pink timberland boots Canadian rural living icon revived

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It always surprises me how many Canadians feel an attraction for rural life, even if they live in the city or suburbs. This national tendency isn’t universal, of course, but it is noticeably different than what I find in places like Europe, for instance.

Maybe our attraction to gardening, preserving food, fixing up cottages or summer homes and connecting with the land comes from the fact that many of us Canadians are closer to our pioneer roots than other nations. Some of us only need to go back to our grandparents or great grandparents to find ancestors who made a life for themselves directly with a wild, natural landscape. A national heritage like this has an effect on a country in many ways, including what we like to read.

I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, but a mysterious attraction to rural life as a teenager led to something of a disconnect for me. Perhaps you know how I felt. How can you satisfy your yearning to learn about country life without living it? And perhaps more importantly, how can you get some kind of rural recharge when your usual life unfolds around highways and malls and long, stressful commutes to work? Tapping into this national hunger for rural life and skills is what fuelled one man’s dream that eventually became a Canadian publishing icon.

Harrowsmith magazine was the vision of James Lawrence. Working on his kitchen table in a little town called Camden East, Ont., in 1976, Lawrence put together the first issue of what would become one of the most beloved Canadian magazines in history. It’s success even went beyond our national borders, becoming the most widely read Canadian magazine in the US.

I can’t remember how I discovered Harrowsmith back when it first came out, but it quickly became my favourite magazine. As issue after issue piled up under my bed as a boy, I slowly gained a body of knowledge that helped me make the transition from a childhood spent in the city to adult life deep in the Canadian countryside. My wife and I have been living at the end of a quiet rural road, raising five kids for about half our lives now, and the hands on information and inspiration I got from Harrowsmith was part of making this happen.

The thing about loving something is that you worry about how it might change. I remember thinking how I hoped Harrowsmith would never change even before I saw that first shocking advertisement for a lawn herbicide in the magazine in 1989. This wasn’t good news for a publication that prided itself on the message of natural, simple, sustainable living. I didn’t know much about the publishing business back then, but it was obvious that something drastic had happened in the background with Mr. Lawrence’s vision. Fast forward to 2011 and I remember shaking my head as Harrowsmith magazine ceased publication, another great Canadian institution gone.

And while the vision of one man was enough to get Harrowsmith going in the first place, the vision of another Canadian has brought the magazine back again, along with the old values. A woman named Yolanda Thornton still believes in what Harrowsmith was all about in the good old days, and that’s why she’s made it live again. I think the new Harrowsmith is going to succeed, too. I only found out about the resurrection of the good old magazine late last year, but I’ve volunteered articles of my own to help them out.

Canada is a big country with many beautiful rural places waiting for people to make their living there. Now that we’ve got our own home grown source of vision, inspiration and information back again, it’s a little easier to dream the country dream.
pink timberland boots Canadian rural living icon revived