In Memory of Neville Gilfoy


The National Magazine Awards Foundation is deeply saddened by the loss of Neville Gilfoy, founder and publisher of Progress Magazine in Nova Scotia, who passed away yesterday from complications of lymphoma.
As an innovator and entrepreneur who built Progress Media Group into Atlantic Canada’s most trusted and important sources of business information, Neville was a strident proponent of economic development and entrepreneurial spirit in the region he dearly loved.
Neville often volunteered to serve on the jury for the National Magazine Awards, regularly offering his time and expertise in service to the industry and promoting excellence in Canadian magazines. Guests who met him at the annual National Magazine Awards gala were charmed and invigorated by his enthusiasm for the potential of magazine publishing and for business and innovation in Atlantic Canada.
For being an outstanding example to all who worked with him—and to the Canadian magazine industry—the NMAF in 2006 awarded Neville the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

“Neville ached to see Atlantic Canada prosper and believed an entrepreneurial revolution was required to make it happen.”
Greg Keilty, publisher of Sky News

Neville spent more than 40 years in magazine publishing. He was been behind the launch of several magazines, including Atlantic Insight (50,000 paid subscriptions within eight months), Eastern Woods and Waters, and Atlantic Progress (later Progress; he also created a French-language counterpart, Progrès), and successfully built one of the most capable, committed and determined publishing teams in Canada.
He served as a CPPA/CMPA board member from 1979 to 1987, as president of the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce, and as chair of the board of the Greater Halifax Partnership. For 15 years he taught at the Banff Publishing Workshop. He presented at hundreds of seminars and conferences, from CMPA and Magazines University to economic development groups and high-school classes. In 1999 he launched Face to Face, one of the most remarkable entrepreneurial conferences produced by any magazine in North America. In 2006 he was appointed honorary consul of France in Nova Scotia.
At the core of Gilfoy’s success was his talent and determination for making those around him share his “uncommon delight” for the magazine industry. “He eats, sleeps and dreams the business of magazine publishing,” Dirk van Loon, editor and publisher of DvL Publishing Inc., told the NMAF in 2006 when nominating Neville for the Outstanding Achievement Award. “He gladly shares what he knows with anyone else crazy enough to get into the racket.”

“Publishing a magazine that has had such a positive impact on the Atlantic region is an accomplishment that I am very proud of. Progress has a purpose and a mission and its audience is impacted by that. The company wouldn’t enjoy the level of success it does without the team of professionals with whom I work. The people who produce our magazines, our events and our online product are the absolute best and are wonderfully committed to the success of our company and the region. It’s an amazing thing to be part of.”
–Neville Gilfoy 

He will be missed. The NMAF staff and board of directors offer our condolences to Neville’s family and friends and all those who will remember him well.
More on Neville from D.B. Scott at the Canadian Magazines blog.

Farewell, Descant


Descant, the arts and literary quarterly published independently in Toronto since 1970, has announced that its forthcoming 167th issue, Vol. 45, No. 4, Winter 2014, will be its last.
Editor-in-chief Karen Mulhallen posted a farewell note on the magazine’s website, noting that after painstaking efforts to find alternative funding and deliberations among staff and funders, “we have jointly decided that Descant magazine in its present form is no longer sustainable.”

Grants have been in decline for more than five years, although other revenues such as sales and subscriptions have held steady or increased. We have cut costs everywhere we could, but many expenses over which we have no control have continued to spiral up.

Descant has won 6 National Magazine Awards since 1980 for its fiction, poetry and essays, most recently Adam Lindsay Honsinger‘s short story “Silence” in 2009.
What began as a mimeograph forty-four years ago evolved into a robust and stimulating literary magazine that has published works by Anne Michaels, Timothy Findley, Evelyn Lau, Margaret Atwood, Isabel Allende, Tom McGuane, Jane Urquhart, Dennis Lee, Michael Ondaatje and R. Murray Schafer, among many others. Lately its production office has been the historic George Brown building at the corner of Baldwin and Beverly Streets.
Browse through the back issues of Descant for a more complete perspective on what the magazine has published.
From the National Magazine Awards online archive:
Up the Amazon–1959; Mexico–1960” by P.K. Page (Descant), Honourable Mention, Poetry, 2005
Fudge” by Alex Pugsley (Descant), Honourable Mention, Fiction, 2010

In Memory of Don Obe

Don Obe. Photo by John Reeves

Update: A memorial for Don Obe will be held on Friday, November 21, in the East Common Room of Hart House at the University of Toronto, from 5:30-8:00pm. All are welcome.
With great sadness and yet also inspired by the outpouring of remarkable tributes to a titan of Canadian magazine journalism, we remember the life and career of Don Obe, who passed away Friday. A former recipient of the NMAF’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement (1993) for his remarkable contribution to the Canadian magazine industry as an editor, writer, teacher and mentor, Don was beloved by countless colleagues and students at Ryerson University where he oversaw the j-school program and the Ryerson Review of Journalism.
Before joining the faculty of Ryerson, where he taught many of Canada’s brightest journalists, Don was associate editor at Maclean’s and editor-in-chief of The Canadian and Toronto Life. In 1983 he became the chair of Ryerson’s journalism program where he founded the RRJ in 1984 and established it as Canada’s premier student magazine. He also won a National Magazine Award for Religious Journalism in 1982 for his story “The Dissident Rabbi” (Toronto Life). From 1989-1999 he was a resident editor of Creative Nonfiction at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He retired from Ryerson in 2001 but remained a mentor and inspiration to many.

Don was one of the great characters of modern Canadian journalism. He could be funny, biting, sweet, profane, hard-assed and kind, sometimes simultaneously. He was, for decades, the kind of journalist about which movies are made: hard-drinking and irascible with a soft heart. He was an important mentor of mine, as a writer, editor and, especially, as a teacher. But do you know what really matters? I owe everything I know about the soul of journalism to him.
David Hayes, 2-time NMA winner and current NMAF board member
I met Don Obe in 1974. Today, I was with him shortly before his death at 78. In the intervening 40 years he had a substantial impact on journalism–particularly magazine journalism–in this country. I join many of his former students at Ryerson, his writers at the Banff nonfiction program and his colleagues in the business in remembering Don as the trailblazer he was.
Lynn Cunningham, 2-time NMA winner and former recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement
I still hear him in my head: “Magazine writing is an intellectual exercise: it involves a lot more thinking than anything else”; “If you can’t write better than other people talk, you’re in the wrong business”; “Style at the expense of clarity is a waste of words.” But quoting his advice does nothing to capture his passion for journalism and writing, especially narrative non-fiction, or his love of sharing that passion.
Tim Falconer, NMA winner and instructor on the RRJ

NMAF-25-coverDon was also the editor of the National Magazine Awards 25th anniversary anthology in 2002.
Our thoughts are with Don’s family and friends, and the National Magazine Awards Foundation is honoured to be among those who have been touched by and celebrate Don’s life and achievements, and the impact he made on Canadian magazine journalists.
The Ryerson School of Journalism has announced that a memorial for Don Obe will be held on Friday, November 21 in the East Common Room of Hart House at the University of Toronto, from 5:30-8:00pm. All are welcome.

In Memory of Mark Anderson


The sad news reached us recently of the passing of Mark Anderson. Mark was an accomplished and enthusiastic magazine journalist who won three National Magazine Awards for his work in Explore and Outdoor Canada.
We read his work in a number of other Canadian magazines, including Financial Post Magazine, Listed, Report on Business, MoneySense, Canadian Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Cottage Life, Ontario Nature and Canadian Business.
His editor at Outdoor Canada, Patrick Walsh, former president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation, talked to us about Mark’s enduring legacy.

For us at Outdoor Canada, Mark was the complete package—an incredibly gifted storyteller with the added bonus of being a highly accomplished angler. Not only did he win major awards for his feature writing, he also earned laurels for his fly-fishing expertise, competing in both national and international competitions. Mark leaves a major vacancy in our stable of writers, and all I can say is we are so thankful we had him on our team when we did.

Mark was indeed one of Canada’s best fly fisherman. The Canadian Fly Fishing Championships awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year.

In one of his best-known stories for Outdoor Canada, “Requiem for a River,” Mark travelled to Quebec’s Rupert River, famous among anglers for its exquisite natural beauty and genetically unique brook trout, the summer before it was dammed as part of a massive hydroelectric project in the province. The story showcased Mark’s rare gifts as an inquisitive and thoughtful writer and conservationist.

I start working my way down the shoreline, all heavy brush and treacherous deadfalls, and when I break out into the open a half-kilometre later, I’m in for a shocking sight: clear-cut as far as the eye can see. It’s the slash Freddy Jolly warned us about, Hydro-Québec’s relentless drive to denude the banks of the Rupert in preparation for the coming flood. After three days surrounded by raw wilderness, it’s a dismal, depressing scene.

The story won a National Magazine Award for Travel writing in 2008 and was also nominated in Sports & Recreation. You can read the entire story here from the National Magazine Awards archive.
A Celebration of Mark’s Life was held at Algonquin College’s Observatory lounge on Sunday, October 26. Donations are being accepted in Mark’s name to Algonquin College Foundation’s Mark Anderson Memorial Bursary, via CanadaHelps.org. Mark’s obituary appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on October 22.
Photographs by Theodore Smith for Outdoor Canada. Special thanks to James Little and Patrick Walsh.

WORN Fashion Journal to publish its final issue


It’s a bittersweet moment for all “Wornettes” as one of Canada’s brightest and coolest indie fashion magazines has announced its forthcoming Issue #20 will be its last.
Largely reader supported (with limited advertising) since it launched in 2005, WORN Fashion Journal created a niche as an alternative to the large, ad-driven glossy books by focusing its content on the culture of clothing rather than runway fashion trends.
Its community of volunteer staff, readers, writers and fans, who call themselves Wornettes, sustained the magazine for a decade with creative and personal stories, essays, ideas and spreads, as well as memorable launch parties for each issue.
A note on its Facebook page announced that pre-orders are being accepted for Issue #20, which will be published on November 22. A final WORN party, dubbed the Black Cat Ball, is in the works. Also:

Subscribers to WORN Fashion Journal will have the option to transfer their subscription to one of the following Canadian independent publications: Broken Pencil, Maisonneuve, Shameless, or The Walrus. All subscribers will receive an email with more information to the accounts associated with their subscriptions, but are encouraged to get in touch by emailing orders@wornjournal.com if they have any questions.

Earlier this year, WORN published a compendium of its first 14 issues called The WORN Archive (Drawn & Quarterly), which is also available on its website along with individual back issues.
WORN Fashion Journal was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2008, in the category Best Magazine Cover, for Issue #7. Best wishes to all Wornettes out there, and thanks for all the fashion.