The Puritan began in 2007 as an independently funded print journal dedicated to publishing fiction, essays, and interviews in Ottawa, Ontario, and was sold in bookstores across the city. In its early years, The Puritan was Ottawa’s only quarterly prose journal. After a brief hiatus, the magazine returned to publishing, now in the form of an online magazine run from Toronto. Since expanding its mandate to include poetry and reviews, The Puritan now seeks to publish the best in all forms of writing.
If you’re interested in supporting the magazine, check out our Patreon and learn about the perks you can get as a supporter, including feedback on your work and free entry to our writing contest.
From its inception, The Puritan has published or interviewed some of Canada’s most exciting authors. We pride ourselves on our interviews and reviews: in-depth, expansive, and engaging discussions of Canadian and global literature (recent reviews have analyzed books by Sandy Pool, Miriam Toews, M. Travis Lane, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Robert McGill, Craig Davidson, Michael Winter, Anne Carson, Matthew Tierney, Margaret Christakos, Ken Babstock, Phil Hall, and Dionne Brand).
The poetry and fiction we publish is representative of the best in contemporary writing. Issues include writing and commentary by celebrated authors who need no introduction, such as George Bowering, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Dionne Brand, Ken Babstock, Jan Zwicky, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Joan Thomas, Pasha Malla, and the late John Lavery, Elise Partridge, and Robert Kroetsch. The Puritan has also featured mid-career writers such as John Barton, Shawn Micallef, Maggie Helwig, Catherine Graham, Jonathan Bennett, Emily Schultz, Tony Burgess, Trevor Cole, and Sheila Heti. Recent issues have featured newer writers such as Jowita Bydlowska, Kelli Deeth, Sachiko Murakami, Michael Lista, Donato Mancini, Amanda Leduc, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Jessica Westhead, Rebecca Rosenblum, Helen Guri, Stevie Howell, Peter Norman, and Jenny Sampirisi.
In its first year of publication, the founding editors were invited as guests to attend and/or speak at various events, such as the Governor General’s Literary Awards, The Canada Council for the Arts 150th Anniversary Luncheon, The Spring Ottawa Writers Festival, the Ottawa Arts Bazaar, The Fall Ottawa Writers Festival, and the Toronto Meet the Presses Literary Fair. The editors have since been interviewed by or featured in numerous national and provincial publications and broadcasts, including the Toronto Star, Carve Magazine, She Does the City, Broken Pencil Magazine, The Ottawa Citizen, The Fulcrum, TheOttawa XPress, CBC Radio One’s “All in a Day,” CHUO Radio, Open Book Toronto, Sensitive Skin Magazine, The New Quarterly’s blog, and CKCU Radio.
2012 marked the inauguration of The Puritan’s first contest, The Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence. The winners of the inaugural prize were featured in The Puritan Compendium I. Drawn from the pages of 18 issues published over the span of five years, the Compendium is an embodiment of the sense and substance, within smaller compass, of the journal as a whole. This was the magazine’s first hand-made, perfect-bound print anthology. Each individually numbered copy, from an edition of 100, was personally typeset and bound at Ferno House, a Toronto-based micro-press.
This period of The Puritan’s development ushered in the now annual “Black Friday” year-in-review event, celebrating the winners of The Thomas Morton Memorial Prize, the launch of the magazine’s fall issue, as well as numerous works featured throughout that year. Each Black Friday event is hosted by the editors and staff and is headlined by a number of authors published in the previous four issues.
In 2013, The Puritan launched its new sister site (and bloggy, arm’s-length appendage), The Town Crier. The blog has served as a hub of criticism and commentary, connecting a community of writers, readers, and commentators through social media, and focusing on the interplay of literary opinion in and around the city of Toronto. The Town Crier produces a number of original articles each week, offering an immediate and contemporary contrast to the magazine’s quarterly output. It is staffed by a number of regular columnists and has also featured dozens of short essays by and interviews with literary talents, including Robert McGill, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Lisa Pasold, Peter Norman, Daniel Scott Tysdal, Stuart Ross, and many more.
In Winter 2014, The Puritan published its first literary supplement, entitled Bridging the Literary Border, Part I. That year would see three separate supplements and the promise of more in upcoming editions.
Finally, The Puritan has produced a variety of innovative promotions to support its reputation. For example, its editors hosted the infamous “Throwdown in O-Town” in Ottawa, Ontario in June, 2008: an ironic (and iconic) wrestling-themed fundraiser. The event attracted substantial media attention and a large crowd of worthies; a series of humorous YouTube videos document the event for posterity and continue to draw readers to the publication. Rumours continue to circulate, claiming that another Throwdown event may be looming; no other event attracts so many authors who are so eager to test their mettle and put their careers on the line.
Toronto Star: “Brave new world for Canada’s literary journals”—article by Deborah Dundas [Published: April 23, 2015]
She Does the City: “7 Awesome Local Magazines You Should Be Reading Right Now”—article by Allana Reoch [Published: August 6, 2014]
Carve Magazine: “Q&A with Spencer Gordon”—interview by Patrick Roesle [Published: June 26, 2014]
Open Book Toronto: “Magazines! An Interview with Emily Keeler, Jeremy Hanson-Finger and Tyler Willis”—interview by Andrew Faulkner [Published: June 30, 2013]
Sensitive Skin: “Online Magazines Versus Status Quo”—article by Mark McCawley [Published: December, 2011]
Open Book Toronto: “Four Online Canadian Literary Journals You Should Know About”—article by Paul Vermeersch [Published: March 7th, 2010]