In 1899 the Stovel Print Company started producing a household magazine. The publication was modest–less than 20 pages, no covers or photographs, no colour–but striking, and it did what its creators hoped it would do. It served as an extended advertisement for the services of their decade-old Winnipeg-based company.

The Stovel Print Company had started in 1889, “with a few fonts of type and a small hand press” (Historical Outline of the House of Stovel). By 1899 they had expanded to a new building at the corner of McDermot Ave. and Arthur St., and had purchased the first job linotype in Western Canada. They had also merged with a lithography and engraving firm, allowing their services to expand until they could boast separate departments for photo-engraving, stereotyping and electrotyping, and more.

The Western Home Monthly, as they called their magazine, became a catalogue of what the Stovel Company could do, growing more sophisticated over the years as technology improved. Over time they added photographs, illustrated covers, and glossy full-colour inserts. They also serialized novels by now-canonical authors like Martha Ostenso and Laura Goodman Salverson. But throughout the magazine’s 32-year run,* advertising always drove their progress: advertising for what they could do, and advertising for household and personal products.

This almost-full-page ad from the May 1901 issue is a good example. In the 14-page issue, it is the largest illustration and the most detailed. It advertises Dr. McLaughlin’s Electric Belt and The Western Home Monthly at the same time. 

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{Image courtesy of Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries}

On the pages of The Western Home Monthly we can watch print technology and advertising culture mature hand in hand. And pretty soon, courtesy of Peel’s Prairie Provinces, everyone will be able to explore its pages.

*In 1932 The Western Home Monthly became The National Home Monthly.

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