Toronto Life

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Toronto Life
Editor Sarah Fulford
Total circulation
(December 2011)
First issue  1966 (1966-month)
Company St. Joseph Media
Country  Canada
Based in Toronto
Language English
ISSN 0049-4194

Toronto Life is a monthly Canadian magazine about entertainment, politics and life in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Toronto Life also publishes a number of annual special interest guides about the city, including Real Estate, Stylebook, Eating & Drinking, City Home and Neighbourhoods. Established in 1966, it is now owned by St. Joseph Media. It has a circulation of 85,500, and readership of 727,000.[2] The magazine is a major winner of the Canadian National Magazine Awards, leading current publications with 97 gold awards including 3 awards for Magazine of the Year in 1985, 1989, and 2007.


Established in 1966, Toronto Life was purchased by Michael de Pencier in 1972 and held until 2002, when it was sold to St. Joseph Media.[3] The publisher also owns the tourism magazine Where Canada (published in several large cities), Fashion, Wish, Wedding Bells, and several smaller magazines. The current editor-in-chief is Sarah Fulford, who succeeded long-time editor John Macfarlane in 2008.

In March 2014, Toronto Life was required to shut down its unpaid internship programme after the Ontario Ministry of Labour declared that its longstanding practice of not paying interns was in contravention of the Employment Standards Act.[4] The magazine responded, saying "The idea that we can start paying everybody completely misunderstands the nature of the economics of the magazine industry at the moment."[5] Toronto Life's first (unpaid) intern, Derek Finkle, started with the magazine in 1993. During his internship he wrote a cover story for the magazine for free. He weighed in on the controversy saying that he backs the decision of the Ontario Ministry of Labour.[6] and digital brand expansion[edit]

Toronto Life's website was first launched in 1996 and carried the name "Toronto Life Online."[7]

It was not until 2007 that the magazine began publishing regular online-exclusive stories on the site. Their first major, heavily-marketed web initiative was a daily blog[8] covering the Conrad Black fraud trial, written primarily by Douglas Bell.[9]

In December 2007, the magazine ceased printing a longstanding series of monthly subscriber-only City Guides, and began publishing the restaurant reviews and shopping information they contained exclusively to the website, making the content free for all readers.[10] In the same release, Toronto Life also announced that they'd hired Matthew Fox away from Montreal-based Maisonneuve to be their new online editor.

The magazine expanded its online-only reach, tasking regular food writer James Chatto and wine columnist David Lawrason to contribute daily web stories over-and-above to their work in the print magazine. City politics journalist Phillip Preville similarly began writing daily commentary as "Preville on Politics". This online column was rebranded as "City State" in May 2008.[11] After the conclusion of the Conrad Black trial, Douglas Bell started a daily column about media, power and egos called "Spectator."[12]

In June 2008, in a widely-criticised move, Toronto Life shut down all of the blogs on its website.[13] The closure of the four blogs was seen as a surprising and sudden end, especially given how two of them had only recently been launched. ("Spectator" in February 2008 and "City State" in May 2008.)[14] Publisher Sharon McAuley later admitted the projects attracted a lower-than-expected audience numbers and did not achieve the advertising and editorial goals that had been set. She further asserted that the decision to stop publishing these blogs reflected a reallocation of resources, rather than an outright budget cut, and promised that new web initiatives would be forthcoming.[15] Editor Matthew Fox reinforced this message, stating that "our analysis of the reader numbers leads us to believe that there is a better approach."[16]

At the end of 2008, Toronto Life hired Gary Campbell away from Quill & Quire to develop a new online strategy for the brand.[17] Campbell, alongside Fox, associate editor Carley Fortune, and digital designer Michelle Darwin, began a multi-month process of retooling and redesigning the magazine's website. The first project developed by this team was a new food blog, "Daily Dish"(later shortened to "The Dish"), that launched in January 2009.[18] The blog was updated multiple times daily, featured multiple authors, and courted reader participation. The new approach was immediately more successful than past efforts. As stated by Fox: "Daily Dish has been up for six days and it’s already had as many hits as City State did in its entire run."[19] Three months later, in April, the same team launched a second blog called "Style" (later renamed "The Goods") that married themed daily stories with an integrated newsletter that was sent out weekly to 15,000 readers.[20]

The website's new online approach resonated well with readers and critics. In October 2009, was awarded "Best overall magazine website" at the inaugural Canadian Online Publishing Awards.[21] The same month, Toronto Life announced that less than a year after applying their new strategy, online readership had grown by 90,000 unique visitors to a monthly average of more than 300,000 readers.[22]

In March 2010, the online team redesigned the website's homepage and expanded its online editorial by adding two more daily blogs: one devoted to politics and real estate ("The Informer") and one about celebrities, TV and movies ("The Hype"). Toronto Life also announced that in six months, site traffic had further grown to 370,000 monthly unique visitors.[23] The redesign and expansion also introduced new opportunities for advertisers, including advertising between blog posts.[24] In June 2010, the site won two gold awards at the Canadian National Magazine Awards, in the first year online award categories were included in the nominations.[25]

In March 2012, Toronto Life released the Best Restaurants App, a smartphone mobile app restaurant finder for iPhone and iPad.[26]

The current executive editor and executive producer for is Andrew Wallace. He replaced Matthew Fox as editor in May 2011.[27] The website's average monthly audience is currently about 600,000 unique visitors.


  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved 2012-04-28. 
  2. ^ Kuburas, Melita (9 July 2010). "Toronto Life unveils redesign". Retrieved 2010-10-22. According to the PMB 2010 Fall Topline Report, Toronto Life has a circulation of 85,513 and readership of 727,000. 
  3. ^ "Home Depot enters shelter category". Masthead Publishing Ltd. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 2010-10-22. Michael de Pencier, remember, was the long-time proprietor of Key Media, which was sold to St. Joseph Media in February 2002 for an estimated $36 million. Titles included Toronto Life, Fashion, Where Toronto and a stake in Gardening Life. 
  4. ^ "Ontario labour ministry cracks down on unpaid internships at Toronto Life, The Walrus", The Canadian Journalism Project, March 27, 2014
  5. ^ "Unpaid Internship Crackdown At Toronto Life, The Walrus Magazines", Huffington Post Canada, March 27, 2014
  6. ^ "The Unpaid Internship Conspiracy",, March 31, 2014
  7. ^ "Wayback Machine capture of from January 1997". 
  8. ^ "Toronto Life's Conrad Black trial blog still going strong". 
  9. ^ "Black days for a city magazine". 
  10. ^ "Toronto Life moves its "little red books" online". 
  11. ^ "Taking The Piss Out". 
  12. ^ " launches blog covering media, power and egos". 
  13. ^ "Toronto Life Doesn’t Care About Blog People". 
  14. ^ "Toronto Life blogs shut down, without explanation". 
  15. ^ " reins in bloggers, reallocates spending". 
  16. ^ "Toronto Life Goes Back to the Future". 
  17. ^ "People in print: Changes at St. Joseph Media, Brunico Communications and more". 
  18. ^ "Dishing It". 
  19. ^ " launches daily foodie news blog". 
  20. ^ "Toronto Life tries weekly style newsletter on for size". 
  21. ^ "St. Joseph Media Brings Home Three Canadian Online Publishing Awards". 
  22. ^ "Toronto Life website passes 300,000 unique visitors & 2 million page views". 
  23. ^ "Toronto Life magazine starts two new blogs (including politics) & renames two others". 
  24. ^ "Toronto Life embeds ads into new blogs". 
  25. ^ "Up Here snags top prize at National Magazine Awards". 
  26. ^ "Toronto Life launches Best Restaurants app". 
  27. ^ "Toronto Life online masthead". 

External links[edit]