Full List 2014 Awards 2013 Awards 2012 Awards 2011 Awards 2010 Awards  

Special Invitation to Teachers, Instructors and Professors:

Our aim is simple: bring outstanding writing, photography and design to the classroom. Sure, we know we have great work in Western Canadian magazines, but how to make it more accessible?

The answer: The Magazine School

See a full list of the winners and classroom presentations here

This year, there are six PowerPoint teaching presentations available free to instructors and professors for use in the classroom.

These teaching presentations are free to you, as an instructor or professor, as part of the Western Magazine Awards Foundation Magazine School 2014. Each aims to tell the story behind the story, or visual award winner.

The PowerPoint presentation aims to allow students to meet the creators, and understand their challenges. They provide a starting point for your class, and highlight key aspects of the category winner. We hope you will find our award-winning material engaging for your students to read and view.

The 2014 Magazine School

The publications represented in The Magazine School 2014 are: Westworld Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan), Canada’s History Magazine (Manitoba), Eighteen Bridges (Alberta/NWT), PRISM International (BC/Yukon), Western Living (Art Direction), Vancouver Magazine (Photography).

Gold Award, Best Article - Saskatchewan

Darrell Noakes

Bunking with History

Westworld Saskatchewan

Background: Regina-based writer Darryl Noakes received a call from Westworld Saskatchewan about profiling an historic bed and breakfast near Maple Creek, Sask. By chance, he’d been looking into the place with an intent to go there himself. Noakes arrived on site and took extensive notes and photos. He wanted to bring to life the main character and owner Greg Hisey and pay homage to the history of the wagon-covered rooms and historic cabins. Noakes honed his descriptive eye by riding on a bike with a blind friend and describing the surroundings.

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “Bunking with History”.

2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.

3. Discuss which parts of the story are strongest. Which descriptions are most powerful and why?

4. The author said he tries to remove adjectives in his description. Did you notice this in the story?

5. How does this story fit into the genre of travel writing?


Gold Award, Best Article – Manitoba

Matthew Kirby

Going, Going, Gone

Canada’s History Magazine

Background: Author Matthew Kirby’s wife’s family grew up on a family farm in Saskatchewan between Saskatoon and North Battleford, near Maymont. It was called Emerald Farm after the family’s Irish heritage. But now his in-laws were in their late eighties and none of the children wanted to work the farm. Kirby and his wife were teachers who worked internationally but they were very attached to returning to the farm. The next step was painful but clear: Emerald Farm had to be sold and an auction was held to sell everything from farm equipment to dishes. Kirby knew about Canada History magazine as his parents had a subscription. His wife suggested he write about the auction and try to publish in Canada’s History. The editors were impressed by the emotional tenor of his story query and gave him the assignment.

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “Going, Going, Gone”.

2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.

3. Discuss which parts of the story are strongest. Which descriptions are most powerful and why?

4. What objects represented history?

5. This is a story in a popular history magazine. Did it balance historical record with the social and human interest aspect the editors were seeking?


Gold Award, Best Article – B.C. & Yukon

Sarah de Leeuw

Soft Shouldered

PRISM International

Background: Writer and human geographer Sarah de Leeuw wanted to write an essay on the Highway of Tears, an 800-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert. At least 18 women have disappeared along the highway — many of them aboriginal. De Leeuw worked as a counsellor in Terrace, B.C., for a time, consoling families who had lost daughters and sisters. She herself has hitchhiked the highway as a young woman. However, she needed a strong metaphor to weave throughout the essay, and eventually found one before submitting the piece to PRISM International.

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “Soft Shouldered”.

2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.

3. Discuss which parts of the essay are strongest. Which descriptions are most powerful and why?

4. Discuss the contrast between Shoulder Dystocia and women who are born to go missing.

5. The author said she didn’t want to alienate readers by being abrasive. Did she succeed?


Gold Award, Best Article – Alberta & N.W.T.

Curtis Gillespie

In the Chair

Eighteen Bridges

Background: Edmonton writer Curtis Gillespie first conceived of this essay in the mid-90s. He was traveling a lot at the time, on assignment for various magazines, and in each city he would seek out a haircut from the locals. He began reflecting on how, as a kid, his father would give Curtis and his siblings terrible haircuts as a way of saving money. He wrote a draft of the essay and submitted it to Granta magazine — but it didn’t go deep enough, and was rejected. He added a key metaphor and published the essay in Eighteen Bridges, where it won multiple awards.

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “In the Chair”.

2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.

3. Discuss which parts of the essay are strongest.

4. Discuss the balance between avoiding sentimentality while giving a piece of writing some heart.


2014 Best Art Direction - Cover

Paul Roelofs

Designers of the Year September 2013

Western Living Magazine

Background: Each year, the design team must come up with a cover for the annual Designers of the Year issue. For this cover, Western Living art director Paul Roelofs was inspired by a British designer who uses bright pantone colours. He enlisted 3D artist Mike McCormack to work on the illustration and design for the cover.

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students view the winning cover.

2. Discuss their impressions. What did they like or not like?

3. Show the PowerPoint presentation.

4. Did the designers achieve the goal for this cover?

5. What do you think of the intense process that was used to produce the cover? Was it worth it?


Best Photograph – People & Portraiture

Carlo Ricci

Arrested Developments: Steve Fonyo

Vancouver Magazine

Background: Vancouver Magazine called Carlo Ricci with an exciting assignment: they wanted him to photograph Steve Fonyo, who lost his leg to cancer as a child and ran a cross-country marathon in the 1980s for cancer research. Since then, Fonyo has led a rougher life, with a number of criminal convictions. Jenny Reed, Vancouver Magazine’s assistant art director, wanted to capture Fonyo’s gritty character. However, Ricci was new to Canada and didn’t know a thing about Fonyo. This being so, researching and reading about Fonyo beforehand was key to the shoot.

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “Arrested Developments” with a focus on the photographs.

2. Show the PowerPoint presentation, which includes photos from the shoot (some that were unpublished).

3. What photographs work best? Why?

4. Why do you think the art director ultimately chose the photos she did?

>>See all the winners from past years here<<