Edna Staebler, literary journalist

I’m pleased to share some research I’ve been working on for the past couple of years about Edna Staebler’s legacy as a pioneering female literary journalist in Canada.

Most Canadians who know of Staebler probably think of her as a cookbook writer or philanthropist–and rightly so. That’s how I used to think of her, too. But before that, she was a magazine writer.

That was a part of her career I didn’t know about until I started judging the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction at Wilfrid Laurier University. At the award ceremony each fall, someone reads out Staebler’s biography, which mentions the writing she did for Maclean’s and Chatelaine before becoming a celebrated cookbook writer. After hearing about this for a couple of years, I finally thought I should see if I could find this work, given that I teach magazine writing.

Although her work isn’t readily available electronically (her magazine work was published between the late 1940s and early 1960s), hard copies are available in Staebler’s archives at the University of Guelph Library. And what a treasure they are: they are beautifully written, richly detailed stories about ordinary Canadians across the country that stand up as well today as they did when she first wrote them.

If you’re interested in learning more about this part of Staebler’s career, you can read all about it in my article “The Works of Edna Staebler: Using Literary Journalism to Celebrate the Lives of Ordinary Canadians” in the new issue of Literary Journalism Studies.

Here’s the abstract:

Edna Staebler’s legacy as one of Canada’s early, mainstream literary journalists has been overshadowed by her later success as a cookbook writer and philanthropist. But her magazine profiles from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s deserve more recognition for their richly detailed narrative style and focus on ordinary Canadian families that lived in isolated communities or were members of marginalized cultural, ethic, and/or religious groups.

You can read the article here.