Harrowsmith Country Life
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Cover of Harrowsmith (Spring 2017)
|Founder||James M. Lawrence|
Harrowsmith Country Life was a resourceful magazine that explored and showcased country living. Originally called Harrowsmith, the magazine was heralded as a back-to-the-land and environmental issues platform. In 1976, founder James M. Lawrence cut and paste the first issues together on a kitchen table in the tiny village of Camden East (pop. 256) in Ontario, Canada. Within two years, the magazine had over 100,000 subscribers and eventually became Canada's 8th largest magazine. It was the leading Canadian magazine read outside of Canada.
In 1988, Lawrence sold Harrowsmith to Canadian media giant, Telemedia, where it remained until 1996. Telemedia launched an American edition, and the words "Country Life" were tacked onto Harrowsmith's title. The American edition reached a paid circulation of 225,000 but folded as Telemedia began making changes to their publishing business.
Editor Tom Cruickshank came on board, taking the helm of Harrowsmith Country Life in 1996, after Telemedia sold Harrowsmith Country Life, and its sister publication Equinox, to Malcolm Publishing, a Montreal, QC company. Equinox ceased publishing in 2000 and its coveted mailing list was sold to Canadian Geographic. Harrowsmith went on to celebrate 30 years of publishing in 2006.
Harrowsmith TV exists as re-runs and Harrowsmith books can still be found. Some titles, such as the popular mainstay Harrowsmith Cookbook (three volumes) are still available through Amazon and Firefly Books. Telemedia no longer exists and many of its assets were sold to Transcontinental Media in 2000.
In 2011, Harrowsmith Country Life published a single issue in March and in August 2011 the magazine announced that it would cease publication just short of its 35th anniversary issue. It failed to notify subscribers that the magazine would suspend publishing and those subscribers who had paid for their magazines in advance did not have their money refunded.
In the fall of 2012, after obtaining the licensing rights to Harrowsmith, Yolanda Thornton, a former employee, revived Harrowsmith magazine starting with its sister publication: Harrowsmith's Truly Canadian Almanac for 2013. Moongate Inc. (Toronto, ON) which is also owned by Yolanda Thornton assumed the publishing for Harrowsmith. The 2013 edition was received positively and sold well to long-time fans with nostalgic relationships to the original magazine.
In the spring of 2013, a second issue was added to the roster: Harrowsmith's Gardening Digest. In 2015 the addition of two more titles saw the release of four issues that year: Harrowsmith's Gardening Digest, Harrowsmith's My Kind of Town, Harrowsmith's Homes and the annual 2015 Harrowsmith's Almanac. For the 2015 annual fall almanac edition (published September 2014), the title was shortened to Harrowsmith's Almanac.
In 2015 and 2016, Harrowsmith embraced the digital market and reached a wider audience with a new format. Two print issues were published (spring and fall) and two online editions (summer and winter) were included in annual subscriptions. “Country Life” was dropped from the title; addressing a broader demographic appeal to eating locally grown foods and a simpler lifestyle.
Today, with four issues a year, Harrowsmith magazine continues to be a trusted Canadian resource for living simply and sustainably. Since James Lawrence’s kitchen table ambitions in 1976 to the current publication, the content remains the same. Harrowsmith will always be about reconnecting: to food, land and community. The Fall Almanac is still hotly anticipated for its annual seed guide, astronomy and weather sections. From gardening tips to DIY projects, seasonal recipes, home and design features and travel ideas, Harrowsmith resonates with both urban and rural readers alike.