The Atlantic Advocate

Cover of the Atlantic Advocate
Cover of the Atlantic Advocate

The Atlantic Advocate is a magazine that was published from 1956 to 1992. This general-interest monthly periodical was published through the University Press of New Brunswick in Fredericton and affiliated with Fredericton’s newspaper, The Daily Gleaner. The magazine’s inaugural issue, however, was actually the 560th issue of the enterprise. From 1916 to 1933, The Busy East of Canada was a magazine printed in Sackville, New Brunswick by the Busy East Press. It expanded in 1933 and was renamed the Maritime Advocate and Busy East, circulating until 1956. At that point, the publishing rights were purchased from the estate of the late Dr. C.C. Avard, and the magazine became the Atlantic Advocate. During the years of publication, the Atlantic Advocate also absorbed another magazine: the Atlantic Guardian. The Atlantic Advocate continued the numbering of volumes from the magazines that preceded it, running for thirty-six volumes —starting with volume 47, number 1 in September 1956, and ending with volume 82, number 5, in 1992.

The original subtitle to the magazine, “The Voice of the Atlantic Provinces,” heralded the intention of the publication. In the introductory issue, the Editor’s Note declares that “The Atlantic Advocate is launched to fight the battles of the Atlantic provinces which will win for them a fair place in the life of Canada.” The magazine lived up to this ideal by becoming a critical voice for the history, geography, travel, trade, and literature of the region. The magazine was comprised mostly of opinion pieces, articles of local interest, and news. It also dealt with political issues, as well as observations of life in the Atlantic provinces. Although the articles were never more than a few pages, they penetrated deeper into the particularities of the Atlantic lifestyle than newspapers. Cartoons and photographs by Atlantic artists were showcased and accompanied most articles, giving the magazine a more journalistic than academic tone. The glossy-page printing and vibrant colours injected life into the magazine and helped to engage a wider public. Also, the authorship was of a critical and investigative nature but was not limited to known columnists. Politicians, journalists, historians, financial advisors, and critical responses from citizens were included in many issues. Letters to the Editor was a regular feature, dealing with commentaries on previously published articles as well as points of interest from around the region.

The magazine acted as a springboard for a number of local writers of the time. D.K. Parr, Charles Bruce, Desmond Pacey, John Braddock, Marguerite McNair, and Fred Phillips were just some of the writers who published poetry or short stories in the Advocate. Lord Beaverbrook, who was one of the main financial contributors to the University Press, had a featured piece chronicling his upbringing in New Brunswick that spanned the first seven issues of the magazine. Alden Nowlan, the well-known poet and author from Hartland, was featured in the magazine from the beginning of his career. He provided a series of fictional works on Mi’kmaq legends and also had a column in the magazine, “Alden Nowlan’s Notebook,” which covered various issues ranging from political to cultural observations. His commentary extended over a broad range of topics: from the Watergate scandals of the 1970s to the struggles of life in rural towns to the unique lifestyle of the Atlantic provinces. Michael O. Nowlan, a New Brunswick writer, also had a regular column, “Atlantic Bookcase,” reviewing and recommending books and poetry collections of Atlantic authors. His commentary helped to promote the works and increase readership beyond the limits of the region.

The Atlantic Advocate was first published and edited by Michael Wardell, a British ex-serviceman known for his eccentric nature and close relationship with Lord Beaverbrook. Wardell was based in Fredericton and, with patronage from Beaverbrook, formed the University Press where the magazine was published. The University Press was created from a buy-out of three enterprises: The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton-based newspaper), Wilson’s Printing, and McMurray’s (a store that sold books, stationery, and printing services). With the purchase of these enterprises and the creation of the press, Wardell and Lord Beaverbrook took control of publishing in New Brunswick. Their aim, supported by R.A. Tweedie, another Fredericton-based employee of Lord Beaverbrook, was to reshape Fredericton into a new cultural center of Canada. Due to his sometimes abrasive nature and loyal devotion to Beaverbrook, Wardell encountered some resistance from people associated with The Daily Gleaner during the initial takeover. Based on a tip from associate R.A. Tweedie, Wardell purchased publishing rights for The Maritime Advocate and Busy East, the predecessor to the Atlantic Advocate. Running both the Gleaner and the Advocate, Wardell was able to promote Lord Beaverbrook’s interests, using both publications to discuss Beaverbrook’s exploits, to present a positive public image of him, and to promote his endeavours. Over time, the University Press became too much for Wardell to handle on his own and it was bought by K.C. Irving. By the time printing of the Advocate ceased in 1992, editorship had changed hands multiple times and was under the control of Marilee Little, with publishing under the purview of Tom Crowther.

Meghan Jagoe, Winter 2009
St. Thomas University

Bibliography of Primary Sources

Atlantic Advocate. Fredericton, NB: U of New Brunswick P, 1956-1992.

Bibliography of Secondary Sources

Boone, Laurel. “Writing in the Maritimes 5.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Ed. Eugene Benson and William Toye. 2nd ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 1997. 738-41.

Campbell, Gail G. “Fredericton.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian History. Ed. Gerald Hallowell. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 2004.

Conrad, Margaret R., and James K. Hiller. Atlantic Canada: A Concise History. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 2006.

Davey, Frank. “Nowlan, Alden.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Ed. Eugene Benson and William Toye. 2nd ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 1997. 616.

Marchildan, Gregory P. “Aitken, William Maxwell.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian History. Ed. Gerald Hallowell. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 2004.

Moore, Jean M. “The Alden Nowlan Papers: An Inventory of the Archive at the University of Calgary Libraries.” American Review of Canadian Studies 29.4 (1993): 645.

Poitras, Jacques. Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2007.

Toner, Patrick. If I Could Turn and Meet Myself: The Life of Alden Nowlan. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2000.

Tweedie, R.A., F. Cogswell, and W.S. MacNutt, eds. Arts in New Brunswick. Fredericton, NB: Brunswick P, 1967.