Tonight we honour and celebrate Canada’s top writers, artists, and other creators at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards.
Where: The Arcadian Court, 401 Bay Street, Simpson Tower, 8th Floor, Toronto [MAP] When:
7:30pm Awards presentation
9:45pm Dessert reception Why: To recognize and celebrate excellence in the content and creation of Canadian magazines. And to acknowledge the outstanding work of Canada’s top creators and the significance of great journalism.
Have a ticket?
If you purchased a ticket and did not request it to be mailed, you can pick up your ticket at the Will-Call tables at the top of the elevators at the Arcadian Court. Judges may also pick up their tickets here.
Need a ticket?
Tickets are available for purchase at the door: $150 (+HST) for regular tickets (includes dinner); $75 (+HST) for show-only tickets. Cash or Credit Card accepted.
What about the rest of the nominees?
Check out all the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards, or read the PDF for a quick reference.
Not able to come?
Follow our twitter handle @MagAwards and #NMA40for a cascade of exciting live tweets throughout the show. Keep it right here on this blog for a full recap of the awards and all the winners (sometime after 10pm ET).
10 Tips for a Successful #NMA40 Gala
Doors open at 6pm.
No need to buy drink tickets this year. Cash bar will accept cash or card. (However, drink tickets are available at the bar if you’d like to purchase and treat your team or guests.)
Hors d’oeuvres will be served during the reception (6pm-7:15pm). There will be a 30-minute break in the awards ceremony for dinner (approximately 8:30pm).
Washrooms are through the foyer and to your left as you exit.
Forty years ago a gentleman by the name of Andrew MacFarlane, who was Dean of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario, set about building a coalition of institutions to form the foundation of what would become the National Magazine Awards. The goal was to create a truly national program that would recognize individual excellence in the many aspects of the magazine industry.
Forty years later that legacy has endured. As one creator told me, winning a National Magazine Award is regarded as the pinnacle of professional achievement in our industry.
Friday evening we will welcome many of Canada’s top creators to the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards to recognize the phenomenal achievements of this year’s nominees and winners. As we pay tribute to the outstanding effort, professionalism, and raw talent of the individual creators, it is also a celebration of the broader magazine community and a nod to the people who trained the winners, mentored them, inspired them, gave them opportunities and, in many cases, took a chance on them. Our ability to nurture great Canadian creators reflects on us all.
It would have been hard for the NMAs’ founders to imagine the changes faced by the magazine industry in recent years and the impact that technology and data would play. Consumer audiences are being asked to be more savvy about the source and integrity of the media they consume, and there has never been so much competition for their time. But the principles of quality journalism and compelling art endure. All the while, magazines and the craftspeople who create them have been at the forefront of our society and culture. The diversity and breadth of this year’s nominees are a tribute to the role they play as the tastemakers, opinion-formers, trendsetters, style-shapers, curators, investigators, and artists who help to shape our national narrative and our identities as Canadians.
On the topic of change, this year’s program represents a significant renewal for the NMAs. In response to our industry consultation, we revised the categories to be much more focused on the craft that goes into creating work for a magazine and less focused on the subject matter. This enabled us to reduce the number of awards by 30 percent (making winning one an even tougher feat!). Although, with 25 awards, we still have almost double the 14 that were presented in 1977! Among other changes we have introduced, it’s exciting to think that the winners tonight were judged in part by judges from Yellowknife to St. John’s, San Francisco to New York, London to Paris—proudly elevating Canadian work on the global stage.
An enormous thank you to our sponsors and the hundreds of people who have helped bring this year’s awards to life, from the entrants to the volunteer judges and the board of directors. I’d like to add special thanks to the NMAF executive team who bring such rigour and passion to making the awards happen—Barbara Gould, Richard Johnson, Émilie Pontbriand, Leah Jensen, and Krista Robinson.
Enjoy the show! If you can’t join us, follow all the action on Twitter @MagAwards.
There are more than a thousand magazines in Canada, and each begins with a premise of delighting, surprising, and serving the needs of a community of readers. Whether they cover business or fashion, sports or food, poetry or investigative journalism, city life or international news, Canadian magazines succeed when they pursue top-quality storytelling, compelling design and packaging, innovation, and an awareness of their brand’s relationship to current and future readers.
The NMAF’s judges considered magazines from across the country for our most prestigious award, according to rigorous criteria of quality, impact, innovation, and brand awareness, relative to each magazine’s editorial mandate.
Here are the 5 finalists the National Magazine Award: Magazine of the Year:
Penny Caldwell, publisher Michelle Kelly, editor Kim Zagar, art director
Published by: Blue Ant Media
Cottage Life’s mission is to enhance and preserve the quality of cottage living, for cottagers whose cottages range from simple, off-grid-cabins to luxurious getaways. Strong how-to and service stories, inspiring ideas and tips, and engaging features about interesting cottagers allows the magazine to entertain and inspire.
Cottage Life is also nominated for a 40th anniversary National Magazine Award in the categories of One of a Kind and Service Journalism. Penny Caldwell, publisher of Cottage Life and former editor-in-chief, has been named this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award winner for her innovative and creative contributions to the Canadian magazine industry.
With a clear and creative editorial strategy that is loyal to their brand, readership, and business, Cottage Life continues to diversify its mandate, grow its audience, and excel at publishing. The magazine’s tone is perfectly playful, the stories educate and delight, and the packaging is alluring and inspires its readers to action. —National Magazine Awards Jury
Brad Liski, publisher David Webb, editor Aaron Yates, art director
Published by: My Passion Media
Explore is dedicated to publishing the best of outdoor adventure, seeking rich stories of outdoor recreation and adventure travel produced by authentic voices. Within their wide range of content, the magazine aims to always include an element of exploration in the outdoors.
Explore magazine has an extensive record of National Magazine Awards; dating back to 2001, the magazine has won 56 National Magazine Awards among more than 150 nominations. This is the third time the publication has been nominated for Magazine of the Year, having also been a finalist in 2002 and 2006.
With remarkable strength and clarity in packaging travel features, practical how-to guides, gear reviews, and more, Explore is that rare magazine in which every page engages the core audience. Its content is accessible, its writers dig deep into their stories, and its no surprise that the magazine’s readership is growing fast. —National Magazine Awards Jury
Nicolas Langelier, publisher and editor-in-chief Jean-François Proulx, art director
Published by: Atelier 10
Nouveau Projet is a culture and society magazine, aiming to stimulate and nurture public debate through curious, sincere, and deep-seated articles. Though the magazine is only five years old, it isn’t new to the Magazine of the Year award. 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that the Montreal-based publication has been a finalist for Magazine of the Year, winning in 2015 and taking Honourable Mention in 2014 and 2016.
Nouveau Project is also nominated for a total of 8 awards this year, including Essays, Fiction, Poetry, Art Direction of an Entire Issue, Art Direction of a Single Magazine Article, and Best Words & Pictures.
In the quality of its writing, visual content and design, Nouveau Projet is simply mind-blowing. The magazine surprises and delights readers with big ideas, fresh and original journalism, and beautiful illustrations that complete a thoughtful aesthetic. The magazine’s commitment to developing a strong community of readers is laudatory. —National Magazine Awards Jury
Brigitte Coutu, publisher Laura Osborne, editor-in-chief Caroline Blanchette, Lydia Moscato, art directors
Published by: Ricardo Média
Ricardo engages readers as a magazine brimming with delicious, affordable, and simple recipes, aiming to gather friends and family around the table. With their national distribution, they strive to put cooking within reach from coast to coast.
Since 2011 Ricardo has been awarded three Gold Medals and nine Honourable Mentions at the National Magazine Awards. This year – aside from the prestigious Magazine of the Year award–Ricardo has been nominated in five categories. Photos of irresistible chocolate desserts earned photographer David de Stefano a nomination in the category of Lifestyle Photography, while colourful images of strawberry-themed desserts earned the artistic team at Ricardo a nomination for Best Magazine Cover. Other nominations include Best Service Editorial Package and Best Words and Pictures.
Ricardo is an authoritative magazine and media brand that feels alive and energetic with innovation, now reaching beyond Quebec to the rest of Canada. The food photography is top-notch, the branded merchandise is exemplary, and the service it provides to readers sets the standard for lifestyle magazines. —National Magazine Awards Jury
The Kit Compact
Giorgina Bigioni, publisher
Laura deCarufel, editor-in-chief Jessica Hotson, art director
Published by: Star Media Group
The Kit Compact was launched in September 2015 with the goal of offering Toronto millennials Canada’s most compelling beauty and fashion content. The magazine celebrates fascinating style personalities and features a diverse array of real women, using the power of digital, print, and social to tell rich, engaging, multi-platform stories.
The Kit Compact is a first-time NMA nominee, and they’re starting off strong with a nomination for the prestigious Magazine of the Year Award. Aside from that, The Kit Compact is also nominated for Portrait Photography, for “Deep Impact” (created collaboratively by photographer Luis Mora, art director Jessica Hotson, and editor Rani Sheen), in which six Toronto women “showcase the boss possibilities of black makeup.”
At the intersection of fashion, feminism, and the millennial generation, the new Kit Compact feels like the perfect breakout magazine for 2017. With a successful distribution strategy, robust digital and social platforms, and a commitment to supporting emerging artists and designers, it’s a magazine of profound energy and creativity. —National Magazine Awards Jury
The winner of the National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year will be announced on May 26 at the 40th anniversary NMA Gala in Toronto. Tickets are on sale now.
Can’t make it. Follow us on Twitter @MagAwards where we’ll be live-tweeting all of the awards announcements.
The National Magazine Award for best Art Direction of a Magazine Article honours the design team that creates the best visual package of a magazine story, spread or section.
This year’s National Magazine Awards jury considered an incredible array of magazines for Best Art Direction of a Magazine Article, an award generously sponsored by Studio Wyse, the creative studio that designed the look and feel of the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards.
The NMAF is excited to announce that this year’s 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala, on May 26, will be co-hosted by three previous winners of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement—Kim Pittaway, Michael de Pencier, and D.B. Scott—with special guest appearances by other winners including James Ireland, Sally Armstrong, Ken Rodmell, Lynn Cunningham, Stephen Trumper, Al Zikovitz, and Paul Jones.
The NMAF is also delighted to announce that Indigenous writer and 2017 nominee in Essays, Alicia Elliott, will deliver a keynote address to the gathering of more than 250 nominated writers, artists, editors, art directors, publishers, and more.
As we celebrate 40 years of achievement in Canadian magazines and honour the outstanding work of the past year, we also acknowledge the strength, excellence, and diversity of Canada’s storytellers, whose creativity and passion are the bedrock of Canadian magazine journalism, today and tomorrow.
Kim Pittaway is the executive director, MFA in Creative Nonfiction, at University of King’s College. A freelancer writer and former editor of Chatelaine, she is an eight-time National Magazine Award nominee and was the 2016 recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Michael de Pencier was the founding president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation in 1977, and was publisher of Toronto Life from 1971 until 2002. He founded Key Publishers, which published Canadian Geographic, Quill and Quire, Where Magazine, Fashion Magazine, Gardening Life, Canadian Business, and many other titles. In 1991 he was the recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.
D.B. Scott is the president of Impresa Communications Ltd, publisher of the Canadian Magazines blog. He is a magazine and media consultant, writer, teacher, market researcher, publisher, and editor. He served on the NMAF Board of Directors for eight years and was president in 1990. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala is Friday, May 26, 2017, at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. View all nominees.
ABOUT THE 40th ANNIVERSARY NMA GALA The NMAF will welcome Canada’s top writers, artists, editors, art directors, publishers and other creators to the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards will be announced at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on May 26. Tickets are on sale at magazine-awards.com.
A limited number of tickets for nominated freelancers are available at the discount rate of $35, thanks to the support of our Table Patrons, including Access Copyright, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, Bookmark, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Writers Group, CDS Global, ExpertWomen.ca, Ryerson University School of Journalism, and University of King’s College School of Journalism.
Gold winners in writing and visual awards categories receive a cash prize of $1000. Silver winners receive an awards certificate. All other finalists receive Honourable Mention. View all nominees.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT Since its debut in 1990, the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement has been the highest individual honour bestowed upon members of Canada’s magazine community. The award recognizes an individual’s innovation and creativity through contributions to the magazine industry. The NMAF accepts submissions for the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement throughout the year, with an annual deadline of March 1. The award is open to circulation experts, editors, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, publishers, creators, designers, production managers; in short, to everyone in the industry. It cannot be given posthumously.
Previous winners include:
2016 Kim Pittaway
2015 Michael Fox
2014 Kim Jernigan
2013 Stephen Trumper
2012 Heather Robertson
2011 D.B. Scott
2010 Terry Sellwood
2009 Cynthia Brouse
2008 Charles Oberdorf
2007 Neville Gilfoy
2006 John Macfarlane
2005 Paul Jones
2004 Stephen Osborne
2003 Sally Armstrong
2002 Al Zikovitz
2001 Ken Rodmell
2000 Peter C. Newman
1999 Lynn Cunningham
1998 Robert Fulford
1997 James Ireland
1996 Catherine Keachie
1995 Jean Paré
1994 Don Obe
1993 Barbara Moon
1992 Lloyd Hodgkinson
1991 Michael de Pencier
1990 Prue Hemelrijk
This year’s recipient will be Penny Caldwell, publisher and vice-president of Cottage Life Media.
ABOUT THE NMAF A charitable foundation, the NMAF’s mandate is to recognize and promote excellence in content creation of Canadian print and digital publications through an annual program of awards and national publicity efforts.
The Foundation produces two distinct and bilingual award programs: the National Magazine Awards and the Digital Publishing Awards. Throughout the year, the Foundation undertakes various group marketing initiatives and professional development events.
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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 Business, Toronto Life, Canadian Business, Maclean’s, Canadian 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
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.
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).
At the 15thanniversary 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.
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 National Magazine Award for Fiction has a storied history (oh goodness, please pardon that pun). Alice Munro won the inaugural NMA fiction gold medal in 1978 (and again in 1983, and again in 1999). Yann Martel won in 1993; Elizabeth Hay in 1995; Lynn Crosbie in 2002; Shyam Selvadurai (2007).
In 2010, Steven Heighton joined Munro as a three-time gold-medal winner (also winning in 1992 and 2008). Jay Teitel won the silver medal back in 1978, then won the gold medal 26 years later. William Gibson, Thomas King, Patrick deWitt, and Zsuzsi Gartner have also been winners.
This year’s National Magazine Awards jury considered a wide range of submissions from Canada’s top literary magazines for this year’s fiction prize, an award presented by Ontario Arts Council, which has supported the National Magazine Awards and Canadian literary artists for decades.