This year marks Maclean’s 108th birthday — and the country’s only national newsmagazine has had a front-row seat to Canada’s growth as a country since that first edition came out in October, 1905.
But you’d have a hard time comparing Maclean’s then and now, and not just because of shifts in coverage and approach. At present, past issues of Maclean’s have only been digitized as far back as 1986. That means that, for library visitors or Maclean’s staffers, viewing issues from 1985 and prior is only possible through the use of a card catalogue, and only in locations where microfilm copies exist — you won’t find the bulk of our history online.
Fortunately, that’s soon to change. After more than a century of publication, we thought it was high time we made our trove of past issues digitally available not only to us, but to the public, as well.
The Maclean’s Historical Digitization Project, made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, has us partnered with ProQuest, a company that will be making a PAO (periodical archives online) database of our past coverage. If all goes well, the back-end work on the Maclean’s digital archive will be complete by the end of 2013, with work on the publicly accessible archive to get underway in 2014.
It’s a rich collection: there are the historic covers, including some by Group of Seven members like A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald, and a celebrated cast of contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Robert Service, Farley Mowat, David Suzuki, W.O. Mitchell, Ray Bradbury, Mordecai Richler, Bertrand Russell, and Lucy Maud Montgomery. That’s not to mention a veritable who’s who of Canadian journalists who’ve edited and filled our pages: Ralph Allen, Pierre Berton, Robert Fulford, McKenzie Porter, Peter C. Newman, Christina McCall, Barbara Moon, Peter Gzowski, Trent Frayne, June Callwood and Fred Bodsworth, to name a few.
We’re missing some issues, particularly from our first few decades, and we hope to solicit your help in locating some of these missing copies down the road. Please stay tuned for specifics.
In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of our archives as they exist, now: