“That Was Then, This Is Now” explores the beginnings of some of Canada’s favourite writers and journalists

John Macfarlane, seasoned journalist and editor, did not have any experience in news reporting or journalism until his first year of political science at the University of Alberta (now the University of Calgary). Macfarlane got involved with student reporting and started writing for The Gauntlet , the university’s student paper. By the second year of his program, Macfarlane was editor of the paper.


During his third year, Macfarlane ran for Canadian University Press (CUP) president and won the election. At the time, Dic Doyle, then editor of The Globe and Mail, was CUP’s honorary president.

Doyle and Macfarlane kept in touch, and the term Macfarlane should have graduated Doyle offered him a summer position at the Globe. (Macfarlane never actually received his degree because “at the time you needed zoology, and I didn’t pass, so I didn’t graduate,” he says. Macfarlane grabbed the opportunity Doyle offered him, launching his career.
Macfarlane then spent a year in Ottawa acting as CUP president before returning to a full-time position at the Globe.
Macfarlane has held number of prominent positions over the years. His resume includes being publisher of Saturday Night magazine, editor of Weekend andToronto Life (twice), and executive editor of Maclean’s. He is now the editor and co-publisher of The Walrus magazine.
Lead image via the National Magazine Awards.


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About the author

Matha Beach was the Head of Research of the Summer 2012 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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