Founded in 1829, Broadview is the oldest continuously published magazine in North America and the second oldest in the English-speaking world. It has won international acclaim for journalistic excellence and garnered more editorial awards than any other faith-based publication in Canada.
Broadview and Broadview.org are owned and operated by Observer Publications Inc., a non-profit corporation registered under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. While Observer Publications is affiliated with The United Church of Canada, it is an independent corporation, with its own policies, procedures and editorial programs. The publication is supported by subscriptions, newsstand sales, advertising, donations and grants.
Previously called The United Church Observer, The New Outlook and The Christian Guardian, Broadview is the fourth and current name in the publication’s history. Now celebrating 190 years, the publication remains committed to highlighting stories about spirituality, ethical living, and social justice from a progressive Christian perspective, as well as sharing news and perspectives from and about The United Church of Canada.
Editor/Publisher Jocelyn Bell says the aim is to create a magazine and digital platforms that serve a niche audience of progressive Christians, as well as those who share progressive Christianity’s core values. “We understand this means being both introspective and outward-looking,” she says. “It requires us to examine our beliefs and values, and to live and act accordingly. It calls us to engage deeply with the justice issues of our day — and to believe that hope lies in caring profoundly for one another and for our planet.”
The Backstory on Broadview
In the early 19th century, leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada wanted to reach members of the growing denomination across the country and, in 1829, started The Christian Guardian, with Egerton Ryerson as the founding editor.
Starting with meagre resources, Ryerson guided The Christian Guardian to a circulation of 3,000 by the end of its third year. The publication came to be regarded as an important voice in the life of the growing country. As today, it commented not only on matters of religion but education and political affairs. Ryerson went on to serve in government and is credited with founding the public school system in Ontario. He also helped develop the residential school system, whose disastrous outcome for Indigenous communities is well-known today.
When The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925, the Christian Guardian, along with the Presbyterian and Congregationalist publications, merged into The New Outlook. In 1939, it was renamed The United Church Observer.
Since 1939, the magazine has only had only six changes in editorial leadership: Rev. A.J. Wilson (1939-55); Rev. Al Forrest (1955-79); Hugh McCullum (1980-90); Muriel Duncan (1990-2006); David Wilson (2006-2017); and the current editor, Jocelyn Bell (2018-present).
The magazine was independently incorporated in 1986 with its affairs overseen by an independent board of directors. While it maintains an affiliation with The United Church of Canada, Broadview does not speak as the denomination’s official voice. The grant it receives from the United Church’s General Council represents less than six percent of its overall revenue. Broadview’s financial and legal independence permits the publication to comment freely on matters within and outside The United Church of Canada.
By 2017, in response to feedback from its audience and in recognition of a changing media and religious landscape, the magazine’s staff and board members realized the need for a refreshed vision for the publication. In 2019, the publication was retitled Broadview, a name that connects with contemporary audiences and echoes the open-mindedness and inclusivity that defines today’s United Church of Canada. The magazine and its digital platforms position the publication as the voice of Canadian progressive Christians and those who share our core values, now and in the future.