Cover of Maclean's, September 22, 2008 issue.
|Circulation||350,000 per week|
|First issue||1905 as
The Business Magazine
1911 as Maclean's
Founded in 1905 by Toronto journalist/entrepreneur Lt.-Col. John Bayne Maclean. The 43-year-old trade magazine publisher purchased an advertising agency's in-house business journal, along with its 5,000-strong subscription base. The Business Magazine, was launched in October of that year as a pocket-sized digest of articles gathered from Canadian, British, and American periodicals. It sold 6,000 copies. Inside its bright blue cover, the fledgling monthly anointed itself, "the Cream of the World's magazines reproduced for Busy People." Its aim, Maclean wrote a year later, was not "merely to entertain but also to inspire its readers." It was renamed The Busy Man's Magazine in December 1905, and began soliciting original manuscripts on varied topics such as immigration, national defence, home life, women's suffrage, as well as fiction. Maclean renamed the magazine after himself in 1911, dropping the previous title as too evocative of a business magazine for what had become a general interest publication.
Maclean hired Thomas B. Costain as editor in 1917. Costain invigorated the magazine's coverage of the First World War, running first-person accounts of life on the Western Front and critiques of Canada's war effort that came into conflict with wartime censorship regulations. Costain was ordered to remove an article by Maclean himself as it was too critical of war policy.
Costain encouraged literary pieces and artistic expressions and ran fiction by Robert W. Service, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and O. Henry; commentary by Stephen Leacock and illustrations by C. W. Jefferys, F.S. Coburn, and several Group of Seven members, including A. J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, and J. E. H. MacDonald.
In 1919, the magazine moved from monthly to fortnightly publication and ran a notable exposé of the drug trade by Emily Murphy. Costain left the magazine to become a novelist and was replaced by J. Vernon Mackenzie who remained at the helm until 1926. During his tenure, Maclean's achieved national stature.
After Mackenzie, H. Napier Moore became the new editor. An Englishman, he saw the magazine as an expression of Canada's role in the British Empire. Moore ultimately became a figurehead with the day-to-day running of the magazine falling to managing editor W. Arthur Irwin, a Canadian nationalist, who saw the magazine as an exercise in nation-building, giving it a mandate to promote national pride. Under Irwin's influence, the magazine's covers promoted Canadian scenery and imagery. The magazine also sponsored an annual short story contest on Canadian themes and acquired a sports department. Irwin was also responsible for orienting the magazine towards both small and big "L" Liberalism.
During the Second World War, Maclean's ran an overseas edition for Canadian troops serving abroad. By the time of its final run in 1946, the "bantam" edition had a circulation of 800,000. Maclean's war coverage featured war photography by Yousuf Karsh, later an internationally acclaimed portrait photographer, and articles by war correspondents John Clare and Leonard Shapiro.
Irwin officially replaced Moore as editor in 1945, and reoriented the magazine by building it around news features written by a new stable of writers that included Pierre Berton, W.O. Mitchell, Scott Young, Ralph Allen, and Blair Fraser.
Allen became editor upon Irwin's acceptance of a diplomatic posting in 1950. This era of the magazine was noted for its articles on the Canadian landscape and profiles of town and city life. The feature article, "Canada's North," by Pierre Berton, promoted a new national interest in the Arctic. Prominent writers during this period included Robert Fulford, Peter Gzowski, Peter C. Newman, Trent Frayne, June Callwood, McKenzie Porter, and Christina McCall. Exposés in the 1950s challenged the criminal justice system, explored LSD, and artificial insemination.
Maclean's published a memorable editorial the day after the 1957 federal election announcing the predictable re-election of the St. Laurent Liberal Party. Written before the election results were known, Allen failed to anticipate the upset election of John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservative Party.
The magazine struggled to compete with television in the 1960s by increasing its international coverage and attempting to keep up with the sexual revolution through a succession of editors including Gzowski and Charles Templeton. Templeton quit after a short time at the helm due to his frustration with interference by the publishing company, Maclean-Hunter.
In 1961, Maclean's began publishing a French-language edition, Le Magazine Maclean, which survived until 1976, when the edition was absorbed by L'actualité.
Peter C. Newman became editor in 1971, and attempted to revive the magazine by publishing feature articles by writers such as Barbara Frum and Michael Enright, and poetry by Irving Layton. Walter Stewart, correspondent and eventually managing editor during this period, often clashed with Newman. In 1975 Newman brought in columnist Allan Fotheringham. Fotheringham made famous The Back Page, where he wrote for 27 years. Readers would go to read the Back Page first and then proceed to read the magazine from back to front.
Under Newman, the magazine switched from being a monthly general interest publication to a bi-weekly news magazine in 1975, and to a weekly newsmagazine three years later. The magazine opened news bureaus across the country and in international bureaus in London, England, and Washington D.C..
Maclean's remains a significant source of Canadian news and information. Maclean's is also known for its annual ranking of Canadian universities for their undergraduate programs, comparing universities in three peer groupings. Maclean's has also been noted for its annual announcement of Canada's Top 100 Employers.
In 2001, Anthony Wilson-Smith became the fifteenth editor in the magazine's history. He left the post at the end of February 2005 and was replaced by Kenneth Whyte, who also serves as the magazine's publisher. The magazine has been owned by the Rogers Communications conglomerate since Rogers acquired Maclean-Hunter, the former publisher, in 1994.
The post-2001 period has been marked by a sharp swing to the right in the magazine's editorial views, and an aggressive tabloid-like tone in its articles, giving them a resemblance to the type of writing seen in the National Post, with whom Maclean's now shares some writers, and of the newspapers formerly owned by Conrad Black.
The Maclean's Guide to Canadian Universities is published annually in March. It is also known as Maclean's University Guide. It includes information from the Maclean's University Rankings, an issue of the magazine proper that is published annually in November, primarily for students in their last year of high school and entering their first year in Canadian universities. Both the Guide and the Rankings Issue feature articles discussing Canadian universities and ranking them by order of quality. The rankings focus on taking a measure of the "undergraduate experience," comparing universities in three peer groupings: Primarily Undergraduate, Comprehensive, and Medical Doctoral.
Schools in the Primarily Undergraduate category are largely focused on undergraduate education, with relatively few graduate programs. Comprehensives have a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs, including professional degrees. Medical Doctoral institutions have a broad range of PhD programs and research, as well as medical schools.
In early 2006, Maclean's announced that in June 2006, it would be introducing a new annual issue called the University Student Issue. The issue would feature the results of a survey of recent university graduates from each Canadian university. However, many universities, such as the University of Calgary, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto, refused to take part in this exercise. The three institutions stated that they questioned the "magazine's ability to conduct a survey that would be rigorous and provide accurate and useful information to students and their parents." In response, Maclean's sought the results of two university-commissioned student surveys: the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium (CUSC) and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Results from these surveys, along with Maclean's own graduate survey, were published in the June 26, 2006, edition of Maclean's.
For the November 2006 University Rankings issue, 22 Canadian universities refused to provide information directly to Maclean's. To rank those universities, the magazine relied on data it collected itself, as well as data drawn from third party sources such as Statistics Canada. Among the universities that refused to provide information directly to Maclean's in the fall of 2006 were: University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, McMaster University, University of New Brunswick, University of Manitoba, Université du Québec network, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Ryerson University, Université de Montréal, University of Ottawa, York University, Concordia University, University of Western Ontario, Lakehead University, Queen's University, Carleton University, and University of Windsor. The withholding of data served as a means of voicing the universities' displeasure with the methodology used to determine the Maclean's ranking. Indira Samarasekera, president of The University of Alberta, further discussed this in the article, "Rising Up Against Rankings," published in the April 2, 2007, issue of Inside Higher Ed.
The University Rankings Issue contains a compilation of different charts and lists judging the different aspects of universities in different categories. The three main areas listed in chart form in the University Rankings Issue as at November 3, 2006, are: the overall rankings themselves, the university student surveys, and the magazine's "national reputational rankings" of the schools.
The National Reputational Rankings, like the main university rankings, are broken into three subcategories: medical doctoral, comprehensive, and primarily undergraduate and are based on opinions of the quality of the universities. The quality opinions gathered were contributed by secondary school principals, guidance counselors, organization and company heads, and recruiters. The results of the reputational rankings are included in the main university rankings, and account for 16% of a university's total ranking score.
Maclean's published its second University Student Issue on March 22, 2007. That issue once again contained content from the NSSE and CUSC student surveys.
Maclean's is also well-known for announcing the annual list of Canada's Top 100 Employers, which is featured in a special issue each October. First published by Maclean's in 2002, this issue profiles the winners of an annual competition to determine Canada's best places to work. The competition is open to employers of all sizes, both private- and public-sector. Winners are selected using a variety of criteria, which range from forward-thinking human resource policies to progressive community involvement projects that make use of employees' talents. Detailed reasons for each employer's selection are published in an annual paperback by an outside firm, which manages the Canada's Top 100 Employers competition and provides the research to Maclean's. A distinguished panel of academic advisors, drawn from universities across Canada, oversees the selection criteria for the annual competition.
In December 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress launched complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, British Columbia Human Rights Commission, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Maclean's accusing it of publishing 18 articles between January 2005 and July 2007 that they considered Islamophobic in nature including a column by Mark Steyn titled "The future belongs to Islam." According to the CIC complaint (as discussed in a National Post article by Ezra Levant): Maclean's is "flagrantly Islamophobic" and "subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt."  In contrast, Levant says of the complainants that they are "illiberal censors who have found a quirk in our legal system, and are using it to undermine our Western traditions of freedom."
On October 10, 2008, the B.C.Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the allegations of "hate speech" made by the Canadian Islamic Congress. Maclean's consistently took the position that Mr. Steyn's article, an excerpt from his best-selling book, America Alone, is a worthy contribution to an important debate on geopolitical and demographic issues.