Chatelaine was a Canadian women’s general interest periodical founded in March 1928 by Maclean-Hunter to increase the publisher’s national presence and advertising income.1 The magazine offered a variety of content to attract a wide audience – home services articles (e.g., food, fashion, beauty, housekeeping etc.), fiction, and general articles about women in the public sphere. Postwar format changes surged readership in the context of the Cold War, reconversion, and settlement of suburbs.2 Chatelaine circulated 378,866 copies in 1950 and 745,589 in 1960 from a low of 57,000 in the first year of publication.3
Following the closure of Judith Robinson's self-published wartime journal NEWS in 1946 due to financial difficulties, Robinson wrote for numerous publications without a regular column until 1952, when she agreed to be a columnist for Chatelaine. The combination of Robinson’s status as a revered political journalist and Chatelaine’s legacy as feminist magazine resulted in lofty expectations on what narrative her archive would reveal about her tenure at Chatelaine. Specifically, an assumption that Robinson was connected to second wave feminism in Canada.
The archive material revealed that the working relationship between Chatelaine and Judith Robinson was 5 months long, from October 1952 to February 1953. She would then go on to write a daily column at The Telegram until her death in 1961. This information prompted a series of questions, including why Robinson chose to work for Chatelaine in the first place and, perhaps more intriguingly, what caused the working relationship to fall apart so quickly?
The following pages dive into Judith Robinsons’ work at Chatelaine and analyzes the history of Chatelaine, Robinson’s correspondences with the chief editor of the magazine, the contrast in her work at Chatelaine and the Telegram, and the lack of kept reader responses in an attempt to provide a plausible explanation for her short tenure.