Magazines, Travel and Middlebrow Culture in Canada 1925-1960

Magazine name: La Revue Populaire
Years: 1907-1963
City: Montreal
Publisher: Poirier, Bessette, & Cie., Ltée.
Language: French

Downloadable files:
Table of contents, July, 1929. Link to PDF (~1mb)
Table of contents, August, 1929. Link to PDF (~1mb)
Table of contents, January, 1931. Link to PDF (~1mb)
Table of contents, January, 1932. Link to PDF (~1mb)
LRP staff listing by year. Link to PDF (80kb)
Full issue, August, 1932. Link to PDF (18.5mb)Note: As the pdf contains internal links, it is best viewed in Adobe Reader (Win/Mac) or Preview (Mac). Right-click on the PDF to download it and view it this way.

La Revue Populaire (1907-1963) was launched by Poirier, Bessette, publishers of the successful illustrated weekly Le Samedi, and marketed as a magazine for the whole family. The magazine was owned by the same company during the whole of its run, but its appearance and mix of content both changed considerably over time. During the 1920s, La Revue Populaire was essentially a pulp magazine, with a large proportion of its pages devoted to fiction – either a complete novel or a long portion of a serial appeared in each issue. At this period, coverlines described the magazine as a 'Magazine Littéraire Mensuel Illustré'. In September 1930, the magazine changed to a larger 8.5 x 10.5 size; it was the only magazine among those discussed on this site to use this size, which is similar to that of most twenty-first century magazines. During this period, the cover proclaimed La Revue Populaire to be 'La plus grande revue canadienne', and listed 'arts, lettres, sciences, histoire' as the topics covered. The magazine maintained its traditionalist outlook, but there was increasing coverage of Canadian topics during this period, as opposed to the stories of adventure and exotic 'fait divers' which had been staples of the magazine in its earliest years. New features, such as a children's page, horoscopes, and columns on cinema, cookery, and Canadian art, were gradually introduced.

The magazine was never shaped by the individual vision of an editor-in-chief, to the extent that other Canadian periodicals were at certain periods, but there was one particularly influential editorial director, Jean Chauvin, who held the position from 1929 until 1956. Another key member of staff was Thérèse Surveyer, widow of the celebrated journalist Jules Fournier, who signed herself 'Francine'. From the 1920s until the 1940s, she oversaw the 'Chronique féminine', an important and enduring feature which started as a women's column and gradually expanded into a whole section. In the more competitive, and more fragmented, periodical marketplace of the later 1940s and 1950s, La Revue Populaire, attempted to convert itself into a women's magazine, with greatly increased coverage of fashion and the domestic realm. But of course, La Revue Moderne was already occupying that segment of the magazine marketplace in Québec. La Revue Populaire, though it abandoned its conservative ideology and embraced more modern concerns, nevertheless found it difficult to survive in the cultural climate of the Quiet Revolution (Beaulieu et Hamelin IV: 269), and folded in 1963.

Circulation for La Revue Populaire stood at below 5,000 in 1910, but had increased fivefold by the mid-1920s. It had reached 40,532 by 1941, and this figure doubled over the next fifteen years. In 1963, the circulation was 127,363 (Beaulieu et Hamelin IV: 266). The annual subscription price of $1.50 was maintained across the magazine's run; this was possible because – in common with other mass-market magazines – La Revue Populaire was increasingly financed by advertising. Roughly thirty per cent of the magazine's contents consisted of adverts in the 1930s. This percentage increases steadily over the decades, with commercial material comprising 37 per cent of the contents of a typical issue in the 1940s, and climbing to 43 per cent by the mid-1950s. Magazines such as La Revue Populaire in effect moved away from selling themselves, as attractive printed products, to their readers, and towards selling their readerships, as a market, to advertisers.

For full references, see our Bibliography page

Please see our timeline to learn more about La Revue Populaire's editors and owners

Accessing the magazine

Among the Canadian libraries which hold hard copy are Library and Archives Canada (a relatively complete and well preserved run held in Special Collections) and the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (a very incomplete run, mostly covering the earlier years, but with good clear information on the catalogue as to which issues are held). Full runs on microform are held by both these libraries, amongst others.

  • La Revue Populaire cover, February 1925
    February 1925
  • La Revue Populaire cover, March 1930
    March 1930
  • La Revue Populaire cover, June 1930
    June 1930
  • La Revue Populaire cover, January 1931
    January 1931
  • La Revue Populaire cover, March 1932
    March 1932
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