Canadian National Magazine Awards

The National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to recognize excellence in the content and creation of Canadian magazines through an annual program of awards. The National Magazine Awards gala takes place each June in Toronto. Each year the NMAF receives more than 2000 submissions and relies on over 200 volunteer judges to evaluate the entries and award gold and silver winners in 45 categories.

A 15-member board of directors drawn from the Canadian magazine industry governs the NMAF. The current president of the board of directors of the NMAF is Douglas Thomson, editor-in-chief of the magazine Canadian Home Workshop.


In 1976 Andrew MacFarlane, Dean of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario (UWO), was trying to revive the university's recently defunct President's Medal for Canadian Magazine Journalism. His original idea was to create a new award divided into English and French counterparts. But MacFarlane eventually developed a proposal for a series of magazine awards, whose salient features were that the program would be bilingual – and therefore truly national – and would recognize individual excellence in the many aspects of the magazine industry – writers, illustrators, editors, photographers and art directors.

MacFarlane together with John S. Crosbie, president of the Magazine Association of Canada, secured the participation of the Canadian Periodical Publishers Association (CPPA), representing 193 Canadian magazines, and CPPA's former president Michael de Pencier. MacFarlane reached out to his counterpart at Université Laval, Roger de la Garde, Alan Edmunds, head of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), and veteran newsman Pierre Berton, among others. As the collective effort began to take shape across the country, by the spring of 1977 the National Magazine Awards had developed a clear mandate.

On 14 November 1977, National Magazine Awards Foundation received its charter of non-profit foundation status from the Province of Ontario.

The first awards

There were more than 1300 entries to the first National Magazine Awards for the year 1977. 62 judges evaluated the entries and awarded winners in 14 categories. The first National Magazine Awards gala was held on Thursday, 11 May 1978 at the Hotel Toronto.

Pierre Berton emceed the event, where the 660 guests dined and danced to Jack Collins and his five-piece band. Before presenting the awards, Berton proclaimed to the audience, "In a bold departure from tradition, there are to be no thank you speeches. We can do that because we are giving money, not some cheap statuette."[1] If any winner started to talk on stage, Berton reportedly waved a large hook in the speaker’s direction.

Awards were handed down in 14 categories (with separate French- and English-language winners for the President’s Award for General Magazine Articles). 11 different magazines won awards. The NMAF also honoured outstanding achievement by a magazine: L'actualité (French) and Harrowsmith (English) took the awards.

Major winners of the National Magazine Awards

The now-defunct Saturday Night is the all-time leader in awards, with 129 gold awards. Toronto Life magazine leads all current publications with 108 gold awards. Writer Robert Fulford is the all-time individual leader with 14 gold awards.


The NMAF has a total of 45 awards categories: 23 written, 5 integrated, 12 visual, and 5 special awards.

Written Categories: Arts & Entertainment; Best Short Feature Business; Columns; Editorial Package; Essays; Fiction; Health & Medicine; How-To; Humour; Investigative Reporting; One of a Kind; Personal Journalism; Poetry; Politics & Public Interest; Profiles; Science, Technology & Environment; Service – Lifestyle; Service – Health & Family; Service – Personal Finance & Business; Society; Sports & Recreation; Travel.

Integrated Categories: Best Multimedia Feature; Best Single Issue; Magazine Covers; Single Service Article Package; Words & Pictures.

Visual Categories: Art Direction – Entire Issue; Art Direction – Single Article; Beauty; Best Digital Design; Creative Photography; Fashion; Homes & Gardens; Illustration; Photojournalism & Photo Essay; Portrait Photography; Spot Illustration; Still-Life Photography.

Special Categories: Best New Magazine Writer; Best New Visual Creator; Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement; Magazine of the Year (Digital); Magazine of the Year (Print).

Magazine of the Year (Print)

Each year the National Magazine Awards concludes with the naming of Canada’s Magazine of the Year. In 2009, with the addition of online publications to the awards programme, this category was renamed to reflect these as winners specifically in the print category. Previous winners are:

Magazine of the Year (Website)

In 2009, the National Magazine Awards began acknowledging the work of Canada's digital media community with a new set of online awards, including a new category for website of the year.[2] This category is intended to be the online equivalent of Magazine of the Year (Print). Previous winners are:

Outstanding Achievement

Each year since 1990 the NMAF has awarded the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, which recognizes an individual's innovation and creativity through contributions to the Canadian magazine industry. The winners since 1990 are:

Other information

The submissions process for the National Magazine Awards is generally open from December until the second week of January. Nominations are announced in May, and the awards gala is held on the first or second Friday in June.


External links

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