Harrowsmith Country Life shuts down, laying off six
After 35 years in business, one of Canada’s few remaining independently owned magazines, Harrowsmith Country Life, has shut down. All of the magazine’s six staffers, including editor-in-chief Tom Cruickshank and two sales representatives, received termination notices on July 25.
“It’s a Canadian institution,” says national accounts manager Madeleine Hague, who, along with Cruickshank and sales and marketing director Yolanda Thornton, joined Harrowsmith in 1997. “If you live in the country, this is your bible.”
Hague blames the magazine’s demise on financial “mismanagement at the top” and says the writing was on the wall after several issues were delayed beginning last summer. “The Christmas  issue was the clincher,” Hague says. “It came out in January.”
Harrowsmith’s publisher, Michel Paradis, could not be reached for comment Monday.
In addition to releasing six issues per year, Harrowsmith also published an annual, 300-page Canadian almanac, edited by Bridget Weyland, which Hague says was extremely popular with readers. According to Hague, Harrowsmith’s owner, Montreal-based Malcolm Publishing, has committed to putting out five more issues to fulfill existing subscriber contracts, but the latest edition of the almanac will likely be scuttled.
In the 1980s, Toronto’s Firefly Books purchased Harrowsmith’s publishing arm, Camden House Books. A three-volume Harrowsmith cookbook published by Firefly is now out of print, but the company released a condensed version of the series, Country Cooking, in 2009.
Firefly president Lionel Koffler says Firefly no longer has any ties to Harrowsmith and that the magazine’s closure will have no impact on future Camden House titles.
Harrowsmith was founded in 1976 by James M. Lawrence from his home in rural Camden East, Ontario. In 1988, the company was purchased by the defunct Telemedia, which later sold the title to Malcolm Publishing.