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Throwback Thursday: Reflections on the first editor’s note

Can Geo editor-in-chief Aaron Kylie reflects on the very first Foreword by the Editors of Canadian Geographic

  • Apr 22, 2015
  • 380 words
  • 2 minutes
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Speaking to millions of people numerous times a year is a task I don’t take lightly. And while I don’t necessarily confront that fact on a daily basis, I do regularly consider the enormity of the responsibility related to it, given that the content I oversee as the editor of Canadian Geographic is estimated to be seen by more than 3 million people each issue (not to mention millions more through various other mediums).

I can only imagine the pleasure Lawrence J. Burpee, the first editor of Canadian Geographic Journal (Canadian Geographical’s original name), would take in knowing that the publication he helped launch in May 1930 was reaching that many people. Of course, the “Foreword by the Editors” he presumably penned (and most certainly oversaw) in that issue certainly aspired to such greatness. It also set out very clear objectives for the publication that help guide my decision making today when it comes to crafting the content so many will see.

“Its purpose is to use the Journal as a means of information in the field of Geography, interpreting that subject in its widest sense,” notes that Foreword of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s rationale behind the publication. “In the first place, it hopes to make the resources of Canada, economic as well as aesthetic, better known both at home and abroad. That will always remain its primary object, but by no means it sole object.”

Indeed, myself and the editorial team here go to great lengths to ensure we adhere to that mandate, which stands as true and important now as it did 85 years ago. We also believe it plays a large part in the size of the audience our content attracts.

The Foreword from that first issue ended with another key point worth noting: “Every Member of the Society should feel it a duty to help the Editors not only by pointing out defects but by suggesting ways and means of bring the Journal closer to its ideal.” Like the principle goal of the magazine, this is as true today as it was then. Canadian Geographic is your magazine, and readers should feel responsible for informing us of missteps and of ways to continue to adhere to our mission. We’re listening.


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