From the Editor

Our little millennium project

January 1 2000
From the Editor

Our little millennium project

January 1 2000
In the last five months of the 20th century, I had the good fortune to spend time in several provinces, from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia, talking with Canadians from all walks of life. In contrast to so much of the agenda in the national media, what you see out on the land is a country brimming with energy, ideas—and, yes, patriotism. At times, attachment to the idea of Canada seems stronger as you move away from the centre. In Charlottetown, Vancouver and Calgary, people were unabashed about their passion for the country, even if they have distinct solutions for making it work better. The reassuring factor is that people are determined to enrich Canadian life—despite the national chorus of bickering and the hardships so many of them face in their own lives.


That same spirit animates the actions of 100 Canadians under 30 who are featured in this special century’s-end issue. Their stories demonstrate that Canada has a future that shines with promise. The other major section of the special edition explores our rich history, in the words of the people who have lived it over the past 100 years. That is a neglected part of the Canadian story in a country that does not specialize in monuments or in celebrating its proud past.

Maclean's editors decided early last year to combine the 100 “Faces of the future” and “Voices of the past” as a special millennium package (page 30). It grew to involve staff members in all departments, from the writers and editors and designers who crafted the words and images, to the salespeople who sold the advertising that supports this, the biggest issue since the magazines first in the fall of 1905. “It is not only a millennium project,” observes Maclean's Publisher Paul Jones. “Its our way of expressing gratitude to a loyal audience of 500,000 subscribers and newsstand buyers, along with the millions who see Maclean's in other ways. It’s also an opportunity to thank our valued commercial supporters.”

The young Canadians profiled in “Faces” are an inspiration. They include the likes of 24-year-old Aliyah Rahemtullah. Born in Tanzania, raised in British Columbia, she is a prize-winning Simon Fraser University graduate who now is studying at Harvard medical school. She has yet to decide on her specialty, but says wherever she goes, “I’ll do it as a Canadian.” Jack and Mark Nowinski, 19-year-old twins from Waterloo, Ont., have swept several science awards on their way to designing a small device for monitoring heart irregularities that people can hook up to a computer—an invention inspired by their own mother’s medical emergency. “We just love the feeling that we are helping people,” says Mark.

The “Voices” section brims with telling anecdotes and recollections. Artist Alex Colville recalls the horror of Belsen, which he painted at the request of Canada’s high commissioner Vincent Massey after the Germans were run out of the concentration camp. Eric Kierans reminisces about former fellow Quebec Liberal cabinet colleague René Lévesque, the fight that forced Lévesque to leave the party, and Lévesque’s dim view of Jacques Parizeau.

There also are touching accounts of life in the early days by citizens who did not seek fame, but sought to do good. Walter Loudon, 99, of Calgary recalls the brutality of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, where 24,000 Canadians were lost, and what it was like to scale Vimy. “So many had tried to get the ridge,” he said with pride, “but only we did.” At the age of 100, Gladys Lomax talked to Maclean's about a lifetime that embraced the first flight and the exploration of space—and she described the feeling in the streets of Toronto the day the First World War ended. Even well into her 80s, Lomax was a steadfast volunteer at Women’s College Hospital. Sadly, Loudon and Lomax did not get to read their contributions to this issue. They left us before publication, their life’s work done, their contributions made, their passing a reminder of how vital oral history can be in understanding our roots.

Year-end report

The publication of the largest-ever issue was an appropriate way for Maclean's to end a banner year. A series of investigative reports about the Canadian military won honourable mention at the prestigious Michener Awards. There were gold medals at the National Magazine Awards and the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s “Excellence in Journalism” citation. As well, Maclean's is blessed by the exceptional loyalty of its subscribers, who have been renewing at record levels. On the business side, advertising revenues were the second highest in a decade and the magazine is profitable, despite the challenge from a sea of U.S. titles on our newsstands.

Last year also was an active one on other fronts. The magazine had a major redesign, as did the Web site {www.macleans.ca). We published three guidebooks (universities, colleges and personal finance). In book publishing, there were two new volumes: one a compendium of articles from Maclean's called Canada in the Fifties, and Canada’s Century, which combines 300 photos and 150 articles from the pages of Maclean's over the past 94 years. This month, Maclean’s TV with Pamela Wallin continues its second season on CTV. All in all, it is a sound base on which to build for the new century.

Happy 2000 to one and all.