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MARY VIPOND Canadian Nationah'sm and the Plight ofCanadian Magazines o m the1920s AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE pouredinto Canadain the 192os , not for the first time, but at an unprecedented rate. Vast numbersof Canadiansapparentlydelightedin the diverting,entertaining,cheapyet sophisticated products of theburgeoning Americanmass cultureindustry.A minorityof English-speaking Canadian nationalists, self-styled moulders ofpublicopinion and self-interested Canadianproducersof similarproducts,however, campaignedaggressively againstthis'invasion'and struggledto createa competitiveCanadianculture.One of their major offensives wasagainst Americanmagazines. The American periodicalindustryexpandedtremendouslyduring the 19•os,sparkedby improvements in printing technologyand in business practices aswell asby the growingmarket of a societywith more leisure, education,and money. • As us salesgrew, so did Canadian.Over three hundred American publications(excluding newspapers)circulated in Canada in the mid-19aos; perhaps fifty million copiesof American magazines wereboughtannuallyin Canadaby •9•6, and the numberwas steadilyincreasing. 2The bestsellers werethe Ladies' Home Journal(witha circulation of 15•,o11in Canadaasof 3øJune 19•6), Saturday Evening Post (128,574),Pictorial Review (128,3•o), andMcCall's Magazine (103,•o9).a • T. Peterson, Magazines intheTwentieth Century (Urbana •964), viii,ix. The practice of financing magazine publication primarilyfromadvertising revenues, whichledtocuts in subscription ratesinordertogarnermaximumcirculation numbers, waswellentrenchedin theUnitedStates bythe•92os,butonlybeginning inCanada. 2 J.A.Stevenson, 'TheCampaign ofCanadian Publishers for Protection,' in H.F. Angus,ed., Canada andherGreat Neighbor (Toronto •938), •54.SeealsoC.W.Stokes, 'Our Americanized News-stands,' Saturday Night,xLI, 27Feb.•926, 2. 3 eac,Canada,AdvisoryBoardonTariff andTaxation,Referenceno9, ExhibitH, 'a.B.c. figuresfroma.B.c.BlueBooktoJune3o, •926.'Seealsoibid.,Tablea, whichshows an unverified increase ofover7øpercentintheCanadian circulation ofthetwenty-five leading American magazines between •923alad•926. Vol.L¾IIINo • March •977 44 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW American publications outsold bothBritishandCanadian in Canada bya widemargin.By •9•9, for every$• spent onBritishmagazines in Canada, $•oowasspent onAmerican. 4Moreworrying toCanadians, however, was theestimate thatforeveryCanadian magazine printed,eightwereimported from theUnitedStates? The leadingnation-wide Canadianmagazines of generalinterestwereMacLean's Magazine (withacirculation of 8•,o•3 asof 3• December•9•5), Canadian HomeJournal(68,o54), Saturday Night (3o,858),andtheCanadian Magazine (• •,6o4).6Thusthecombined circulationofthefourleading Canadian magazines wasconsiderably less thanhalf thatof the four majorAmericanmagazines insideCanada.The crisis was apparent.HowcouldtheCanadian magazine industrymeetAmerican competition ?How, indeed,couldit survive? This questionconcernedmany groups,rangingfrom the IODEto the Canadian Authors' Association, from Boards of Trade to labour unions. Yearafteryeartheyloudlybemoaned the'deluge'of Americanmagazines 'flooding' thecountry,andpassed earnest resolutions callingfor therescue oftheCanadian periodical industry. (Canadians always seemed touseaquaticmetaphors -deluge, flood,tidalwave-to describe theinfluxofAmerican popularculture.Perhapsmostexpressive of all wasW.L. Grant, who remarkedthat Americaninfluences seemedto 'seepin undergroundlike drainage?)EventheHouseofCommons discussed themagazine question a coupleof timesduringthedecade - oneof thefewculturalmatterstowhich theHonourable Members turnedtheirattention inthese years. Thosemostinterested intheproblem,ofcourse, wereCanadian magazine publishers themselves, andtheyweretheoneswhotookactionduringthe •9•os. Indeed,thatothergroupsbecame soconcerned wasat leastin part duetotheeffectiveness of thepublishers' lobby. Thedecade began withadefeatforthepublishers onanissue ofperennial concern tothem- postal rates. Despite theirpersistent lobbying since before thewar,in June •9•o the CanadianHouseandSenatepassed legislation raisingthe postalrate on secondclassmatter (mainlynewspapers and magazines) from 1/4•t to s/4•t per pound,with the provisionthat it would increase to •1/2•per poundon • January•9•. 8 The legislation in effect ended(ornearlyended)the'subsidy' Canadian publishers hadbeenreceiv4 Canada,DominionBureauof Statistics, Canada YearBook, •932, (Ottawa•932),462 5 Canada, Advisory BoardonTariff andTaxation,Reference no9,Transcript of Public Hearing,28Oct. •926, 5-6 6 A.W. ThomasandH.C. Corner,eds.,TheCanadian Almanac, •9•6 (Toronto•926),4o4, 4o5. Notethatthesefigures areunofficial. OtherCanadian publications hadcirculations as large(for example, TheNewOutlook, TheCanadian Motorist, andsome of thefarmmagazines ), butthese werenotmagazines of generalinterest. 7 •'^c,W.L. Grant Papers, GranttoSirMauriceHankey,•7 Nov. •92•, 2 8 Canada, House ofCommons, Debates, •7June•92o,376•. Theratewas slightly lowered (to •½perpound)in •927.Debates, 1April 1927,1775-6, 2o31-9 CANADIAN NATIONALISM AND CANADIAN MAGAZINES 45 ingfromthegovernment for years, for theywerenowrequiredtopayclose totheactualcost of thecarriage of theirpapers. Notsurprisingly, it aroused considerable resentment amongthe publishers, and significantly theyimmediately beganto arguethat themostimportanteffectof the legislation wouldbetoincrease theadvantage heldbyAmericanpublishers inCanada, for a large proportionof Americanmagazines were truckedin to newsstands , andthusavoided allpostal charges. In theatmosphere of theimpendingpostalratelegislation, theMagazine Sectionof the CanadianNationalNewspapers and Periodicals Association [c•PA] helditsfirstmeetingon4 May •92o.The c•PA hadbeenformedin •9•9 bythe subdivision of the CanadianPress Association. The Magazine Sectionconsisted of the publishersof betweenten and fifteen generalinterestcommercial magazines; it wasdominatedin the •92osby the publishersof MacLean's Magazine (ColonelJ.B. Macleanand his employees H.V. Tyrrell andG...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 43-63
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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