Black and white photo of a street view. There are two street cars in the middle of the image as well as buildings, people, and telephone poles along the sides of the street. In the distance is a tall building under construction.

Chatelaine Women Rights Publishing

Chatelaine Magazine

Black and white photo of a street view. There are two street cars in the middle of the image as well as buildings, people, and telephone poles along the sides of the street. In the distance is a tall building under construction.

Dundas Street from Centre Avenue to University Avenue, 1900-1930. Image: City of Toronto Archives

Black and white portrait photo of a woman in formal robes and a hat sitting in a chair. The woman has a book in her hand and is facing the camera.

Helen Gregory MacGill by Major James Skitt Matthews, 1930s. Image: City of Vancouver Archives

Image of a magazine cover with a woman on the front in 1940s clothing smiling at the camera whilst carrying books and a sweater in one arm. The woman is holding on with her other hand to a circular machine. The heading reads "Chatelaine / In this issue: / Women in War Industry / ten cents / September / 1942".

Chatelaine, “Women in War Industry”, September 1942. Courtesy of Chatelaine / St. Joseph Communications.

Black and white portrait of woman with short hair at her desk, wearing pearl earrings and a pearl necklace.

Doris Anderson, Editor of Chatelaine at her desk, 1962. Courtesy of Rogers Media, Chatelaine vol. 25 Issue 6 (June 1962): 1.

Chatelaine Magazine

The Early Years

The Maclean Publishing empire developed at this complex of buildings on the northeast corner of University and Dundas. In 1928, the company launched a women’s magazine – The Chatelaine. Initially, the magazine was politicized and featured social commentary on women’s role in society. In its first year, Helen Gregory MacGill, one of Canada’s first female judges, penned a critique on the lack of female figureheads in the workforce and argued for equal pay. The following year, Emily Murphy, who was instrumental in the success of the Persons Case, wrote about what lay ahead for women now that they were considered persons under the law. At the same time, the magazine published articles on cooking, cleaning, and child raising. In the early days of the magazine, its content reflected women’s roles in both the public and domestic spheres.

Second World War

During the Second World War, Chatelaine shifted to emphasize women’s roles in the war effort. Covers featured enlisted women and farm workers. Recipes reflected how women could do their part with wartime rationing. Readers saw how women’s contributions could make a difference. The magazine’s focus reverted to women in the domestic sphere in the baby boom period. This era emphasized a woman’s role as a homemaker.

Mid-Century

In 1957, prominent feminist Doris Anderson became editor of the magazine. During her tenure, the magazine shifted its focus and was heavily influenced by the women’s movement. While still including homemaking advice, it also featured pieces on issues related to women in the paid workforce. Articles covered equal pay, the poverty experienced by women, and more controversial topics like abortion. Articles written by and featuring professional women filled the magazine. Even the cover changed to highlight professional women. In January 1969, future Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson, then a young journalist, appeared on the cover. 

The Unpaid Workforce

While the magazine has not always focused on women in the paid workforce, the importance of the unpaid workforce – domestic work – was not ignored. Housekeeping and child-rearing articles provided advice for women working in the domestic sphere. Though unpaid, this work is a crucial part of any society and it is an issue that disproportionately affects women. Even as recently as 2015, Canadian women spent an average of 3.9 hours a day on unpaid work, compared to 2.4 hours for men. Throughout its history, Toronto-based Chatelaine has reflected women’s changing roles in Canadian society. 

*Sources:

Chatelaine,” University of Waterloo Special Collections & Archives, January 12, 2016.

Anderson, Doris,  “Chatelaine Magazine“.  In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Article published February 07, 2006; Last Edited December 04, 2013.

Katie Underwood, “#tbt: Tales from the Chatelaine archives,” Chatelaine, October 23, 2014.

Melissa Moyser and Amanda Burlock, “Time use: Total work burden, unpaid work, and leisure,” Statistics Canada, July 30, 2018.