Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maclean-Hunter Ltd. (RIP)

These aren't from a newspaper office, but from the building that used to be the head office of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. on University Avenue here in Toronto. It was built in 1961 for MH which published Maclean’s and Chatelaine magazines as well as a large stable of trade publications.

Maclean-Hunter had been on this site long before that — the company, including its printing plant, had been on the corner of University and Dundas since 1911. The printing plant moved — when? — to Yonge Street and Highway 401, and later to Aurora, Ont.; Maclean-Hunter moved to College Park (the former Eaton's College Street store) in 1983, and ceased to exist when it was bought by Rogers Communications Inc. in 1995. Rogers now publishes Maclean's, Chatelaine and a much smaller (and shrinking) stable of trade and professional publications (including the Medical Post, where I do my Day Job).

So this building was never actually a newspaper office, but it was the hub of a considerable proportion of Canadian periodical publishing. As I describe in Faces on Places, it features an incised naked woman floating in front of a long ribbon on one side of a building, and a naked man floating and holding a ribbon on the other.

When she won the commission for “exterior decorations” on the new MH building, Elizabeth Wyn Wood apparently thought the company had something more sculptural in mind.

“Symptomatic of the diminishing role and significance of sculptural decoration in modern Canadian architecture, Maclean officials agreed to only two simplified entrance panels on ‘Communications,’” said Victoria Baker in her examination of Wood’s life and work.

“Wood interpreted this theme in the form of female and male nude figures symbolizing ‘Sending’ [above] and ‘Receiving,’ [below] respectively.”

1 comment:

  1. I've never noticed those before. I'll have to keep an eye out next time I'm in that area.