A History of Queen's Quarterly


"There has always been a willingness on the part of the Queen's Quarterly to experiment in a literary sense."
~George Woodcock, Canadian author and longtime Quarterly contributor.

In 1893, the Queen's Quarterly first appeared, having been founded by George Monro Grant, Sir Sandford Fleming, and John Watson, among others. Over the past century, the Quarterly has survived many a difficult time, manifesting what one of its former editors described as "the stubbornness of living things." The journal's commitment has always been to offer both the academic and the general reader a lively collection of analysis and reflection, in fields as diverse as international relations, science policy, literary criticism, travel writing, economics, religion, short fiction, and poetry.

Over the years, the list of those who have contributed to the Quarterly is impressive. Sinclair Ross, Margaret Laurence, W.O. Mitchell, Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant,Joyce Carol Oates, Al Purdy, Carol Shields, and more recently Emma Donoghue and Helen Humphreys are among the many who found a home in the Quarterly before eventually being recognized as major Canadian writers.

Early in his term, the Quarterly's present editor, Boris Castel, asked veteran designer Peter Dorn to update the journal's look. The result is a much more visually engaging layout, with more artwork and photography and a fresh, open appearance. The attractive new format fits well with the Quarterly's century-old commitment to creating a place for vigorous intellectual discussion outside the cloistered preserve of the specialist.

The Quarterly carries little advertising, aside from the occasional literary promotion, and so it relies on the support of the university, the Canada Council, the Canada Magazine Fund, and the Ontario Arts Council. Subscriptions have increased dramatically over the past ten years, underlining that the Queen's Quarterly's first priority must always be its readers.


As the editor recently told an interviewer, "We are always trying to satisfy the curiosity of the congenial reader, the general reader who wants to be both educated and entertained, a reader who appreciates an intellectual overview of the world. In many ways, I think what the Quarterly does is an extension of the university's mandate. It goes beyond the confines of the physical campus to take fresh, new ideas to our readers. I think there will always be a need for a reflective forum of this sort, one which gives priority to ideas."