue with our kid, and we get to talk to leading experts on exactly how to handle it! Seriously, it’s such a privilege that my professional life is centred around what interests me most personally as well.

It’s hugely useful to be a parent and have many moms and dads on staff to gut-check everything we write. Believe me, I’m struggling with everything our readers are struggling with. Overall, I think there are a lot of ways to get parenting right, and only a few ways to get it wrong, and that laughing about its challenges makes the whole thing easier.

I hope that comes through in our content.


Discover more about Today’s Parent at todaysparent.com and on Twitter @TodaysParent, and follow Sasha Emmons @semmons. The mobile edition of the magazine can be found here

The 2016 National Magazine Awards are now open for submissions.

Check out more of our Off the Page interviews with NMA winners, including editors like:
Patrick Walsh of Outdoor Canada
Judith Pereira of Report on Business
Mark Reid of Canada’s History
Curtis Gillespie of Eighteen Bridges

The Call for Entries for the 2016 National Magazine Awards will be announced on December 8. 

NMA laureates Robyn Sarah, Guy Vanderhaeghe win Governor General’s Literary Awards

Robyn Sarah. Photo by Allen McEachern (via Canada Council for the Arts)
Robyn Sarah. Photo by Allen McEachern (via Canada Council for the Arts)

Montreal poet Robyn Sarah and Saskatchewan author Guy Vanderhaeghe, both previously National Magazine Award winners, have been named the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award winners for poetry and fiction, as announced by Canada Council for the Arts this morning.

The work of both writers and all the other finalists for the #GGBooks fiction and poetry prizes first appeared in one or more of Canada’s literary magazines, demonstrating yet again how important our cultural magazines are to fostering a strong and vibrant Canadian literary community.

In the spring of 2012 Robyn Sarah published a poem in The New Quarterly issue #122 called “My Shoes Are Killing Me (a poem in nine movements),” which went on to be nominated for a National Magazine Award. Three years later, now expanded into a collection of poetry under the same title, Robyn Sarah’s work has won one of Canadian poetry’s highest honours.

 

Robyn Sarah won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1993 (for “Accept my Story” in the Malahat Review), and she has also twice been nominated for her critical essays in TNQ.

Two other #GGBooks poetry finalists are NMA laureates. Patrick Lane has won 3 National Magazine Awards for his poetry, most recently for “Arroyo” published in VallumKayla Czaga was a National Magazine Award poetry finalist in 2014, for “Song” and other poems in Arc Poetry Magazine.

Guy Vanderhaeghe was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in fiction this year for his story “Tick Tock” in Prairie Fire. His latest book of short fiction, Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, was named the #GGBooks winner this year, the third time he’s won the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Fellow #GGBooks fiction nominee Helen Humphreys was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2012 for her essay “Natural History” in Queen’s Quarterly.

Read more about this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award winners at ggbooks.ca.

And check out some of this fall’s great writing contests from Canadian literary magazines.

NMAF partners with Indigo Books & Music on national newsstand promotion

Newsstand Promo Sign ENG FinalFor the second year, the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) is partnering with Indigo Books & Music Inc. to launch a nationwide newsstand promotion designed to increase awareness about Canada’s top award-winning magazines published in both official languages.

With this strategic initiative, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Government of Canada, the NMAF strives to provide award-winning Canadian publishers the opportunity to cost-effectively maintain or improve newsstand sales, subscriptions and magazine visibility within the highly competitive North American market by jointly marketing their nationally recognized award on newsstands.

From October 19th to November 29th, this year’s participating award-winning publications will be displayed in a special NMA newsstand frame in 91 Indigo superstores across the country. Magazines taking part in this initiative include 2015 Magazine of the Year winner Nouveau Projet, as well as award winners Canadian Business, Chatelaine, Cottage Life, FASHION Magazine, L’actualité, Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, MoneySense, Sportsnet, The New Quarterly, The Walrus, Today’s Parent, Toronto Life, Vancouver Magazine and Western Living.

The NMAF, whose mandate is to recognize and promote award-winning Canadian magazines and content, strives to implement initiatives that help publications thrive in the evolving magazine industry. With this newsstand promotional campaign, the Foundation is providing publishers with a distinctive opportunity to leverage their prestigious award in order to maximize their impact on newsstands.

This promotional initiative was launched for the first time in 2014. During the four weeks of the pilot project, 3,401 copies of 15 NMA award-winning titles were sold and a number of participating magazines reported an increase in sales varying from 15% to 67%.

The 38th annual National Magazine Awards took place on June 5, 2015. Visit www.magazine-awards.com to view the complete list of this year’s award-winning magazines as well as past winners in our free public archive.


The National Magazine Awards Foundation acknowledges the financial support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. The NMAF also gratefully thanks Indigo Books & Music Inc. for their generous support of the NMA newsstand promotion. The NMAF would also like to thank CNW Group.

 


Participating magazines this year include:

 

An Adventurous Literary Travel Itinerary (Summer Magazine Reading Series, No. 7)

Your intrepid Mag Awards blogger just returned from canoeing a great long river in Maine, where at dawn the moose pose in water while eating their grassy breakfast, and at dusk either the rain or the mosquitoes force you into the tent where you’re glad to have packed a pile of magazines to read before the ache of a long day of j-strokes puts you to sleep.

Whether you’ve got your feet up at the cottage in a Muskoka chair by the dock, or you’re stormbound in a tent deep in moose-land, summer is even more adventurous with a great magazine travel story.

This year’s National Magazine Awards travel-writing finalists brought us to many exciting places: to India, where tea is born in the Himalaya foothills; to northern British Columbia, on a haunted glacier; to Jerusalem, for a Kafkaesque citrus heist; to Newfoundland, where a cottage by any other name smells as fishy; to Brazil, in angular shadows of modern architecture; to San Francisco, where technology guides the tour; to Nunavut and Chicago and the middle of Lake Superior, all in the service of a literary sense of place.

Our summer magazine reading series continues this week with travel stories nominated at the 2015 National Magazine Awards. Make this your literary travel itinerary before summer sadly ends.

Au paradis des thés

Category: Travel–Gold Medal winner
Author: Marie-Soleil Deshautels
Magazine: L’actualité

Plusieurs critères déterminent si un thé sera ou non un « grand cru », notamment l’uniformité, la brillance et la taille des feuilles. Les meilleurs thés ont une fragrance et un goût jugés fins ou complexes.

Synopsis: An intrepid journey to the heart of India’s tea-producing northeast: Darjeeling, in the Himalaya foothills south of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain. National Magazine Award-winning writer Marie-Soleil Deshautels explores the cycle of tea production from the seed to the cup to the exportation to Canada, examining the science that is helping tea producers meet new global demand, and the art of brewing the perfect cup. Read the story.

Another great read: The silver medal in Travel went to Eric Dupont for “Vivre à belo horizonte” (L’actualité), an architectural tour of the work of Oscar Niemeyer in Brazil.

Lemon from Sheikh Jarrah

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Karen Connelly
Magazine: Geist

“Who took this button off your computer?” It fell off; it broke. “When?” Several years ago. It kept falling off. I just threw it away. “But not here, not while you were in Israel.” No. I was here for just over a week. “Are you sure?”

Synopsis: One of those rare dispatches from Israel/Palestine that doesn’t get tripped up over politics or bogged down by the pro-/anti- arguments, award-winning poet Karen Connelly’s elegantly simple story in the form of a letter to the lone Palestinian woman she met on an official tour of Jerusalem provides readers a fresh and authentic sense of place in an otherwise unfalteringly complex–and at times darkly comical–experience of visiting the region.

Another great read: Dan Robson of Sportsnet won Honourable Mention in Travel for “Home and Really Far Away,” which won the Gold Medal in Sports & Recreation and was profiled in the first edition of our Summer Magazine Reading Series.

Death on a Glacier

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Jon Turk
Magazine: Explore

“The air became electric and the hair stood up on the backs of our necks,” Bill told me. “It was one of those moments that don’t dim with time. I can imagine every vivid detail to this day.” The three hunters had discovered the body of that ancient warrior, now known as Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchí — “Long Ago Person Found.”

Synopsis: Fifteen years ago, three hunters travelling around a glacier in the Tatshenshini-Alsek wilderness of northern British Columbia discovered the partial remains of a young native man who had apparently died while attempting to cross a high mountain pass more than three centuries earlier. Now, as scientific analysis has revealed much of the biography of the man posthumously named Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchí, writer Jon Turk joins the hunters as they return to the place of discovery to re-imagine his life and ponder the mysteries that remain. Read the story.

Another great read: Explore magazine also won Honourable Mention for “Across the Little North” by Conor Mihell, an account of a month-long canoe expedition through remote northwestern Ontario.

The Other Fifth Avenue

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Lisa Moore
Magazine: Cottage Life

I stop to ask for directions from a man who’s chopping wood. When I say I’m looking for Jen Ford’s place, he pauses and looks deliberately at the horizon. “The Ford place,” he says. “Nope, never heard of it.” He gives the wood chunk sitting on the chopping block a hard smack with the axe. It splits with a loud, splintering thwack. Then he says, “Oh, wait a minute, you mean Phil’s place. A few cabins back. You just drove past it.”

Synopsis: Award-winning novellist and Newfoundland native Lisa Moore takes a rural road trip to the summer “cabins” (don’t call them cottages in Newfoundland) to discover the depth of the islanders’ appreciation for the traditional way of life, revolving around family stories, music, fishing, berry-based cuisine, “corn toss,” and never-ending home-improvement projects that bring entire communities together. Read the story.

Another great read: Cottage Life won a second Honourable Mention in Travel for “Dreamlandia” by NMA winner Charles Wilkins, set in Nirivia, a little-known trout-fishing paradise on an island in Lake Superior.

Bright Lights, Tech City

Category: Travel–Honourable Mention
Author: Andrew Braithwaite
Magazine: enRoute

“I’ve never been here before,” says Arieff. Good words to hear from a professed urban flaneur. Based on a 2009 project to map hidden spaces, SPUR launched the app in 2012. It leads curious explorers to unexpected downtown oases, like this rooftop deck off a poorly signed staircase in the corner of a retail mall.

Synopsis: Canadian ex-pat and NMA winner Andrew Braithwaite serves up five fresh views on his adopted city of San Francisco, visiting traditional tourist hotspots with technology of the sort made famous in Silicon Valley–hiking the Coastal Trail with the latest fitness-measuring gadgets; visiting the Exploratorium with a roboticist; trying out new apps to locate a POPOS (“privately owned public open space”). It’s the San Fran of the future, the city reaching the maturity of its latest techno-boom. Read the story.

Another great read: Andrew Braithwaite and enRoute magazine also received Honourable Mention for “South Side Story,” about the regeneration of Chicago’s post-industrial south side.


Subscribe to our blog to receive our Summer Magazine Reading Series in your inbox each week, and follow us on Twitter (@MagAwards) for updates and magazine news and promotions.

Did you know? You can download and read all of the National Magazine Awards finalists and winners for FREE in our online archive, at magazine-awards.com/archive.

Stay tuned for another Summer Magazine Reading Series edition next Thursday.

Moose photos by Richard A. Johnson.

Summer Magazine Reading Series, No. 6: Oh. Canada?

The sixth serving of our summer reading series has a palpable WTF flavour to it; three stories that have the power to shock you through the sheer unlikelihood of their situations, the terrible injustice inherent in their contexts, and the unusual and even frightening characters they bring to light.

An epidemic of sexual assault threatens the integrity of Canada’s armed forces. Creation “scientists” re-interpret the history of the world during the Alberta floods. A homegrown terrorist hitchhikes his way to his own death.

All three of these stories won Gold Medals at the 2015 National Magazine Awards.

 

Sex Crimes in the Military

Categories: Investigative Reporting, Politics & Public Interest (double gold winner)
Authors: Noémi Mercier and Alec Castonguay
Magazine: L’actualité (French; republished in English in Maclean’s)

Every day, five individuals in the Canadian military community become victims of sexual assault.

Synopsis: An original investigation by two reporters from the French-language current affairs magazine L’actualité and published under the headline “Crimes sexuels dans l’armée,” this incredible work of journalism pieces together the facts and stats, the court marshals and testimonies, the victims’ perspectives and the military context, and the efforts to cover up, to expose, and to resolve the shockingly common occurrences of sexual assault in Canada’s armed forces. This is Canadian magazine journalism at its finest.

National Magazine Award winners Noémi Mercier and Alec Castonguay spent months investigating and writing this story for L’actualité, and it was the only nominee to receive 2 gold medals at the 2015 National Magazine Awards. The story was translated and republished in Maclean’s. Read the original French; read the English translation.

It took a shy, but courageous, Aboriginal teenager to finally put a stop to Wilks’s behaviour. In December 2009, 17-year-old Robbie Williams walked out of Wilks’s examination room in tears and called the police. A long list of victims followed her example. “I knew something wasn’t right as soon as I walked in the room. You wanna meet the right procedures and everything, so I followed through with everything he got me to do. For a long time after that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. He made me feel worthless.”

Bonus reads: The silver medallist in Politics & Public Interest is Jake Macdonald’s “The Cost of Freedom” (Report on Business), which looks at the future of prairie agriculture following the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board.

The silver medallist in Investigative Reporting is Joe Castaldo’s riveting story for Canadian Business titled “The Entirely True Tale of the Man Who Had an Idea, Borrowed a Boat from Neil Young, Dumped Iron in the Ocean, Angered the Vatican, Ticked Off the United Nations, and Tore a Small Town Apart—Just to Make Some Salmon Happy.”

 

Water Upon the Earth

Category: Essays
Author: Andrea Bennett
Magazine: Maisonneuve

“I am going to put an end to all people,” God says, “for the Earth is filled with violence because of them.”

Synopsis: Nearly half of Canadians believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, and many of these believers subscribe to one or another version of Christian Biblical literalism which holds that geological, paleontological and anthropological time that science measures in millions or even billions of years in fact is measured in mere thousands since the time God created the Earth in six days.

National Magazine Award winner Andrea Bennett takes an inquisitive road trip to the Big Valley Creation Science Museum in central Alberta—harrowingly coincidental to the near-apocalyptic deluge which flooded much of that province in June of 2013—getting to know some of the adherents to and critics of the Young Earth Creationism movement, and reflecting on the parallel (and sometimes intersecting) historical gazes of science and faith. Read the story.

Henderson himself grew up in what he describes as a “rather strict” Presbyterian household—grace at every meal, church on Sunday, Bible reading in the afternoons at his grandmother’s. When he was fifteen, he began to see some contradictions between his faith and science. “Strangely,” he said, “my dad bought me this book called The Evidence for Evolution. When he gave it to me, he said, ‘Now I don’t want you to believe everything in this book.’”

Bonus read: The silver medallist in Essays is Jody Smiling’s “Through the Rockies” (Prism International), a pristinely articulated meditation on the family road trip.

 

My Hitchhiker, the Parliament Hill Gunman

Category: Best Short Feature
Author: Michael Friscolanti
Magazine: Maclean’s

“Where are you going?” Bekkering asked. “Calgary,” answered the man. “This is your lucky day.”

Synopsis: The terrifying assault on Parliament last October was like a nightmare come true for many Canadians: 21st-century Islamic terrorism hitting home. For one Calgary man, an agricultural consultant named Harry Bekkering, the frenzy of national anxiety and media coverage eventually illuminated a familiar face: the Ottawa gunman was a taciturn, purportedly devout man to whom he’d given a well-meaning lift across the Rocky Mountains just a month earlier. As the country came to grips with the tragedy and its context, Bekkering came to realize that his unlikely passenger was not a true believer but a tragic, alienated figure in need of help; help he never got.

National Magazine Award winner Michael Friscolanti profiles Mr. Bekkering, reconstructing the voyage from Chilliwack to Calgary and his subject’s evolving observations about Michael Zehaf Bibeau. Read the story.

A month after the shooting, Bekkering still struggles with feelings of guilt. Should he have spotted a warning sign? Was Michael already planning his attack when he climbed into the truck? Or did his inability to secure a passport, either Libyan or Canadian, push him over the edge?

Bonus read: The silver medallist in Best Short Feature, Elizabeth Renzetti’s “Ayahuasca (Mis)Adventures” (ELLE Canada) needs little further introduction beyond the mention that ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic herbal brew reported to have divinatory properties.

 


Subscribe to our blog to receive our Summer Magazine Reading Series in your inbox each week, and follow us on Twitter (@MagAwards) for updates and magazine news and promotions.

Did you know? You can download and read all of the National Magazine Awards finalists and winners for FREE in our online archive, at magazine-awards.com/archive.

Stay tuned for another Summer Magazine Reading Series edition next Thursday.

Lectures estivales de la Fondation: découvertes

Les magazines québécois se sont illustrés lors des derniers Prix du magazine canadien, en réalisant une impressionnante récolte de prix. Vous n’avez pas encore eu l’occasion de lire les textes primés? Qu’à cela ne tienne! Cette semaine, la Fondation vous propose de découvrir les textes primés dans les catégories Société et Santé et médecine. D’abord, un texte fascinant sur l’intersexualité signé par Mylène Tremblay pour le magazine Châtelaine, suivi d’un reportage de Marie-Pier Elie paru dans le magazine Québec Science, qui a aussi valu à la journaliste un Grand Prix du journalisme indépendant.

Pour la cinquième édition de nos lectures estivales nous présentons la meilleure écriture magazine du Québec de l’année passée.

Intersexualité. Rencontre du troisième sexe

Catégorie : Société
Auteure : Mylène Tremblay
Magazine : Châtelaine

En bref : Un bébé vient au monde. On déclare alors le sexe : c’est un garçon! C’est une fille! Mais la réalité n’est pas toujours aussi simple, comme le rapporte la journaliste Mylène Tremblay, qui s’est intéressée au phénomène méconnu de l’intersexualité. Chez certains individus, « le corps ne correspond ni à la définition type d’un homme ni à celle d’une femme ». On les qualifie alors d’intersexes.

Si l’on en entend peu parler, ce sujet est pourtant d’autant plus d’actualité qu’il y a aujourd’hui davantage d’intersexes.

« Le phénomène existe depuis la nuit des temps, mais s’est accentué au cours des 50 dernières années, constatent des spécialistes internationaux. La faute, notamment, aux facteurs environnementaux (…) ».

Bien que les opinions divergent dans la communauté médicale sur la démarche à privilégier, il y a consensus sur la complexité de ces cas. N’est plus systématique de procéder à une intervention chirurgicale visant à attribuer aux individus un sexe spécifique en bas âge.

« Des erreurs, il y en a eu et il y en a encore. Beaucoup. Dès la fin des années 1950, presque tous les bébés intersexes des pays occidentaux sont passés sous le bistouri ». Mylène Tremblay a rencontré des intersexes qui témoignent des répercussions que ces interventions ont eues sur leur développement.

Un reportage de Mylène Tremblay à lire sans faute!

Immunothérapie. Le nouvel espoir

Catégorie : Santé et médecine
Auteure : Marie-Pier Elie
Magazine : Québec Science

En bref : Dans ce reportage, la journaliste propose aux lecteurs une incursion dans l’univers de la recherche sur l’immunothérapie, une forme de traitement expérimental contre le cancer porteur d’espoir pour les patients qui ne répondent pas aux traitements conventionnels. À la différence des traitements répandus, comme la chimiothérapie, la radiothérapie ou la chirurgie, l’immunothérapie fait appel aux défenses naturelles du corps humain pour combattre les cellules cancéreuses.

La journaliste s’est rendue au National Cancer Institute du Maryland pour y rencontrer le Dr Steven Rosenberg, un chirurgien qui s’intéresse à l’immunothérapie depuis les années 60. Les traitements qui sont offerts aux malades sont adaptés aux individus et n’ont parfois jamais été tentés auparavant. Les patients s’offrent donc comme « cobayes ». Si les traitements fonctionnent dans certains cas, étant expérimentaux, ils ne produisent pas toujours les effets escomptés. Mais pour ces personnes qui n’ont plus rien à perdre, l’immunothérapie se présente comme l’ultime recours.

«La seule raison d’être de notre groupe de recherche est le développement de la médecine de demain, pas la pratique de la médecine d’aujourd’hui. Nous n’offrons donc aucun traitement de routine ». – Dr Steven Rosenberg

Si de nombreux traitements se sont soldés par un échec, des vies ont aussi été épargnées, alors qu’il n’y avait que peu, voire plus d’espoir. Comme celle d’Emily Whitehead, une petite fille atteinte d’une leucémie diagnostiquée incurable, que les traitements d’immunothérapie ont sauvée contre toute attente.

Découvrez ce reportage instructif et fascinant de Marie-Pier Elie.


Ces textes vous ont donné la piqûre de la lecture? Parcourez les archives de la Fondation pour lire tous les articles qui ont récolté les honneurs cette année. Voici quelques suggestions :

Médaille d’or :

Crimes sexuels dans l’armée
Noémi Mercier, Alec CastonguayL’actualité
Catégories : Politique et affaires publiques, Journalisme d’enquête

Au paradis des thés
Marie-Soleil DesautelsL’actualité
Catégorie : Voyages

La pointe des utopies
Rémy Bourdillon, Pierre-Yves Cezard – Nouveau Projet
Catégorie : Paroles et images

Médaille d’argent :

Régénérescences
Collectif – Nouveau Projet
Catégorie : Dossier thématique : imprimé

Place au cannabiz !
Marc-André Sabourin – L’actualité
Catégorie : Affaires

Le futur fait bonne impression 
Marine CorniouQuébec Science
Catégorie : Science, technologie et environnement

Halte au surdiagnostic !
Valérie BordeL’actualité
Catégorie : Santé et médecine

Vivre À Belo Horizonte  
Eric DupontL’actualité
Catégorie : Voyages

Un bateau pour l’enfer
Michel ArseneaultL’actualité
Catégorie : Article hors catégorie

Dette du Québec : rien ne justifie la panique, Santé : où trouver les milliards?, Du bon usage des compressions
Pierre FortinL’actualité
Catégorie : Chroniques