Canadian Magazine Industry News
8 August 2011,     TORONTO
Harrowsmith Country Life cuts staff; future uncertain
Veteran staff of the popular country-lifestyle magazine Harrowsmith Country Life have been let go, leaving the future of the publication hanging in the balance.

Madeleine Hague, account manager for Harrowsmith (from Malcolm Publishing), said she was one of six long-time staffers cut along with editor Tom Cruickshank. She said they were served notice July 25 that they were no longer employed as of that day.

Harrowsmith, June 1993
Harrowsmith, June 1993


Hague said she has been fielding many calls from concerned subscribers, noting only one of six editions has been published this year. Hague said thousands of subscribers have been "left high and dry" and are trying to find out what's happening with their beloved publication.

"What they told us at head office is they were going to publish a second issue of the year and four more issues," explained Hague. That may satisfy annual subscribers but some readers subscribe for two years, she said.

 


The magazine's publisher, Michel Paradis, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Hague said the downfall of the magazine was due to the fact it was "horribly mismanaged for the last 18 months". Money was coming in: Harrowsmith Country Life ranked 47th on Masthead's annual Top 50 list (by revenue) last year, with a total reported revenue for 2009 of about $3.2 million. Not including subscriptions, as that data isn't available, the magazine pulled in more than $1.6 million in ad revenue in 2010, based on LNA figures.

The warning signs were there before the job terminations, said Hague. "We knew something was coming, the magazine started to stumble last year," she said, noting some editions were released late.

"It's a real shame, this magazine should've carried on for another 10 years," said Hague. "It's the end of an era, it's a really iconic magazine."

Harrowsmith also publishes an annual almanac that Hague called "a runaway success", but the future is murky for that publication as well.

"We're all looking for jobs," said Hague. In the meantime, Hague is national account manager for Moongate Publishing, a custom publishing house started by former Harrowsmith staffer Yolanda Thornton some years ago.

Harrowsmith was launched in the mid 1970s by James Lawrence in rural Ontario, with the magazine named after a nearby town. The publication gained popularity and won awards before being sold to Telemedia Publishing, becoming Harrowsmith Country Life before ending up with Malcolm Publishing based in Quebec.
— Jeff Hayward
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