Canada's History

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Canada's History
The Beaver 2010.jpg
Editor Mark Reid
Categories History
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Total circulation
(December 2011)
First issue October 1920 (as The Beaver)
April 2010[2] (as Canada's History)
Company Canada's National History Society
Country Canada
Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Language English

Canada's History is the official magazine of Canada's National History Society. It is published six times a year and aims to promote interest in and knowledge of Canadian history. Founded in 1920 as The Beaver by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the magazine was acquired by the Society in 1994. Subject matter includes all aspects of Canadian history.


The founding of The Beaver was one of the many activities in celebration of HBC's 250th anniversary. It was seen as a staff publication "devoted to The Interests of Those Who Serve the Hudson's Bay Company."

The first issue appeared in October 1920, under the banner, The Beaver, A Journal of Progress — the "successful name" in a staff competition. Five thousand copies were printed and distributed at a total cost of $570.

According to Charles Sale, who became the 29th Governor of HBC, there was a "purely personal and domestic character" to the initial magazine. Sale felt this approach was too narrow. He envisioned The Beaver as "... one of exceeding use to ...Staff; but also a publication that could distributed to customers to their benefit and is, at the same time a practical reminder (through advertising) of the Company's existence and of the goods which it offers."

Beginning with the December 1923 issue, the company began offering the magazine to non-Hudson's Bay employees at a rate of one dollar a year – a rate still in effect well into the '30s. The following year, the magazine ceased being a monthly publication and became a quarterly.

Significant changes took place in 1933 with the September issue. The original digest format was replaced by a standard magazine design. The magazine also refocussed its content, transitioning from "A Journal of Progress" to "A Magazine of the North."

From digest to magazine[edit]

The content of the new Beaver was broadened to "... include the whole field of travel, exploration and the trade in the Canadian North as well as the current activities and historical background of the Hudson's Bay Company and all its departments throughout Canada." Staff news was de-emphasized and would be handled by other company publications. Over the next fifty years, the magazine came into its stride. The Beaver came to offer a wealth of information on Canada's social, cultural, economic and commercial past. Some of Canada's leading historians have written for the magazine including:

The Beaver was one of the first magazines to publish the works of wildlife artist Clarence Tillenius and Arctic photographer Richard Harrington.

In 1986, The Beaver became a bimonthly magazine. The publisher also decided to break with tradition and expand the focus of the magazine to include all Canadian history. — introducing Atlantic and Central Canadian stories for the first time. This was reflected by the creation of a new masthead: "Exploring Canada's History."

Acquisition by Canada's National History Society[edit]

Canada's History in its former title

In 1994, Canada's National History Society acquired The Beaver from the Hudson's Bay Company. (The History Society was also founded in 1994.)

While still named The Beaver, the masthead carried a new slogan: "Canada's History Magazine," and continued to publish a bimonthly mix of features, columns, reviews, notes and commentary. Under the leadership of the History Society the magazine modernized its production and promotion programs.

In 2004, the Society launched its "baby" Beaver, Kayak: Canada's History Magazine for Kids, with a French version available quarterly as an insert in Les Debrouillards. The magazine aims to show Canadian history in a way that children find engaging, relevant and fun.

Access to the full Beaver archive was achieved through the creation of an online index. With close to 15,000 records entered, visitors can conduct searches free-of-charge and read over five decades of articles. The creation of the index made it possible to participate in the Canadian Content Online Program and use The Beaver archive to highlight Canada's fur trade history with the digital project Fur Trade Stories.

2010 title change[edit]

Since the April–May 2010 issue, the magazine has been renamed Canada's History. The stated reasons are that the name has become so associated with the sexual euphemism that online material by the magazine using its name in the header is being blocked by spam filters. The fact that there has been some confusion by people believing that the publication is a nature magazine was also cited.[2]

Parody reaction[edit]

After hearing of the name change, fictional American news pundit Stephen Colbert ridiculed the decision. Colbert began a campaign to sabotage the magazine's name change by encouraging his viewers to use Wikipedia-style website Urban Dictionary to redefine "Canada's History" in "the most jaw-dropping ways imaginable."[3] Colbert stated that "Most Canadians don’t know that here in America, the term “Canada’s History” is a euphemism for a sex act so depraved one can’t describe it on TV", and then added that it was "a depraved American sexual act involving moose antlers, maple syrup, and the Stanley Cup".[4] In less than 36 hours, there were over 500 definitions for "Canada's History" listed on Urban Dictionary.[3]


  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "The Beaver gets a new name". CBC News. January 12, 2010. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Stephen Colbert crudely redefines national history". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Canada’s History – The Colbert Nation Insta-meme". Nerd Acumen. February 4, 2010. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 

External links[edit]