Celebrating the 100th issue of the Canadian Alpine Journal
Editor's note: This message below from Sean Isaac, editor of the Canadian Alpine Journal, reflects upon the evolution of the CAJ as we reach our 100th issue of the publication. For you history buffs, all of the 100 back issues of the publication are available to flip through in The Alpine Club of Canada archives at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff.
Centennials are cause for celebration — a time to pause, take stock and reflect. For people, 100 years represents a very full life. Well, this year marks the one-hundredth volume of The Canadian Alpine Journal. Like a centenarian, the CAJ was conceived, born and has thrived for more than 10 decades by evolving with our changing times. I say “more than” because despite this being the hundredth volume, 106 issues have been published over the course of 110 years, thus making this a supercentenarian.
The first CAJ was published in 1907, one year after the founding of The Alpine Club of Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since that time, a handful of issues were doubled up—two years of climbing news summarized in a single volume. Zac Robinson, ACC Vice President of Mountain Culture (and a history professor at the University of Alberta), points out that anomalous issues were innovations demanded by their respective times. “Look at the years that were doubled,” he says. “With only one exception, they’re all years of economic hardship in Canada, or war. It was likely a necessary cost-saving measure when subscriptions were low. And then, along the way, there were a few other ‘special issues,’ which were never numerated, that highlighted different specific initiatives or events.”
“It’s all a sign,” Robinson continues, “of just how reflective our climbing history and achievements are embedded in the wider story of Canada and the world.”
Indeed, the CAJ charts a course much like Canada’s own, and it is a particularly splendid coincidence that as we celebrate the centennial volume, Canada celebrates its 150th birthday—its sesquicentennial.
From Arthur O. Wheeler to me and my editorial and design team, the tradition of the CAJ lives on. I am honoured and proud to play a role in helping navigate the journal’s modern trajectory. Much has changed in the publishing world since the turn of the twentieth century, and even more so since I took the reins of the CAJ in 1997. The digital era threatens to make hardcopy books obsolete, so we must continue to adapt.
Last year, we jumped in with both crampons and went for a new journal size in full colour. The result was stunning—a beautiful book printed on quality paper with vivid images that illustrate meaningful stories. This year, the ACC takes the CAJ one step further by releasing all the CAJs—up to within one year of the current issue—online as a free, searchable, open-access platform.
On another note, it is with mixed feelings that I announce Suzan Chamney’s final year as graphic designer for the CAJ. While I am happy that Suzan will embrace her hard-earned retirement, free from my pestering emails and drawn-out Skype sessions as deadlines loom, I will miss her artistic eye and meticulous attention to detail. Ten years ago, we were paired up and thrown into the deep end of CAJ publication. I owe Suzan endless gratitude for bringing pages of text and photos to life with her creative and clean layout. Suzan, thank you.
Time brings change. And there is a lot of change to be had in a hundred years. So as another era begins, please welcome Zac Bolan as the ACC’s new publications manager and my new partner in crime. Onwards and upwards!