‘The Canadian brand is back’: Tyler Brûlé’s Monocle mag touts Canada in latest issue

For any Americans considering a move to Canada after Tuesday’s election results, Tyler Brûlé is here to help: the latest issue of his Monocle magazine is all about Canada.

The timing is no accident. The upscale publication — which focuses on global affairs, business, culture and design —  typically creates a special issue examining a specific country each March. 

But Brûlé didn’t want to wait till then, preferring to get the jump on Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday (in 2017) while also providing oodles of information for nervous Americans who may be looking north pending the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election.

Monocle magazine

‘Canada calling: why it’s time to take a fresh look north,’ reads the cover of the new issue of Monocle magazine. (CBC)

“We did think about [whether to] put a special sticker on all of the copies south of the border, saying ‘Look at Canada, perhaps a nice place to move,'” Brûlé told CBC News.

Canada is “a great place to flee to,” he added.

The Winnipeg-born hipster media magnate himself fled Canada in 1989, working as a freelance journalist in London before launching the influential style and fashion magazine Wallpaper in 1996. 

Wallpaper was a huge hit and Brûlé sold it to Time Warner a year later. He left the position of editorial director in 2002, founding Monocle five years later. 

Monocle has bucked the trend of print publications folding or converting to digital-only editions. Published 10 times a year, it boasts a paid circulation of 80,000 copies per issue. Although Brûlé is a firm believer in the value of print, the magazine is in fact a lifestyle brand: the team posts exclusive content online, populates a mobile app featuring a 24-hour radio station and sells Monocle-branded books, clothes and other products at a handful of boutiques around the globe.

Monocle Toronto store

Monocle has storefronts in cities around the world, including London, Hong Kong, New York and Toronto. (CBC)

Canada ‘still something of a mystery’

In putting together the magazine’s special issue on Canada, “the education for me was how many secrets there are in this country,” Brûlé said, explaining that many Canadian companies and citizens are succeeding in different industries worldwide, but often aren’t recognized as Canadians.

“You realize Canada is still something of a mystery for a lot of people.”  

Tyler Brûlé at the DX Intersection gala at the Design Exchange

‘It’s always nice to be recognized back home,’ Winnipeg-born Brûlé said of being honoured at the DX Intersection fundraising gala in Toronto on Nov. 4. (Ryan Emberley)

Brûlé said he hopes the magazine will help to educate readers around the world about what Canada has to offer. The new issue heralds the country as “a nation that’s flexing mind and muscle, re-engaging diplomatically and spreading its wings.” 

Features in the hefty 282-page issue include a review of Canadian branding, a report on influential Canadians, an interview with Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan, an article about junior hockey and an evaluation of Canadian exports.

Furthermore, Brûlé said he’d like to see Canada’s global influence increase, suggesting that young Canadians travel and work abroad, and that we increasing our voice abroad in online, radio and television by increasing the CBC’s capacity through more government funding or a private-public hybrid.

Though the 47-year-old editor and publisher isn’t a designer, Brûlé was honoured Friday at Toronto’s Design Exchange for his work showing how design informs contemporary culture and lifestyles. 

“There’s a certain point when we decide to leave our hometown, leave the shores and go elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“But I think it’s always nice to be recognized back home, even if you’ve been absent for almost two decades.” 

And while Brûlé remains bullish on Canada — boasting that with the election of Justin Trudeau “the Canadian brand is back” — it doesn’t mean he himself will be moving home anytime soon.  

But since Monocle has a cosy storefront on Toronto’s College Street, he’s always got one foot back in his native land, he noted. 

Tyler Brûlé at Monocle's Toronto office

Brûlé, seen at Monocle’s Toronto office on College Street, said he’s delighted that ‘the Canadian brand is back.’ (CBC)

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